In this post, I will describe how to define game testers and why children are often very good and sincere players. Why we should observe how children play and how it should affect game design? Well… let’s start with the basics:
You are not like your players
This is one of the experience design heuristics. You are not able to look objectively at the game you are creating. You miss a distance and an objective view. You’ve been designing the game for several months (years?) And you know it inside out. Nothing will surprise you. You can handle even these more complex components with your eyes closed. The fact that something is unintuitive for you does not mean that it will also be for others. For first-time players for your title.
Define your player
You don’t design for everyone. You have a specific player archetype in mind. Now answer the question: what does he look like, what other favorite games he has. Is it a teenager who plays all day locked in his room, or a tired father who plays games after the whole family goes to sleep? Speedruner or Explorer? Tank or assassin? If you have a recognized market and real data – you can create a persona, if you don’t have data – it will create a proto persona. But stop making a game for yourself and your colleagues 🙂
Watch real players
Forums, tournaments, fairs, conventions. Youtubers aren’t the most reliable players of a genre. It is similar with twitch. But among them you can also find patterns of behavior that will help you understand how players really use what you have come up with. If and when they get lost in the interface. Which control schemes work and which frustrate. Don’t ask questions, observe and take notes.
The player does not always know what he wants
The player is often unaware of his needs and his problems. Often he cannot define what upsets him. In a direct interview, he will say that he liked the game. He will not pay attention to his pain points, or he will not want to talk about them out loud. Therefore, the individual interview with the player should be carefully analyzed before design suggestions are made on the basis of it.
UX feedback from child-player
I wanted to write about why a child is a graceful object to observe. (Not only because it capsizes frequently) But it is objective and sincere. Intuitive and assimilates knowledge very quickly. From my observations, an eight-year-old child can test your game. It validates your interface very quickly without reading it. Adult gamers don’t read interfaces either. The sooner you come to terms with it, the better.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all games. Horror and strategy games require a more sophisticated selection of testers. But I assume you can estimate that. Just like I don’t have to tell you that you need to have your parents’ permission before you propose anything to their children 🙂
Little Player Experience – Summary
As a person involved in the development of the game, you are not able to test it objectively. If you have money and budget – find a research studio (e.g. us :). If you do not have such funds, you must start testing yourself. Fortunately, it’s not difficult. And if you have a younger cousin and his friends – you really have access to an amazing mine of feedback.