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Subject: Generation/Culture gap rss

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Glenn Pearman
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I'm at the point of moving forward on a themed, card game that I've been developing for a couple of years now and it's 95% play-tested via friends and family so, fairly solid. I grew up gaming but not in the typical "geek" culture as is commonly found today in game stores, etc. I played Pokemon and Yugioh at high competitive levels but didn't feel the need to win anyone over, just to beat them lol.

For the "public" launch of my game, I'm meeting with a developer's group at the end of the week for a play test. My perceived obstical is this... I am a middle-aged man, father of 4, professional, who was never in the geek category. To be honest, I've probably made my fair share of jokes about nerds/geeks... nothing with malcontent, mind you.

How do I approach this development phase with the most harmony in light of this disparity without coming off as a kiss-azz or any other number of personal barriers?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
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michael colbert
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be yourself, showing a genuine interest in your game and appreciative of the time the members of the group are giving. Be an Alred E Neuman Don't Worry! . Good luck and keep us in the loop.
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Glenn Pearman
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Yea, that dude's pretty flexible! Took me back a few years searching images/memes since I honestly forgot about him for a li'l bit.

Thanks.
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Rich Shipley
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Plenty of gamers are also middle-aged professionals with families. And if you played Pokemon and Yugioh competitively, you were a gamer nerd/geek. Come in humble and willing to take advice and it should be fine.

My other advice would be to find a good editor for your cards and rules.
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Glenn Pearman
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Editor as far as clear, organized, comprehensive, concise, lacking ambiguity, etc?
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Rich Shipley
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Questatement wrote:
Editor as far as clear, organized, comprehensive, concise, lacking ambiguity, etc?
Plus the basics: spelling, grammar, and language usage.
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Glenn Pearman
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Having non-gamers play test it has forced and refined that process well. I did it by accident but I would advise adding a few non gamers in at the latter stages to any developer for that very reason.

My gf is my favorite... "not a gamer in any way, shape or form" yet, I bartered for 3 play tests, separated by about 2 weeks per game. Yesterday was her 3rd play and she was wanting to win so bad that she was challenging every nuisance of the cards and my rules. I never laughed so hard/long during a game. She left demanding a copy of everything to study at home, promising to beat me next time lol.

If she keeps playing, I'll eventually have to let her win of course. Otherwise she'll just get discouraged at some point
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Corsaire
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When entering a roomful of geeks, just don't stare at us like we have horns growing from our heads.

I assure you, they are usually only prosthetics.
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michael colbert
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Corsaire wrote:
When entering a roomful of geeks, just don't stare at us like we have horns growing from our heads.

I assure you, they are usually only prosthetics.

usually.
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Brendan Riley
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Welcome to the community! You may want to join some additional online game dev forums. I'm a big fan of the Board Game Design Lab, a group on Facebook.

I will echo the comments made by others -- just be yourself and be nice, and you'll be fine.

Also, if you have only played with friends and family, and haven't done blind playtesting yet nor done "strangers" playtesting, I would back away from the claim that you're 95% done with playtesting. Strangers will tell you a lot more about the game than friends.
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Glenn Pearman
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wombat929 wrote:
Also, if you have only played with friends and family, and haven't done blind playtesting yet nor done "strangers" playtesting, I would back away from the claim that you're 95% done with playtesting. Strangers will tell you a lot more about the game than friends.
I'm actual hoping so.

Thanks for the welcome and I'll check out your group.
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Jeff Warrender
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Welcome to BGG/BGD. Sorry to have to be the one to administer tough love, but it must needs be done:

My dude, you are going into this thing with preconceived ideas and stereotypes that are really unfair and disrespectful to the people you're expecting to help you with your game. Moreover, it sets you up for disregarding the legitimate feedback you're likely to receive: "what do a bunch of geeks know, anyway?"

I advise: go to this developers' group for several weeks as a lurker or guinea pig. Play their games, get to know them, get to know the kinds of games they design, get to know the way they approach feedback and how they usually deliver it. In other words, make yourself part of the community, and make that your first goal. Don't bring out your game until you've achieved it.

