The Importance of Playtesting

Alright, so taking a brief tangent away from specifically D&D (and tabletop RPGs in general) to slide on over to just general board games, and how to have more fun with them. I wanted to talk today about the importance of playtesting, and specifically the act of going out to play test other peoples’ games.

There was a wonderful event this past weekend called ProtoTO – a board game convention of sorts, dedicated to designers that create games and providing them the opportunity to play test their board game prototypes. While yes, there was the opportunity to play games that have already been published, the vast majority of individuals at this event were playing games that are still in inception.

But Natalie – why would I do this? The games aren’t done. That won’t be any fun! And this whole blog is about having more fun playing games. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. About it not being fun anyways, not about the point of By Any Means Necessary. Learning about games that aren’t out yet (but might be) is probably one of the coolest things – you get to see new mechanics and stories that you haven’t seen before, and provide feed back to DIRECTLY help the game get better. You feel like you’re getting an inside scoop but you also get a hand in helping improve games. Ever feel something and realize, “Hey, there’s a hole in the rules!” or “That doesn’t work the way it probably should.” or “I would’ve had more fun if we could do this on our turn instead.” – you get the chance to give that kind of feedback, so you can see games get better. I get it though – it can be daunting to play a game where you don’t know the rules. But spoiler alert – no one does. Not even the designer sometimes. But this stage in board game design is probably one of the most crucial – you need different people always trying your game so you can improve it. Believe me, there’s only so much your friends can do.

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Hello little slug! He’s from a board game Joshua has been working on called The Visitor – but more on that later!

The other REALLY neat thing about going to playtesting events is learning about the board game industry. I’ve met publishers and other designers, all of whom share stories about the process and what goes on behind the scenes. I’ve learned about what it’s like to pitch to publishers, work with intellectual properties, and how people succeed on Kickstarters. Not only do I learn a lot about game creation, I learn about the industry. I find that this adds to my general enjoyment of games – I respect the games I play so much more, knowing how much work goes into these games.

Alright, Natalie. It’s one thing to talk about these kinds of events, but I’ve NEVER heard of them. So clearly don’t exist. Except they do! They’re not big like your Fan Ex, but I find them way more engaging. For our North American friends, there’s a list of tabletop events here that you can look at (with the odd one being in Canada), a lot of which have the opportunity for play testing new games. If you live in Toronto, Snakes & Lattes runs Board Game Designer nights which you can also attend as a playtester. In general, I recommend reaching out to your local board game shop/cafe and see if they run them. If they don’t, maybe recommend that they start. The more support that can be provided to designers means the more super cool games we get to inevitably play, which is definitely how you can have more fun with your normal game nights.

 

By Any Means Necessary (BAMN!) is a (semi) weekly blog where we try our very best to bring more fun to your Dungeons & Dragons games #ByAnyMeansNecessary!

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