You know what game designers hate more than anything else? Playtesters! They come out in droves during game nights and meetups like so many zombies, with their relentless willingness to help you. Ugh! Can’t they see that you are the smartest and most perfect game designer in the world, and they would only steal or taint your completely original idea with their… what’s that called?
You know what I say to feedback? FIGHT BACK! Using these handy tips, you can scare away any playtesters and make sure you keep them and their so-called “help” far, far away from your precious and amazing game.
- 1. Have a scary looking prototype. If you have graphics, make sure they’re pixelated and do nothing to help clarify the mechanics of your game. Cover every square inch of your board and card designs with text to make it look as busy and complicated as possible. Better yet, draw it yourself on index cards, then erase and redraw it several times to reduce clarity! And make sure to squeeze core instructions in the smallest space to confuse everyone. Bonus points if you use game pieces that don’t actually fit on the board you’ve created.
- 2. Have a scary pitch. Now, sometimes you’re going to want to ask people to play your game. Not because you actually want them to play your game, but to give them a taste of the true horror of what your game would do to their feeble minds. Go into confusing backstory and complicated rules immediately, and if anyone starts to ask questions like “how long is it?” or “what kind of game is it?”, tell them you’re not sure, because it defies any and all genres and temporal measurement devices.
- 3. Look for the weak groups. Playtesters can come from lots of places, from the 50+ person monthly meetups in your area to the family that lives next door. When you go to a new venue, you might be inclined to play a few games that are not Your Game to get a sense of what the crowd likes, what their response is to incomplete games, and if you feel you’ll get good feedback if you bring your game out. Well, I’m here to tell you to FORGET ABOUT IT. Dive across your family’s game of Uno, slam down your 3 hour worker placement game, and if they look like they’re confused or overwhelmed, stare them down until they submit, emitting a low guttural growl as you ask them to sort the meeples by color. If it works for packs of wolves, it’ll work for you.
- 4. Defend yourself against all feedback. Now, some good-natured sop actually played your game, and survived. They’re going to tell you their experience during and after the game. And you have to ignore it at all costs. Consider earplugs, loud music, or hiring a man with a leaf blower to walk by your door at regular intervals. In a pinch, loudly crunching Cheetohs will block about every other word, but only go that route if you have no other options. Cause yeah, who wants Cheetoh grease on their game?
Have you ever been accosted by play testers? What are your tips for scaring them away?