Don’t trust testers!

Walec was testing Robinson with me for a couple of months. He joined us early Spring 2012 and played during Spring and Summer months. After each test game he was telling me that game is good, and better and better. He was lying right in my face. Just like all 99% of other testers. He was telling that there are emotions, choices, lots of action. If I only listened to him…

But I didn’t.

I was trashing cards, and rules and changing and changing and did not listen assurances of playtesters that game is OK. I knew they had no guts to tell me right into my eyes that the game I want to release for Essen sucks.

Designer presenting his prototype is like young mother with her little boy. Do you really believe there is anybody on this planet who will tell her that her sweet child is fat, bold and a squint eyes? With playtesters is the same. Prototype is boring, chaotic, nothing really super cool, but still they pat you on the back and say: ‘It’s OK!’



In the middle of July 2012, after one of the very last test games of Robinson Walec decided to be honest. He said:

‘It was freakin’ amazing. When we played before to be honest, I didn’t like it. It was rather boring every time. I mean,just a game. But today! Today it was extraordinary. I am so excited!’


I know, you moron! – I said in my thoughts – It’s July! Now I finished working on that game and now it is good. Now! And I know you feel excited. And I know you were lying for the past 6 months!


This week I playtested with Walec our new project. Few weeks ago we discussed few different variants and now it is a time to check them all. Walec came with his prototype, set up it on the table, explained rules and we began to play. It took about 40 minutes.

‘I can’t produce it that way.’ I said. ‘We would need to change components…’

‘Damn it. I don’t know what to say.’

‘Say nothing. This prototype sucks and it goes to trash anyway. First of all [and I explained one reason]. Second of all [and I explained second reason]. Third of all [and I explained third reason].’

In 3 minutes I destroyed his day and trashed 3 weeks of his work.

I did not hesitate for a second.


Play testing is not a tea party at your aunt. This is trashing bad ideas and seeking for good ones. This is not time for being a nice guy.

I hope Walec is pissed off now. I hope he is seeking for revenge. I hope that when I show him one of my prototypes I will no longer hear his damn ‘It is OK’. I hope that with pure satisfaction he will trash my poor ideas.

I hope I finally have a tester, I can trust.

And you, dear designers? Remember – don’t trust testers.

6 thoughts on “Don’t trust testers!

  1. Jeff Patino says:

    I am an IT tester and never trusted so I am OK with your statements… 🙂

  2. Simon says:

    I like reading that article! Short and true! It make me analyze how I test game. But I’m a little bit confuse about one thing, maybe you could help with that.

    I’ve played a lot of games, I’m trying hard to design some game for the past 2 years (so I’m still just a player officially). How can you know that your commentary (if truly formulate) can really push the game forward and ameliorate it? That the commentaries that you give don’t simple shape the game so “I” can like it more (but maybe my tastes sucks…).

  3. trzewik23 says:

    I covered it here:

    Basically, you need to have base of your game. Then you know what shapes your game in wrong direction.

  4. […] sinking: these guys just LOVE every game they play. Maybe they were being polite to me (I love Ignacy Trzewiczek’s story about this). Maybe they genuinely have no capacity for […]

  5. Reblogged this on play without fear and commented:
    Ignacy is a brutal playtester, a concept my pals Dave Chalker and Kory Heath introduced me to a couple years ago, much to my great benefit.

  6. Thanks for this. But please use an English native editor. Your grammatical errors are so painful to read. How’s that for honesty? haha

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