When I say people, I mean everyone: play testers, friends, family, reviewers, other designers. If you tell someone your idea, you want their feedback.
Some quick tips on collecting feedback. I could go into a lot more depth about how best to collect feedback, but here are some essentials.
•Don’t argue with playtesters.
•Don’t take feedback at face value.
•Understand why a playtester makes certain feedback.
•Record everything, positive and negative.
•Look for recurring patterns among as many testers as possible.
The value of feedback is wide ranging, both for design and for promoting a game. The value of play testing for design is fairly self explanatory, to fully realize and polish a game it needs to be viewed from a variety of different perspectives.
Feedback & Promotion
Part of the appeal of games is that they are interactive. Interactivity is at the core of engagement, and giving players a way to interact with the production / design process of the game allows the designer to extend this engagement.
When the game starts to take off (either self published or through a publisher), it is important to keep people engaged. An engaged play tester is more likely to tell their friends, and will help to form a stronger community around your game.
People love to give their opinions, and especially being solicited for them opinions. It can be a very positive experience for a person, which is part of their overall experience of the game.
Merely the act of providing feedback is usually enough, a designer doesn’t need to implement every suggestion they receive (though you’ll be surprised how many good suggestions you get), the important thing is to let play testers feel like they are a part of the process, because, quite honestly, they can be the most important part.
In addition to the improvements to the game, play testers can let you know more about how your game fits into their life and the board game community in general. Some helpful unexpected pieces of information I’ve received:
-What games your game is like.
-Other games or pop culture trends that have similar themes.
-Deeper puns and jokes that come from the theme.
There’s a lot of information you can get from play testers that you can use for promotional copy. Getting other people to explain the game to you will help point out which elements of your game are the most entertaining and easily understood. Often I find just getting people to read the rule book and provide feedback gives me tons of material to work with when I’m promoting or explaining the game. When pitching an idea or selling the game, your game needs to have a solid deliverable concept that is easy to understand. Practicing and testing all the pitch material can make or break some of those critical first steps in bringing your game to market.
So in conclusion, play test everything as often as you can, and encourage your players to give you honest feedback. This not only makes your game better, but makes your play testers feel as cool as they really are. Never underestimate the importance of play testing and play testers.