Every academic semester the Entertainment Technology Center holds a Playtest Day when graduate student teams make available their project work for guests for playtesting. The work is “in progress” with the playtests useful to help improve the final project delivery. The term playtest indicates the use of an experience or game by a guest to see whether it is performing as expected. Guests have in the past tested from three to six projects over the course of two hours, along with an optional tour of the ETC and a meal break that starts off or ends the visit. Some projects have experiences requiring two or more guests at once, while others are meant to be used alone. The following guidelines are shared with guests before they start testing projects:
Listen to what the team needs. Different teams will need your help in different ways. For example, some teams might want you to talk about their art, while others might want to hear your thought process as you play through their game or work through their experience.
Mess around. Playtesting means finding out what’s fun, pleasurable, exciting, or strange about an experience. Don’t hesitate to mess around, try things, and experiment.
Tell the truth about your experience. There are no right answers in playtesting. The most helpful thing you can do is tell the truth about what you think and feel. If you can be precise, that’s great. If not, take whatever time you need to figure out how to express yourself.
Bad news is good news. If you’ve found something that was confusing, difficult, or frustrating, that’s good news for the team you’re helping. Finding it now means they can fix the problem, so don’t hesitate to bring it up.
Describe, don’t solve. Playtesting is about you and your experience – not about solving the problems you discover. Some teams may want you to offer suggestions, but some won’t. Follow the team’s lead!
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. If there’s anything you aren’t sure about, you can always ask questions. Teams may or may not be able to answer you, but there’s never any harm in asking.
Have fun. Don’t forget that half of playtesting is play! Enjoy the projects and have a wonderful time!
ETC project teams often take pictures or video to document the playtest experiences. We require the filling out of an audio-visual permission form so that the ETC students can document their projects with descriptive 3 minute videos. Examples of these permission forms can be found here for minors and here for adults. You can also see examples of such projects on the ETC website for each of the prior semesters’ projects.