As a freelance game designer I started organising tabletop testing nights for the design community two years ago. By now the turnup is steady and multiple games are playtested during an evening. These days I am a lecturer at the major Game Design of the Hanze Applied university. Even though the focus of the study is on digital games, the act of playtesting is certainly useful for our students. So I often invite students to the Tabletop Testing Night I organise at the ‘Spellenmaakgilde‘ (Game Makers Guild).
While only a few students are interested in designing analogue game, a few of them are becoming regulars at the testing nights. By now often enough students bring their school project to the playtesting event, which is always awesome. This offers an extra platform for them to get feedback. Plus, analogue design offers good practice for practicing game design and getting the experience in playtesting. Learning to give good feedback and dealing with received feedback is essential for designers and the testing nights offer this.
In the course of the study I teach at students have playtesting sessions, of course. Yet this is often less intensive than ideal. Based on my experience with the tabletop testing nights I felt the culture of playtesting together and have a cooperative productive vibe – a passion to create- could be stronger. So as a pilot I set up a extra curricular testing event for a small group of 2nd year game design students. They had run it themselves, my only contribution was setting it up and kicking it off. Not everyone participated, but the students who did liked it a lot. So together with students of the study association we discussed setting up a bigger playtesting event as a next step. The students did excellent work with creating a cool poster (seen at the top) and together we spread the word.
Even though we announced the playtesting event shortly before the actual date, 30 students showed up, not bad! Student from all years participated and as you can see a lot of different games were tested. Besides school projects, also personal projects were playtested. Something we stimulate but not facilitate. With this event there is a place for that and other students can be inspired by those projects. With a small credo ‘feedback is a form of love’ we kicked things off. And the love was given: I observed a lot of constructive -critical- feedback being given. Essential for improving the game and personal design skills. Two lecturers (me included) playtested their game as well. So it was an event at which students and teachers were at equal level in receiving feedback. 🙂
For a first event this was a great start. All involved had a good time. I think that there are more students that would like to participate. We will see how this initiative will develop. So far so good!
Next edition: 17 May 2017!