I say this as the organizer of a playtest group, and we get so many people who reach out to us and say "I have a game I need to have tested", as though we're some kind of playtesting service. They show up once, stay until their game has been played, and then leave and we never see them again. It's a transactional approach to playtesting that makes us feel like we're being used, and no one likes to feel that way, whether they're a geek or just a normal bloke like yourself.

I will bet dollars to donuts that your game will reveal all sorts of problems that an experienced playtest group will be able to identify almost immediately. You will be in a better position to take this to heart and to actually act on it if you've joined the community of designers, and aren't just there for a quick rubber stamp before launching a KS or whatever.

(Not all of the above may apply to you specifically but there's definitely a pattern that first time designers exhibit; hopefully this will help you avoid falling into it, which in the end will make your game a lot better. Good luck.)
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Glenn Pearman
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All great advice, thanks.

I have conceptual outlines and notes for a couple more games so I plan to stick around but for those you mention who hit n run, are they at least helping to test the games others designed who are likewise assisting in their game development?

In relationships, I like to keep things fairly equitable from start to finish, even when the advantage might be available for me to take.
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Fertessa
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I have found that gamers come from all backgrounds, and it can still have nothing to do with my gaming experience. I have joined groups with similar-aged geeks of all forms of inclusivity which had a nice atmosphere, but wasn't the best fit for me. Then I found a gaming group of predominantly non poc republican middle-aged men who have nothing in common with me, and I love going to that group.

Gaming is what's bringing us all together, and to me, the best part of gaming is figuring out how people interact with the game and what is the fun part for them. How do we all enjoy the same thing differently? Exploring that, I've found, makes it easier to design games, particularly for other people.

So go into this group with no expectations except to play games, and maybe get feedback. I agree with Jeff that the best way to get the most out of a group is becoming part of the community. And on that note, there are so many communities you can join. The people doing boardgame meetups may have no clue about BGG or they have a clue and just don't care for it. Vice versa, the opinions you find on BGG may be entirely different from the ones you find at meetup groups and game conventions.

It really is a unique journey for everyone, so just enjoy it and let it happen. Don't be fake when it comes to interacting with people. Just be aware if you're having a bad reaction because someone is critiquing your game in a way which irritates you. Not every comment will be something you can use, or even helpful, but it never helps you to lash out or get defensive about your game. Just thank the person for playing and move on to the people willing to give constructive criticism.

And I'll leave it at that. Welcome to the community!
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Dan Ackerman
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I'd like to think there's a geek spectrum and we're all at different points along it -- and, our exact spot on the spectrum changes all the time.

For example, I was a sci-fi/fantasy/gaming guy in high school, became a literal frat guy in college, was later into the nightlife scene and DJing, then pivoted back to being professionally involved with technology and video games, and more recently, tabletop and board games.

Embrace the spectrum!
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Elizabeth Hargrave
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Show genuine interest in other designers and their games and they will likely return in kind.

Don't feel insecure or defensive about being culturally different. Admit when you're not familiar with things. They need their games tested by a diverse set of people.

Your presence may make this insular-feeling design group feel more welcoming to others, as well.

Signed,
A middle aged woman who had to break into the boys club
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Glenn Pearman
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elizharg wrote:
Show genuine interest in other designers and their games and they will likely return in kind.
Theory has it. Unfortunately I ended up with an OCD player that didn't want to learn my rules or play by the objective. 4 hours wasted, other than reinforcing my negative stereotypes.
 
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Jeff Warrender
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Well, I called it, for whatever that counts for.

Maybe the four hours aren't a total loss, because maybe what this session is actually telling you is that:

- Perhaps you're not very good at teaching your game. In my experience, this is true of most designers actually.

- Perhaps your game isn't very easy to learn (because the rules are fiddly or have lots of edge cases or many moving parts or whatever)

- Perhaps your game isn't very easy to play (because the visual presentation is disjointed or there's lots of little text or it has a big footprint and many different things going on or has lots of modifiers to check or whatever)

- Perhaps your game is susceptible to common problems that plague many designs such as analysis paralysis

- Perhaps the objective of the game isn't actually all that clear


I know, I know, surely none of these things are true of your game, which only an OCD geek could fail to play with great facility. I have found, though, that a busted session like this always generates actionable information. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
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Glenn Pearman
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The other player really liked it with the exception that he didn't have to work at winning. Mr. OCD just fed him the win to get the game over with.

