Blind playtesting – the art of social media!

Hey everyone! Welcome back. I haven’t posted in a long time, i apologize for that, i was working frantically on one of my other game to submit it to a contest. Anyway, like i had mentioned in the last post, this post will be about how to get blind playtesters for your game.

Whoa, whoa, wait… what’s blind platesting? Most of you will already know this for those who don’t, it’s the most important yet a lot of times difficult part of designing a game. You made a game, you played it yourself, it works great! You told it to your friends and family and got them to play it. You got very positive responses. That’s great! But this might not necessarily mean that your game is going be enjoyed with the same excitement when it is brought to the market. For that, you will have to give it the ultimate tests! Make complete strangers play your game without you explaining them the rules and give feedback. How is that possible? Through this awesome communication network known as the internet!

I host a youtube show called as ‘Print N Playthroughs’ which focuses on reviewing PNP games and other PNP related things. PNP(Print N Play) games are the table top games whose printable components are put into pages on a PDF(or even as separate images) and uploaded on the internet. So people anywhere around the world can download that document, print it out, cut out the components and play!

This is how a PNP page full of cards will look for Cadence:

Cadence pnp page 2

You can check out the entire PDF here – Cadence – road racing championship PnP PDF

Anyway, now that you know what it is how to do it, let’s get into answering the main concern for new designers – How do i find blind playtesters on the internet to play my game? Well, here are some of the things i have found to be extremely helpful.

  • Find your audience. Let people know that your game is freely available on the internet an that they can play it. But more so, give them reason to actually print it out. This is where social networking comes in.

Are you active on facebook? Do you have a lot of twitter followers? Awesome! But that might not help here. Talking about it on sites like those will just help your friends or acquaintances know about your PNP. That’s not really going to help for blind playtesting as they are most probably going to prefer to play the game with you with the copy you already have.

So where else? If you are a tabletop gamer or a designer, you HAVE to be on the social network of boardgaming – Boardgamegeek! Start a thread about your game, comment on others’ threads, enter you game in PNP contests there. This is one the bast platforms out there. You can also start talking about it on BGDF(Board Game Designers Forum) The Gamecrafter etc. There are a lot of board game groups on Facebook and communities on twitter. Go ahead, let us know more about you game!

(PODs like The Gamecrafter can also help you make prototypes of your game in minimum quantity.)

  • Make It Presentable. A lot of new designers do the first step, but still find it hard to get playtesters. This is not because nobody found your game interesting. It’ s probably because nobody found it worth the pretty big amount of time and effort required to print out and craft your game. Open your PDF again and have a inspect it yourself. If your cards are very drab or dull, if your board is has a lot of back or dark colors, if the text font is unclear or is very small, that’s probably why it happened.

You don’t have to be  a professional artist to make your components. Nobody will be expecting beautiful illustrations on your cards. But you can be creative, use pictures, icons and symbols from the internet to make your components look attractive. I use creative common images from Flickr Commons and icons and symbols from Gameicons.net for my PNPs. Teach yourself some basic photo editors like Paint.net and Photoshop and with a little bit of practice you can come up with the professional looking stuff.

When you do this, people looking at your game get instantly drawn in and will consider crafting it. Its human behaviour, if people are going to craft something themselves, they want it to look gorgeous.

This is some of the card art I did for my newest design. Not showing off here. 😛 Just saying, that with a little bit of ready made pictures and icons you can make awesome components!

Perilayas 1 - Location Card 3 Perilayas 1 - ceature card 1

  •  Playtest other people’s games. This is probably the most important and effective way to get playtesters for your game. Do it without the expectation of them returning the favor. If you want get from the community, you should give to the community. There’s always the saying, “Do to others, what you want them to do to you”.

Go discover some nice PNPs you’re interested in. Craft and play them and give feedback to the designers. It’s an enjoyable experience. Now, you will also know what to expect when other people give you feedback because you have been in their place. This will surely help in some way or the other. The designer whose game you have playtested might not playtest your game. But he will ask about it and make friends. He might recommend it to other interested people. Maybe not this game, but when he sees your next game that is of the particular genre that he likes, he print that out. It’s all about being a part of the community.

Whatever you do though, don’t lose hope! Be patient. It takes weeks, if not months to get blind playtesters, especially for new designers. Do not skip this step or you will never know how your game actually will be when it goes in the market.

I know this has been a little bit of longer post, so thanks a lot for reading! Here’s an interview with a popular PNP designer i recorded that might give some moe valuable insights – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP7X_pJUjao

See you next time and happy gaming!