• Playtesting Study by Carnegie Mellon University Researchers

    by  • July 7, 2014 • News • Comments Off on Playtesting Study by Carnegie Mellon University Researchers

    Playtesting matters. Studying how playtesting works is important because evidence-based practices save time and energy and give us a better starting place.

    Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have put out a call for folks who have released independent game products to participate in a study on playtesting practices.

    Be still my heart!

    Months out of my year are spent providing the opportunity, space and testers for designers looking to put their newest creations through the paces. I am a principle at Double Exposure, Inc. We run Metatopia, a game design festival that is at least half playtesting, and we run the First Exposure Playtest Hall at Gen Con. To say that playtesting shapes my life and that I spend a lot of time thinking about playtesting practices is an understatement.

    While large organizations have processes and mechanisms for playtesting, smaller independent entities often have to invent the wheel anew every time because they exist in microcosms that don’t intersect. Organized playtesting events try to address the issue of microcosms, and “best practices”. To be honest, we are feeling our way through this uncharted territory. Every year, I hear about a new event designed to facilitate the process of testing assumptions and processes with players outside of your home play culture. This is all vitally important, and I feel like the results of this study will encourage us to examine and test our own assumptions about what works and how to succeed at this vaguely defined thing I put in a “making games better” bucket.

    In my private conversations regarding “the gaming industry”, I’ve picked up the drumbeat of “representation matters.”

    In the academic study of gaming and gaming practices, it matters as much or more than any other place. We know that women contribute a tremendous amount to the fabric of our communities. Your voices are important when we talk about when and where and how we make these things happen, and your voice matters to this study1.  Please, I urge you to find the bravery, the confidence and the hour of your time to contribute.

    Below is the press release being distributed by this team of visionary researchers.

    Have you designed and released a role-playing game, hack, or supplement? A research team from Carnegie Mellon University is conducting online interviews with role-playing game creators about their design and playtesting process. We would like to talk to independent designers of all sorts, including story-game designers, the OSR, fan supplement creators, and more.

    Interviews will happen online, and will last about an hour.

    To be eligible for this study, you must have independently released a role-playing game, hack, or supplement (e.g. not work-for-hire or part of your full-time job). You must also be over the age of eighteen.

    If you would like to participate, or if you have any questions, please contact the research team at playtest@cs.cmu.edu.

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    1. At the time of this writing, there is a need for more women’s voices in the participants.


    At heart, Avonelle is a larp player, designer, writer who happens to run gaming conventions.


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