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How to Find Board Game Playtesters

Posted by Brandon Raasch on Mar 5th 2018

How to Find Board Game Playtesters

After several years of Unpubs, meetups, conventions and game design events, it is clear that having a great game idea isn't enough to get players to your table. Here are some strategies to get your prototype the most play time.

Go Where Gamers and Game Designers Are

Luckily there is a growing number ways to play testing prototype board games.

  1. Reach out to prototype groups on Meetups.com or Facebook groups like Board Game Revolution to find one in your area, or check out unpub.net or boardgamegeek.com which offer great forums dedicated to playing prototypes
  2. Check your upcoming game convention to see if they offer an “Unpub” or “Protospiel” event.
  3. Local game stores may let you show your prototype provide they have space.

Work on Your Curb Appeal

Make your prototype hard to ignore. The table is your stage, so add some color to it.

  1. Download some art for your prototype (don't sell art you don't own).
  2. Use interesting components like plastic gems or metal cubes to get players to pause. I have seen cookies used to great effect.
  3. Display a name tent describing your game. This allows a looky-loo to read about your game and you get an opportunity to invite them to play.

Go Get'em Tiger

I witness is game designers who sit at their table and wait for people to choose them. If players are like customers, you have to go get them. Take initiative!

  1. Trade play time with your neighboring tables.
  2. Post invites to play on the convention social media while you get up and ask people to try your game.
  3. Be a host by standing and greeting players. Ask their names, get them seats and finding out how much time they have. By now, your hosting skills have them greeted, seated and waiting to be taught how to play.

Start Playing...Now!

No one wants a lecture, they want to play. Practice these key messages so you can say it all in 3 minutes;

  1. Explain the target audience for your game (kids, euro gamers, etc)
  2. Explain where you are in the development process (first playtest, Beta testing your written rules, ready for publishing)
  3. Tell the players what you need from them (playing the whole game, testing a new mechanic, feedback on art, etc.)
  4. Ask if your players are willing to make changes to the rules as you go. Competitive players may find this unfun.

Avoid explaining the game if you can start playing the game. Video games are great at teaching you how to play while you play, see if you can do the same with a demo round of your game.

Practice Your Pitch to Make It Perfect

Practice using the game setup to teach game play. If you can have your players do the setup to learn, even better. Rehearse cleaning up and resetting your game after play. This will allow you to reset your game while talking to your next players, and test how easy your game is to reset.

All Feedback is Useful

Prototype play is used to learn what to keep, what to add and what to remove from your game, based on the input. Every player is different, so listen for and avoid arguing about feedback. Try changes and new rules with the next playtest. Keep it fun and, you can often get playersthem to come back and try your latest changes.

Wrap Up

Always end your playtest with a thanks and an invitation to follow your project. An email gained of Facebook follow is one more qualified customer for your game. If you have a survey for feedback, great! Always ask, “Would you play this game again?” to let you know if you're on the right track. Keep working on your game and watch for what audience matches your design. You never know when you are sitting with a publisher looking for their next big thing!

Like What You See?

Be sure to subscribe below for more updates and articles form BARD Games and to receive a free Designer Popup Tent for your next playtest. Thanks for reading. See you at the table.

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