If you haven’t heard this from other designers or experienced this for yourself, play testers like to be polite when it comes to feedback. What this means is that the feedback you get from a form or verbal questions might be different that what your testers are really thinking.
Here is a way around that problem, check out your testers body language as they are testing the game.
When we went to an UnPub mini event in November, I had some down time at my table and I watched the other designers with their games and their testers. While I did not get to watch everyone, I did notice that designers spent a lot of time looking at the game being played correctly and not watching their testers.
This makes perfect sense….right?
I get it, you want to make sure the game is being played correctly and people are moving pieces around the board and playing cards in the right order, but there is a mine rich with information sitting around the board.
The next time you are play testing, take a moment to watch people as they take their turn. Watch them as they wait for their turn and watch them as you explain certain parts of the game. How engaged are your players during different parts of the game. How do they spend their down time? How to they interact with the other players? Are they thinking about what they should be doing and can you see it on their faces?
There is a lot of information designers can get from their testers ever before they provide any verbal or written information.
And I get it, I am guilty of this myself. It is so easy to get lost in the explanation of the rules but as you gain experience with testing and the explaining of your game becomes second nature (because it will!) start to take the time to watch your testers as they play your game and take the valuable information their body language has to offer.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.