This week at PlaytestCloud we're launching the Mobile Playtesting Playbook. It's designed to help you to get an overview of what it looks like to carry out user research for mobile games. It covers the principles and aims of playtesting, methodologies and approaches, player recruitment approaches and challenges, DIY approaches, and analyzing data and subsequently reporting findings.
Alongside these, you will find case studies and further reading, along with examples of how PlaytestCloud’s platform is built to address the challenges thrown up by remote mobile playtesting.
The last thing on my mind while writing the Playbook was being ‘definitive’. One of the most challenging things about getting started with playtesting and games user research is in knowing where to start and, accordingly, feeling confident enough with your results that you can use them to make decisions about your game. More often than not there are multiple ways to get the information and feedback you need. Navigating those different methods can be tricky, especially in terms of knowing what to use and when. More than anything else, I was struck by the guiding principles behind Rami Ismail's Levelling the Playing Field project: shouldn't we aim to share the lessons we've learned in this developing field?
However, just recognizing the breadth and range of the methods available is helpful. You don’t need to be an expert in all of them, and some you may never find a use for; but it’s always good to know what is possible and that there are alternative ways of answering your questions, whether lavishly funded and with generous deadlines, or on a shoestring budget, or with utmost urgency.
And this brings me back to why I avoided trying to write something ‘definitive’. The hope was always that we’d encourage readers to take their first steps into playtesting - by whatever methods they deem most appropriate for their game - or to consider alternative methods and setups, but by showing what is possible rather than telling you what to do. There are other methods beyond those listed here, with new tools and techniques being developed constantly.
PlaytestCloud’s platform is designed to let you run many of the methodologies and study designs outlined. But at the same time we realize that conducting user research for games is a wide, varied field, and while we specialize in providing remote unmoderated playtesting services, conducting practical games user research that effectively combines different methodologies across the development lifecycle can make for more powerful and efficient research programs, and ultimately, better games.
The book is written with nods and hints toward the services that we offer at PlaytestCloud, but in the name of transparency, we decided to ensure that these are always presented separately from the core text. The Mobile Playtesting Playbook is available on Amazon.com, or you can ask your PlaytestCloud representative for a complimentary copy (while supplies last).