feedback on feedback: your play testers and you.

My designer buddy, Kevin Nunn, is exploring the different ways we game designers utilize play tester feedback. That series of articles has sparked an interesting discussion in the comments and is worth reading.

“Give me problems, not solutions.”

So said our mutual friend. He’s interested in a play tester’s gut response to his game, to help pinpoint elements of the design that aren’t working as intended or which cause un-fun moments in play. His job as a designer, as he sees it, is to analyze those faults and propose solutions to them to achieve the play experience he’s looking for.

Kevin has a somewhat different philosophy of utilizing play tester feedback. He sees the designer’s role in play testing as a winnower. Kevin listens to everything his play testers have to say and sifts through the inevitable chaff to glean the fat kernels of insight that will inform his future design choices.

Our mutual friend’s mantra struck me as something of a revelation: I’d never imagined so direct an approach to play tester feedback. “Give me problems, not solutions.”

so many solutions

Considering the argument from a data analysis perspective, if a dozen play testers offer a dozen solutions to a single problem, the useful data is the problem, not the solutions. 

Food for thought.

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3 thoughts on “feedback on feedback: your play testers and you.

  1. I would certainly agree that the understanding of the problem is the _most_ useful data. But if people want to offer solutions to my problems–even if many of the offers aren’t useful–am I not a fool to refuse them? And don’t the proposed solutions themselves offer insight into the problem?

    I guess it depends on how much time you have to sift through the proposed solutions.

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  2. Indeed, Carl. I suspect time is a critical factor in the two views. One is a professional free lance designer juggling half a dozen concurrent projects with aggressive deadlines, and the other is a part time designer with a day job and less time pressure. I think both approaches are useful in different circumstances. As a Protospiel-trained designer, I relish the intensely collaborative play test sessions and feedback we generate, but I can appreciate the opposite viewpoint when playing with non-designers.

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