This first workshop focuses on using playtesting to explore a design space. It emphasizes problem finding, exploratory methods, and interpreting qualitative data.

Bring stakeholders into the ideation process in order to help define the design space and clarify the core problem and/or characteristics to be expressed in your game.



Methods for Playtesting in Explore

  1. Observe:

    Identify what you want to know about your players - Looking for specific behaviors that relate to your player experience goals.

  2. Probe:

    Gather player responses to the ingredients of your game - trying out multiple versions of an asset to see which achieves your player experience goals.

  3. Test:

    Explore the applications of a game mechanic - discovering what experiences a mechanic engenders and applying your findings to your player experience goals.

  4. Co-design:

    Partnering with stakeholders throughout the design process - applying outside expertise to inform your player experience goals.

Downloads (Last Held On: 1/15/16)



Give overview of playtesting, why it matters through real world examples and how its used in exploration phase. Includes "Introduction to Playtesting" slideset, an overview of the importance of playtesting, why designers do it, and some of the methods the game industry uses.


Handout: Bridge Activity (Composition Box Guide)

A worksheet that is intended to guide you through the creation of your own "Composition Box" poster.
Given to students two days before workshop.


Explore Handout

Supplemental follow-along for the Explore slides.
Given to students during workshop.


Handout: Playtesting with PLEX Cards: Idea Generation with Players

Provides three different playtesting methods that use PLEX cards to generate ideas with players.
Given to students during workshop.


PLEX Cards

Playful Experiences Cards are for designers, researchers and other stakeholders who wish to design for playfulness.
Credits: Andrés Lucero & Juha Arrasvuori (funkydesignspaces.com/plex)


Toward a Process for Critical Response

A short paper about the Critical Response Process which helps users get clear answers to open-ended questions.
Credits: Liz Lerman


MDA Framework

By: Robin Hunicke, Marc LeBlanc, Robert Zubek

MDA is a formal approach to understanding games - one which attempts to bridge the gap between game design and development, game criticism, and technical game research.

MDA Framework

Motivations of Play in MMORPGs

By: Nick Yee

Yee built an empirical model of the underlying motivations of MMORPG players. This model provides a meaningful way to differentiate players from one another and a tool to explore in-game preferences and behaviors.


Why We Play Games: Four Keys to More Emotion Without Story

By: Nicole Lazzaro

XEODesign conducted an independent cross-genre research study on why people play games and identified over thirty emotions coming from gameplay rather than story.


Six Viewpoints: A Deconstructive Approach to Theater

By: Mary Overlie

The Viewpoints process reduces performance to a code. The structure we see through The Viewpoints is made in six basic windows of perception that are used to create and view theater.

Six Viewpoints

Evolution of the Mind: A Case for Design Literacy

By: Chris Pacione

"I do believe basic competency in design lies at the root of what it means to innovate; it's a very important and strategic activity individuals and organizations attempt every day."

Six Viewpoints