For those of us fortunate enough to make it to gaming conventions often there are opportunities to do playtesting of games before they are published and often before all of the kinks have been worked out. The League of Gamemakers has posted a very good blog post on playtesting at conventions. There are actually two types of events that are aimed solely at playing, honing, and feeling out new games, those are Protospiel’s and Unpub’s. These are great little events for game designers and aspiring designers to introduce their games. But too often larger conventions are not so great about providing dedicated space for would be designers to get playtesting done. Many times you will see designers needing to go to the open gaming area or even worse just trying to find people in hallways willing to test their games.
I was fortunate enough to be able to attend both Origins and Gen Con this year. I know that Gen Con did have some dedicated space for people to bring games for playtesting but that is truly the exception to the rule at most conventions. While at Origins though I did playtest two different games. One was in the Dice Tower booth called “Commissioned” that was being played there because the designer wanted to show it to Sam Healey.
But the other game I tested was one where the designer had to basically try to convince people in the board room to play his prototype called “Donut Time”. Trying to get people who have come in with the mindset of playing something else that has been published and had most of the rough edges already rubbed off can be difficult. that is why the League of Gamemakers really is advocating that conventions have a space that is not necessarily massive but simply a dedicated space that people enter knowing that they will be doing playtesting. It sets expectations for both designers, publishers, and testers of what they will see when entering the space.
I would encourage you to head on over to the League of Gamemakers blog to read their post on this and their highlighting of Celestispiel which was held at Celesticon. You can find their blog post here.