How to Build a Game #73 Play Your Games in Public

In our last post we talking about playing games in public. While we focused on playing published games in public, I wanted to take the time to talk about playing your own games in public. Even if they are in a prototype phase, I still think you should play your games in a public setting.

All of the same benefits apply to what I reference in post #72 so in the interest of time, I wanted to cover some specific thoughts about the prototype you use.

I think the most important part should be the approach-ability of the prototype. Remember that no one is going to stand next to your table long enough to notice the foibles of the prototype that you would notice. What you want the prototype to do is to be playable for the people at the table, be approachable for the people walking by and easy to talk about in 20-30 seconds (in that order of priority).

While the chance to talk to strangers about your game is important, you are going to spend some real time playing the game so it needs to function as the full game, or the part of the game you are trying to test.

As far as approach-ability, I think the prototype needs to look “not busy” and have something to grab a passer by. That thing can be color, tokens, artwork (if you have any,interesting clip art applies in this case). Think about a person walking by and ask yourself, “what about this would make me stop and ask, what is this?” As far as the “not busy” is concerned, I think that speaks for itself, don’t have a table filled with bits and pieces. Even if that game comes with a lot of bits and pieces, test a smaller portion of the game and leave the pile-o-things in the zip lock bag.

Something else to keep in mind, when people do ask a question, they don’t know you are a designer and they will not assume that they game is yours. I have never asked but I assume they think you got your hands on a pre-production sample or it is a special published game. Every, I repeat, every time I have told people that I am a game designer, they think it is cool, they then think it is impossible to design a game and then I have 10-15 seconds to say something about the game at the table. There are time where I can steal a full minute.

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

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

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