What can you expect to test in a playtest? Do you have to be a super skilled player? And how do we select our playtesters? In this article, our Games Lab Coordinator Mikkel Colbe Nielsen explains the ins and outs of playtesting!
At the Games Lab we help solve real challenges in the games thanks to the people who come here to playtest.
It’s a way to find a direction for the game and its features, and at Massive, we believe that the more you know, the easier it is to make good decisions. And playtesting is a really good guide to make these decisions.
I mean, how can you know a game is good if you don’t test it? We make games for the players, so it’s essential that players actually try out our games and voice their opinions about what we are doing. And we are listening!
But it can be difficult to understand what you should expect when you sign up to become a playtester.
What will you test? Do you have to be a super skilled player? And what qualities make a good playtester?
In this article, I explain the ins and outs of playtesting to make it easier for you to understand what it means to be a playtester, and what you should expect if you would come to Massive for a test!
1. You don’t have to be an expert!
Players come in all shapes and forms and we encourage everyone in the Skåne region who are interested to apply! And you don’t have to be an expert gamer or have played our games to sign up.
We welcome everyone, and every unique perspective offers us valuable insights on how to improve our games.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, who you are, or if you’re a person with disabilities – we welcome everyone, and every unique perspective offers us valuable insights on how to improve our games. It’s not only because we care about inclusivity and diversity (which we really do!) but also because it provides us with the most accurate data, since our players are so varied and different.
The most important thing is that you are having a good experience.
We don’t want you to feel like you struggle and feel that you’re not enjoying yourself. But as long as you’re willing to try it and feel that you’re having a good experience, we encourage you to come!
2. Selecting who can come and play
Another mystery to solve is how we select our playtesters.
If you sign up to become a playtester, you are added to our Massive database. Depending on the test, we have different sets of criteria we need to fulfil to make the study scientific and statistically valid, often meaning that we are looking for as a wide sample as possible. For example, we could then use these criteria to draw a random selection from our database.
An example of a criteria we might look at is your play history. We might want to test a certain feature for a project that requires specific knowledge of a game or genre, so we would need playtesters with that particular knowledge or skills.
The most important thing is that we try to be as inclusive as possible, to reflect and represent all the voices of all the different players out there that are playing and enjoying our games.
This is especially important when we look at testing changes to a game that already exists. If you have played the game before, you can better determine if you think the changes are good or not! But don’t worry, different tests have different criteria, and we have plenty of tests that don’t require any previous skills or knowledge about games.
To me, as a Lab Coordinator, one of the most important things we look for are availability and location. Since all our tests are on-site due to security, we want you to be located relatively close to our studio in Malmö. This is mainly because we can never tell you beforehand what you are testing, and if it’s a 30 minutes test, we don’t want you to waste an entire day on I mean, if you really want to, it’s entirely up to you.
But – as I’ve said before – the most important thing is that we try to be as inclusive as possible, to reflect and represent all the voices of all the different players out there that are playing and enjoying our games.
Will you get compensated? Yes!
At Massive, we give you both monetary compensation for your time and free lunch, drinks, and fika (that is, coffee, tea, and snacks in Swedish).
4. What you can expect to test
One thing I can say, however, is that we never require you to prepare yourself for a test. That is something we take very seriously, as we want you to remain as unbiased as possible!
Usually, our production either approaches us with something that needs to be tested, or they need some knowledge on a specific area before they want to make a decision. It’s our job to assist them in helping them making the most informed decisions by providing them with relevant data and research.
It can be anything from the general feeling of a whole game or very specifically, for example, how you click on different buttons
In general, our playtesting looks at the broader appeal, flow, and feel, contrary to our in-house Quality Control team, which is more technically oriented.
We appreciate if you tell us if you find bugs or technical errors (and we do report them!), but usually this is not what we’re testing (we have our amazing Quality Control team for that). So please, make sure you understand what we’re asking of you in the test, so you don’t focus on things we are not looking at in that test.
The tests also vary in time. Some tests last 30 minutes to an hour, while some – mainly those that require extensive playthroughs of a game – can last several days or even weeks.
5. Honesty is key
We can’t really say what makes a playtester “good” or “bad” since it’s not really something you can be good or bad at, but having an open mind and being truthful to the questions we ask is absolutely vital.
You can never make a mistake when playtesting – everything you do matters in one way or another.
We just want the truth, so we know in which direction to go – we’ll get it somehow!
And do we only want to hear good things? No! More often than not, negative feedback can be even more valuable than only positive feedback – we want it to be honest! And you can never make a mistake when playtesting – everything you do matters in one way or another.
We in the Games Lab are not production, and there is never a developer in the room during the test. We have to remain unbiased and neutral. So even if that means that you didn’t like any of what you tested the whole day, please tell us! We want to hear this.
We are always looking for the truth to guide us to make our games the best possible for as many people as possible.
And we can’t make that happen without you, the players.