The powerful voices in the gaming community have spoken and in terms of board game design, the message is, playtest early and often. I know this is true and therefore, I created a wonderfully perfect plan (as all plans in this stage are) for how I would have kids playtest my game. My husband and I had been hosting story time events and literacy activities in our building, at local libraries and in some of the Barnes & Noble locations in and around NYC. The target audience, you guessed it, 3-5 years old- the exact age of our target audience for our board game. Coincidence- I think not! Planning baby.
Unfortunately, as with so much else, COVID thwarted my playtesting plan and now I’m back at the beginning. I know I need to playtest as soon as possible. I’m operating under the assumption that I will not be able to rely on in-person playtesting. I’ve been able to recruit some family members with appropriately aged children but, for the most part, I think in-person is out of the picture for now. Hence, this post and the strategy we developed to address this roadblock.
As I mentioned, our target audience is children ages 3-5 and their parents. Because this population isn’t necessarily readily accessible on online gaming platforms, we needed to figure out how best to offer playtesting. So, we implemented this strategy which you might find useful if you are in a similar situation yourself.
Step 1: Research
We did some research on the playtesting options out there besides the in-person method. We found two popular options, Print and Play and Tabletop Simulator. Then, we brainstormed a list of questions that we would need answers to in order to successfully begin playtesting with this target audience.
Step 2: Create a Survey
I created a survey with the questions we created using Google Forms. There are a lot of great survey creation tools out there like Survey Monkey. I happen to use Google Forms often in the classroom so it was just a preference for me. We made the survey super short, only 5 questions as well as a free-response space for people to leave us suggestions or tips. I’ll link it here so that you can check it out if you’d like.
Step 3: Post the Survey Where Your Audience Will See It
As you may have guessed, we posted this survey with a short description of the issue and what we were hoping to accomplish on the playtesting thread of Board Game Geek. I also posted it to my Twitter with the following hashtags: #playtesting, #boardgames #boardgamegeek.
Step 4: Analyze The Results
Needless to say, people have been really kind in taking the survey and giving us their thoughts and suggestions on how we could proceed with playtesting. We’re going to use the data we gather to create a plan for us to move forward and create the playtesting experience our audience wants to have.
If you are part of our target audience, we’d greatly appreciate your input. Even if you’re not, but you’d be willing to playtest for mechanics and clarity, that would still be valuable to us. If you’ve gone through playtesting before, please drop us some comments and let us know if we’re headed in the right direction or if you’ve found a strategy that has worked for you. If you’re in the same place as us, hopefully, you can find a way to employ it yourself. If you found this useful and would like to stay updated on our journey, please consider subscribing using the button below!