Advice for playtesters
I do want to briefly give some advice to playtesters as well, not to make this too one-sided for the designer. If you are a playtester yourself, then do not be afraid to continually ask questions of the designers, developers and facilitators. As the old axiom goes; there are no dumb questions.
If something isn’t clear, or something is confusing, it isn’t because of you. You need to be bringing the designers attention to it, and the only way you can do this is by Asking. This helps the designer to become aware of the pain point and will help them in improving for the next run through.
So in summary, when you are playtesting, remember to always test the experience on your own first. Run it through a few times mentally and with the actual work you require a player to do. Only after you’ve done this a couple of times do you bring in people that you know, and then after that, you start testing with complete strangers.
Depending on the experience that you have developed, you can either drop your players into the deep end and hope they can swim/figure it out on their own, which gives you more material and data to observe and record. Or you can give them a short introduction to better contextualise your gamified experience.
Do encourage your players to think out loud. And by this, I don’t mean just asking you questions, but also that they discuss with each other and talk about the various aspects for what they are going through. Be mindful to keep your own mouth closed so as not to influence them unnecessarily.
And the final point: when playtesting aim to recruit your target audience as early as possible for your experience. What I mean by this is that if you made an experience designed for marketers, be sure to have these as your players, it’s no use bringing HR professional if they are not your target audience. This will likely be the ‘bring in complete strangers’ stage of your playtest, and it will give you the most valuable feedback.
For additional information, I can recommend Ann Coppens slide-pack on playtesting from Gamification Europe 2018, found in the references below.
Schell, J. (2014). The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. CRC Press.
Boller, S. (2013) Final Step in Learning Game Design: Playtest, playtest, playtest. [online] The Knowledge Guru. Available at: http://www.theknowledgeguru.com/final-step-learning-game-design-playtest-playtest-playtest/ (Accessed 10 Feb. 2020)
Coppens, A. (2018) Playtesting [online] Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/an_coppens/playtesting-presentation-for-gamification-europe-by-an-coppens (Accessed 10 Feb. 2020)