British game designer Graham W has kindly granted Imagonem permission to publish some of his thoughts on feedback.
How to Give Feedback on Someone’s Game
1. Be positive.
(This game is someone’s pride and joy. Treat it well.)
2. Help them make the game they want.
(Don’t try to make the game you want.)
3. Say how the game went for you.
(What went well? What felt rough? What didn’t you understand?)
4. Don’t offer solutions.
(Let the designer fix the game.)
5. Play first, give feedback afterwards.
(If you analyze as you go, it won’t be fun.)
6. Accept that you’ll often be ignored.
(Not all feedback gets acted on.)
7. Bring others into the conversation.
(And don’t get stuck talking about one thing.)
8. Don’t be a man.
(Try facilitating rather than talking.)
How to Get Feedback on Your Game
1. Play the game. Watch what happens.
2. If you want particular feedback, say so.
(If you don’t, then say that too.)
3. Thank people for their feedback.
(Don’t justify yourself.)
4. Don’t take feedback at face value.
(What they say isn’t always the thing that needs fixing.)
5. Don’t feel you must act on feedback.
(You won’t act on most feedback, especially if it conflicts with your design goals.)
6. Remember: even good games fail.
(And you learn more when a game fails.)
Graham is a Gold Ennie award-winning game designer, who has published Stealing Cthulhu, Cthulhu Dark and A Taste For Murder, amongst other things. He wrote Trail of Cthulhu’s Purist series for Pelgrane Press and has also written for The Laundry RPG and Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space. He is currently working on The Tavern and Disco World. You should buy him red wine.
Cover photo (kids with masks): Li Xin, all rights reserved.