My main mistake was not giving OCD das-boot in time for the participating player to get a real taste of the strategic aspect of the game.
 
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Jeff Warrender
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If it took four hours to play even with one player deliberately trying to bring about the end, and if after four hours the players hadn't yet gotten a "real taste of the strategic aspect of the game", this is screaming things about the game in allcaps red letters to me, but maybe as a new designer you're not seeing them because you're afflicted with "new-designer colorblindness" that renders those letters undetectable.

Also, referring to someone as "Mr. OCD" doesn't indicate that you're out of step with "geek culture", it just means you're a bit of a jerk.
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Glenn Pearman
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Ok, I shouldn't say 4 hours wasted. I did play two games from others in that time, via their rules/objectives mind you, and give what feedback I could to potentially improve on their games.

Mine took an hour of that btw. I should say that I got little-to-nothing in return.
 
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Fertessa
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Questatement wrote:
The other player really liked it with the exception that he didn't have to work at winning. Mr. OCD just fed him the win to get the game over with.

My main mistake was not giving OCD das-boot in time for the participating player to get a real taste of the strategic aspect of the game.
2 things:

Why do you refer to the gamer as Mr. OCD? I'm just curious if he was doing things which indicates OCD behavior or if he was just being very particular about certain aspects of your game which rubbed him the wrong way?

As for your playthrough, is your game only a 2 player game or can it go to higher playercounts? If it can support 3, I recommend joining in next time. It's great to be able to sit to the side and watch people play your game, but in a situation where there are only two players, and one player tanks the game, it's good to insert yourself as a buffer so the full game can still be played as intended. Regardless, this is still something you can learn from.

Did you ask why the OCD player did not try to win? Whether it was because they found the game to be to much work to attempt to win, or because theyw ere bored- both are important. If he said he was bored, ask him what kinds of games does he like to play. Does he normally play 4 hour games? If so, then what wasn't working for him in your game?

It's very nice when playtesters are both helpful enough to give good feedback and empathetic enough to spare our feelings, but often you're lucky enough to just get one of those. It's unfortunate he was rude and tanked the game, but that's one guy. You said your experience reinforced your negative stereotypes, but what about the player who did like your game? Did they also reinforce those stereotypes? There will be both good and bad, but it's up to you if your time is a waste. Always come with questions so that if a play session doesn't show you what you wanted, you can get answers to push your design further.
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Glenn Pearman
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My game plays 2-6 and I was the 3rd player.

I'll stop using OCD because I'm largely over it now that I've had my rant but he continuously interpreted my rules presentation with dozens of random things like, "Why can't you make them BLOW each other up when they get too close?" when my game has no mechanics for pyrotechnics/battles/weapons/destruction, etc. I could go on but I won't.

It was basically a real shit-show that I was completely unprepared for.
 
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Corsaire
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Questatement wrote:
My game plays 2-6 and I was the 3rd player.

I'll stop using OCD because I'm largely over it now that I've had my rant but he continuously interpreted my rules presentation with dozens of random things like, "Why can't you make them BLOW each other up when they get too close?" when my game has no mechanics for pyrotechnics/battles/weapons/destruction, etc. I could go on but I won't.

It was basically a real shit-show that I was completely unprepared for.
Ah, now see, this telling of the story is very familiar to most designers who've sought outside feedback. More "a welcome to the club" moment. It isn't unique to games or geek culture; my wife has similar experiences from writing groups: "I see where you are going with the office romance story, but I think it would be better if it was two guys named Bill and Rick and they hate each other and the story opens with a knife fight and it takes place at a mini-golf."
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Brendan Riley
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The one down side I find to playtesting with other designers is that they often make suggestions to "fix" games to make them into the game they would make, rather than the one you're making.

For myself, I try to stick to "I" statements about how the game makes me feel, which parts are good or bad or whatever. Then, maybe after the game has finished, do a discussion in which I might suggest alternatives if they ask.
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