Game Design Hour: How to Schedule a Play Test

Posted by on April 25, 2017
'Schedule' by pittaya

‘Schedule’ by pittaya

Let me introduce you to Sonja. Sonja wrote a cool little tabletop RPG. She wants to playtest it, running it with a few people to get a feel for the game, but her attempts to scheduled a game have so far met with failure.

She came up with a two-pronged, systematic approach.

First, she identified a handful of friends–face-to-face and online–who she thinks would be good playtesters. She messaged them directly, describing the game in a couple of sentences and asking if they’d be willing to playtest. No firm date yet; just a yes/no question. A couple of them responded affirmatively.

Then she wrote a broad, public post on her favorite social media platforms, asking if anyone would be interested in playtesting. This was a little different than the first message; she described the game in a little more detail, keeping an upbeat tone. After all, she didn’t know the people who’d read this as well, so she needed to provide more context. A few people commented expressing interest.

Note that she hadn’t scheduled anything yet. Instead, she focused on building a list of people who were eager to playtest.

Then she went to Doodle and created a scheduling poll. Doodle’s great because you can list a bunch of potential dates and times, and get folks to vote on which works for them, but you can use whatever alternative is easiest for you. She set up a bunch of time slots when she personally was free.

Then Sonja wrote a separate post, just for those who responded affirmatively to her first two posts, pointing them to the Doodle. About half of them actually filled it out, and she ended up with one time slot with three people.

Boom! She had enough people to run her playtest and a time slot.

Why do it this way? I’ve tried to start the process by scheduling the playtest session, but people didn’t get that interested, and I didn’t get enough responses to schedule anything. If you engage people about the game first, that smaller group is much more likely to work with you to schedule a session.

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