Updates from Playtesting Workshops

A Plethora of Playtesting Questionnaires

Questionnaires aimed at getting different kinds of data out of playtests:

Immersive Experience Questionnaire (IEQ), a questionnaire for helping the playtester express their immersion experience. IEQ

Player Experience of Need Satisfaction model (PENS), method of measuring what parts of the player's experience are most valued. PENS

Too Many Questionnaires: Measuring Player Experience Whilst Playing Digital Games Too Many Questions!

Posted by: Rachel Moeller on November 8, 2015

Refine Bridge Activity Available

A worksheet that shows you how to move from explore to refine with compositions. Download it: here

Posted by: MacKenzie Bates on February 1, 2015

Asking Good Exploratory Questions

First, thank you all for taking part in the first playtesting workshop, EXPLORE. The turnout was fantastic, and we barreled through a lot of new material and methods. The design of these workshops is an iterative process, and one thing that I noticed as we sped through the composition boxes and the critical response process, is that we did not spend enough time discussing what makes a good question or what kinds or questions are useful to pose to players this early in the process.

I saw several teams posing questions to the group that boiled down to: "How would you design my game?" I realize this may just be where you are in your design process, but trust me you do not want the public designing your game for you!

Your goal is to learn about the PLAYER.

We all make meaning out of our previous experiences, feelings and values. You want to be able to build, shift or play on these in the game you are designing, but first you have to understand how other people make meaning.

You want to know:

  1. What is their previous experience with this type of interaction, game, or problem?
  2. What feelings and memories do they associate with your theme or idea?
  3. How do they CONNECT personally to the elements, themes and features of your game?

As your design develops, your questions can become more specific, targeted around a narrower set of elements. As you shift into the prototyping phase, you want to know if the player's experience of the game matches your intention. You can push players to give you more critical, thoughtful responses to your design choices by carefully crafting open-ended questions.

Players are constantly reading meaning into your design, whether it's intended or not. You are looking for a window into the player's understanding, so that you can build an experience that meets your players where they are and engages in conversation with them.

A Helpful Way to Structure the Conversation (Adapted from Liz Lerman's Critical Response Process):

  1. Ask open questions. Let the player tell you what they liked:

    Observation -> Statements of Meaning

    1. What did you think of the game?
    2. What was memorable / evocative / striking / compelling / unique?
    3. What provoked a memory, feeling or new thought?
  2. Ask targeted questions:

    Open-ended question about targeted aspects of the game

    1. Find out about the player's ASSUMPTIONS and EXPECTATIONS
    2. Tests whether your design INTENTION matches the player's EXPERIENCE
  3. Allow the player to ask you questions:

    Clarity -> Future Explorations

    1. The players will reveal where they got confused or what they want more of
    2. If you have the ability, ask players to frame the question with: "Why did you choose...?" It orients the conversation toward your design choices, reminding us all that each element is a choice and that all choices could be re-examined.
  4. Engage in discussion as you feel fit:

    You decide how deeply you engage in conversation

    1. Answering players' questions will lead to a discussion not only of your choices, but likely of alternate solutions.
    2. Consider: do you want to hear your players' opinions?

Posted by: Judy Choi on January 27, 2015

Explore Materials Available

All the worksheets and slides used in the Explore Workshop are posted. Also available is a long list of scholarly sources to dig into specific topics. It's all accessible here

Posted by: MacKenzie Bates on January 26, 2015

Goals of Playtesting Workshops

Provide Understanding of Playtesting

These workshops hope to give students a clear picture of what playtesting is and how it is used in game design (and in the game industry). Through various activites, we will work to break down incorrect assumptions and replace them with a refined set of playtesting skills.


Expand Playtesting Knowledge Base

A long term goal is that the developed workshops will be used in game design courses at other universities and at small game companies who do not have resources to have their own Game Testing Organization (GTO).