Last weekend I had the very great pleasure to get together with a coterie of other UK game designers at a meet-up hosted by Alan and Charlie Paull of Surprised Stare Games, publishers of Confucius and Fzzzt! amongst others.
This was the third time I had been able to attend, and with five other published and unpublished designers coming for the day we were able to split into a variety of groups to playtest the 15 or so prototypes that between us we’d brought along.
To be able to playtest your designs — anything from already refined prototypes to hastily constructed mash-ups — with other designers is a fantastically powerful and rewarding opportunity, that can facilitate both subtle refinements and speedy on-the-go redevelopment.
I took along one brand new prototype, so new indeed that I had to sketch out the board on a sheet of A4 at the start of the first game, and was very pleased to get two full playtests. The results were very encouraging, and the fertile discussion allowed for some quick-fixing and definite improvement.
But the one thing I took away with me after the event was a renewed appreciation of the remarkable and abundant diversity present within our design community. Every prototype I playtested or witnessed being playtested, every designer’s philosophy about their own designs, every player’s interpretation of the designs of others — all were utterly different and brilliantly distinct.
So what’s the punchline?
How many game designers does it take to change a lightbulb? All of them. One to fix the light, and the rest to say that they wouldn’t have fixed it like that.