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9 Apr 2014

Finding Playtesters Locally

Months ago, I wrote a two-part series detailing how to find playtesters and using them to improve your game. One tip stated that you need to consider finding local playtesters only, and while I mentioned that you can gauge what people in your studio think about your game, you ultimately need other people to playtest the game. Besides, what if you are outsourcing the entire game development process? Who is going to playtest your game, you? You need a better plan of action.

Sure, places like Craigslist and are decent places to start as mentioned in the posts linked above, but what if you want to think a little ‘outside the box?’ What if you want to find local players that will ultimately provide valuable insight into your indie game, yet you are unsure how to do so? The following tips will help you to find potential players that will play your indie game in front of you, allowing you to judge their body language, facial expressions, etc. to gain even more insight into what the average players thinks about the current state of your indie game.


Local college/university

If you have a college and/or university in your area, chances are they may have a video game club. Check the official website of the colleges/universities in your area, try to spot a directory of clubs, or simply contact someone in the student services area of the institution and ask them if they know of any such clubs existing. You will be pointed in the right direction, and while you’re at it? Ask if it would be possible to post flyers around the campus to see if anyone would be interested in playtesting. As a sign of good faith, offer to meet someone in the department to introduce yourself (i.e. show them you’re not a total creep), you’re legitimate, and what you are trying to achieve. Most colleges and universities will be perfectly fine with this.

Also, consider contacting the institution’s school newspaper and tell them you are looking for ‘a few good men,’ to playtest your indie game. At my school newspaper, we were always hungry for new leads to write about. One of the students may even interview you and write about your studio, what you are trying to accomplish, and so on.

Alternatively, if you are still a student, you probably already know of a game club at your institution. And if you don’t have one? Consider forming a video game club! Not only will this produce new leads for playtesters, but you’ll have fun at the same time. In fact, you may find future employees for your studio in this club too, so it’s definitely worth pursuing.


Local arcade/Game shop/Entertainment shops (i.e. where the gamers go)

If you still have a local thriving arcade, this is a great place to meet potential playtesters. Ask the owner if you can walk around the premises for a time, meet and hand out business cards to local players, and inform them that you are looking for playtesters. If the owner is on the fence, tell them you’ll give a big shout out to them in the credits of your game or even include the arcade name in part of your game if applicable. The novelty will possibly be enough that they will agree to the conditions.

You may even want to visit a local game shop, entertainment shop that sells video games, etc. Especially consider placing flyers in a local GameStop or a place that sells video games, as you will definitely catch a lot of people’s attention this way. Comic shops, book stores – essentially any place where people interested in video games will typically frequent – is fair game to place flyers at. Just be sure you get the owner’s permission before you do.


Community newsletters/Local magazines

You know those pesky community newsletters you get in your mailbox every month? They’re more than just another thing you have to throw away. These newsletters exist to spread the word about what is going on in your community. Contact the team behind writing these newsletters and inform them that you want to announce you are looking for video game playtesters, and most likely they will help you out. This is one of the most powerful methods on this list because, think about it, this newsletter is going to be in the hands of every resident in your area. Most may throw it away, but those that don’t? They may be interested in playtesting or tell someone that would be.

Also consider placing an ad in a local magazine or even your local newspaper. The effectiveness of newspapers are not dead yet! People still read them, so don’t rule them out.

With enough work, you can easily find playtesters in your area alone that can provide valuable feedback for your indie game. Do you have other methods to use for finding local playtesters? Let us know in the comments below!

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