How to Build a Game #37 A Stealthy Playtest

One of the challenges of receiving good feedback from a play test is the challenge of getting “real” feedback. Play testers, in my experience, have a hard time giving a bad opinion about a game. Game Nighters however, don’t have the same issues sharing their real feelings about a game.

Using this as a jumping off point, we can use this as a way to get in some stealthy play testing from a game night group.

For our game Charge!, I took a copy we had made from The Game Crafter and took it to game night. I added it to the pile-o-games and eventually it was picked. It helped a lot that no one had seen the game before and they asked if anyone knew how to play the game? I said I knew how to play the game and explained that this was a game I found on Game Crafter and it arrived earlier that week so I brought it to game night. I taught the game like it was a standard play test and paid close attention to what people were saying as they played the game. One of the players even came up to me later and said the game was a lot of fun.

What that person thinks is just a comment about a game they played, is truly an inspirational moment for a designer. A pure moment of “that was fun” where if that had been a play test, opinions could be biased one way or another.

Now, this won’t work if your group happen to know you are working on that game, but we are lucky enough to have a few game groups and one of them we don’t have any friends outside of game night that keep up with our design progress.

If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

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If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We are thinking about starting a regular Google hangout with other designers. We can try to design a game together, we can talk about designers we are working on, you can ask us questions. We can make it whatever we want. What we really want to do is get to know the people that are willing to read all the way to the bottom of our posts. Please contact Chris on Twitter or send him an email and if we are able to get a minimal amount of interest, we can work on putting something together.

2 thoughts on “How to Build a Game #37 A Stealthy Playtest

    • A week later one of the people who played came up to me and commented positively about the game. They asked specifically how I had found out about the game and I told them we designed it. His reaction was a mix of head nod and slight smile. Considering he was the poker face of the group, I was happy with his reaction. As for the rest of the group, I did not tell them anything.

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