playtesting the board game

Here is a piece of experience about how we did the playtesting for the “Game of Hunt”. Hope this can be useful to board game designers or if you are not one of them just enjoy getting more insight into the board game designing process.

So, here is the most common playtesting stages which any board game should come through:

  1. Solo 
  2. With a close friend, family and YOUR Game Group
  3. Conventions
  4. Blind Play Tests
Developing and solo playtesting
We are playtesting the “Game of Hunt”

Let’s talk about how we’ve done it step-by-step. First, solo playtesting – if you’re the one person, who is designing the game. In our case, three of us (yes, I count our son Niko too because he was helping a lot) designed the game and playtested it a hundred times playing as we are from 1 to 6 players. The hardest part was evenings when we tried to balance the Another planet game playing 2 adults pretending to be 6 players (really, try it when you buy the game)… That was a mind-blowing experience even if it is a light family game 🙂

Playtesting with friends

Secondly, of course, we’ve shown it to our friends and their families. And here we’ve discovered the first challenge (not if we did not think about it before of course). The game is for younger kids so we have to make a colourful and working prototype as close to the original game as possible to obtain adequate playtesting results. Kids just cannot play in something drawn on paper without magnets and imagine that it is a book with the games and a treasure chest with the components. You can say, kids have a great imagination, but that doesn’t work this way.

Then it was a several months pause for working on art, graphic design and manufacturing details. 

Blind playtesting during covid-19
Pictures from our playtesters

And now we are coming to even more challenges since we are in the middle of a covid-19 time. We live in Norway and we do not have any big board game conventions (and most of the world conventions are cancelled anyway). We cannot gather any decent amount of people. Most of the time we cannot even have more than 5 guests in our home during a week. And we need to do a lot of playtesting, preferably blind playtesting with families with kids.

So we decided to do the following. We found families (in the local Facebook groups) who were willing to try the game and just deliver a game for them for a couple of weeks. During these weeks and after them we got so much information and feedback! We cleared dozens of typos in the rulebook, grammar mistakes and even some missing rules. Thanks to our dear playtesters!

How can we be sure that playtesters played according to the rules and got everything right? First of all, our game is not that difficult, it is not Anachrony. 🙂 We’ve got a lot of questions from the playtesters and from these questions we understood that it is just the minor issues that we need to cover or rewrite in the rules. Later, after several rounds of playtesting, we made a how-to-play video. So our playtesters could watch our explanation of the rules and say to us if they’ve understood the rules differently.

Pictures from our playtesters
Use of the digital instruments

One of the great ideas during covid-19 time can be to do a Zoom blind playtesting. But we’ve decided to skip that. The game is for families with kids from 5 years old and this could be uncomfortable for most of the kids (us sitting and watching how they play at their home). The thing that kids are comfortable and having fun is much more important than they follow all the rules. But think about the Zoom playtesting if you’re designing a more complicated game. 

Most designers do playtesting in Tabletopia or other different online tabletop platforms now which is good but also would not work in our case. Kids would not enjoy sitting with their parents near the PC and playing a “board game” there. And besides, even if they do, all of us have too much screen time now. 

So, now we have around 70 families who have done the playtesting of the “Game of Hunt” and several who are testing it now. And that means around 200 different people of different ages and with different opinions played our game. 

What do you think, is it a satisfying approach to the playtesting now?

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