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Workshop: Playtest Best Practices

Topic: Playtest Best Practices

The workshop will have both a theoretical and a practical component and will cover the following subtopics as well:

• Processing tester feedback

• Being the best  tester you can be


In this workshop, MIT Game Lab design staff Sara Verrilli and Rik Eberhardt will walk participants through best practices for getting useful data and feedback during board game playtest sessions.

Concepts covered include how to be a 'good' tester (as a game designer and as a 'naive' player), how to interact with your testers, and how to best analyze feedback received from testers. 

Bring a Game

Participants are asked to bring in a game to use for exercises during the workshop and be prepared to set it up and explain it to a naive tester in 5 minutes. Each game will be tested for the first 15-30 minutes of gameplay (depending on number of games brought). Participants will be challenged to both run a playtest on their game as well as give feedback to other games using the methods discussed in the workshop.

Instructor Bios

Sara Verrilli has spent her professional career in the videogame industry, starting with the day she walked out of MIT's Course V graduate studies and into a position as QA Lead at Looking Glass Technologies for System Shock. However, her game organizing endeavors started much earlier; she helped found a role-playing club at her high school by disguising it as a bridge group. Since then, she's been a game designer, a product manager, a producer, and a QA manager, in no particular order. A veteran of both Looking Glass Technologies and Irrational Games, she's worked on eight major published games, and several more that never made it out the door. As Development Director of the MIT Game Lab, she looks forward to corralling, encouraging, and exploring the creative chaos that goes into making great games, and figuring out just the right amount of order to inject into the process. And, while she still doesn't understand bridge, she does enjoy whist.

As Studio Manager for the MIT Game Lab, Rik Eberhardt spends his days playing Tetris: with people, boxes, tasklists, equipment, money, and time. When not staring at a spreadsheet trying to fit in another computer purchase, a last minute event budget, or placing undergraduate researchers on a Game Lab project, he's chipping away at spreadsheets on his DS, reproducing pixel-art in Picross and Picross 3D, or managing the ultimate spreadsheet, a game of Sid Meier's Civilization. He is also an instructor for two MIT Game Lab classes on game production and has served as a mentor and director for multiple game development projects including 'elude', a game about depression produced in the summer of 2010. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the College of William & Mary, is a Certified Scrum Master, a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, and is currently working towards a Serious Games MA Certificate from Michigan State University.

Location Info:

160 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

1) You already have the address, but it's right next to the Steinway Piano sign, above the antique shop.

2) Ring the bell for floor four. It is marked "Emerson" on a hand-written tab.

3) Walk to the back and take the elevator to the 4th floor. The elevator is old, slow, and creepy but rest assured it does work.

4) Welcome to the Engagement Game Lab space!

If you have any questions or if you have any trouble getting in, feel free to call or text us at:



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  • Bob K.

    Thank you for organizing this workshop. This was excellent and well-presented. I think it impacts the group in a larger way about the GMG's methodology of playtesting. None of us want to jeopardize the meetup's success, but maybe we should investigate how we are playtesting.

    June 17, 2014

    • Sam L.

      There are many opportunities to playtest with non GMGers in a simillar manner through other board game meetups in the area. Here's one on the north shore­

      June 18, 2014

    • Sam L.

      These meetups happen pretty frequently. Maybe we should co-organize with some local board game groups

      June 18, 2014

  • Jeff J

    Right sized for the time allotted. Leave behind notes much appreciated. Curious if video is helpful. Short exercises allowed enough time to practice the skills. We'll be better prepared for the next "real" GMG meeting when we have adequate playing time. Consider offering again as part of a "membership curation" process--a program where we continuously build and maintain our membership's skills.

    June 17, 2014

    • Don M.

      I just converted the video for editing on my mac. I'm just going to piece them together and put them on an unlisted youtube link later tonight. I'll give Aerjen the link.

      June 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi, is it ok if i come without a game?

    1 · June 15, 2014

    • Aerjen

      Yup, although since it's a workshop you'll be able to benefit the most if you do bring one. It's absolutely fine if it's horrible and broken, since that will make for a more interesting conversation about the game.

      June 15, 2014

  • Steven T.

    Man. I dunno why I do this to myself, I'm not in the US at all and I'm superbly jealous of this.

    Is there any chance of it being recorded on video? :)

    1 · June 12, 2014

    • Don M.

      If I remember to bring mine, I can set it up. It wouldn't be streamed, but I could hand off the files to someone if they provide me with a thumb drive or post it on youtube.

      June 12, 2014

    • Aerjen

      That would be great. I'm happy to get it online if someone has a thumb drive. For some reason I don't have one myself?

      June 12, 2014

  • Sam L.

    This should prove to be immensely valuable! Hoping to see a lot of GMGers here for this one.

    1 · June 3, 2014

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