Real-Time Sweetspot: The Multiple Meanings of Game Company Playtests

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Real-Time Sweetspot: The Multiple Meanings of Game Company Playtests

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Real-Time Sweetspot: The Multiple Meanings of Game Company Playtests
Author(s) Niedenthal, Simon
Date 2007
English abstract
Game design, like gameplay, is situated. Though we find ourselves in a period of global growth and consolidation in the games industry, marked by broad changes in how design work is organized, our understanding of game design as it is currently practiced needs to be rooted in local contexts of production. One useful way to explore the situated-ness of game development is by tracing the implementation of playtesting of prototypes in game companies. The implementation of playtesting serves as an acknowledgement of the complexity of designing for the emergent properties of games, and also reveals attitudes towards the player. This case study of playtesting a real-time strategy (RTS) game under development at a Swedish game company is based upon observations of test sessions and interviews with employees from March 2006-February 2007. Specifically, this study will trace the various outcomes of a single game-balancing (“Sweetspot”) playtest conducted in March of 2006. This test serves as a locus of playtest meaning, and demonstrates that playtesting at the company is used to achieving clarity in the game design process, to support an evolutionary design methodology, and as a means of communicating the state of the game to outside actors. In short, playtesting has meaning in several contexts, both within and beyond the immediate design task at hand. Whether the results of a playtest session take the form of a numerical figure, a written report, or a fast scrawl in the lead designer’s notebook, they need to be interpreted carefully in the light of their complex nature.
Publisher DiGRA
Host/Issue Situated Play;
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Game Development
Humanities/Social Sciences
Note Digital Games Research Association (DiGRA) 2007 Conference, Situated Play, Tokyo, Japan, September 24-28th 2007
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