How to run unbiased player interviews

Every stage of preparing, running and analysing your playtest interviews. Plus tips on how to reveal player’s honest thoughts, and apply that to game design decisions.

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Interviews are a valuable tool for playtesting. They allow us to explore what players have done historically, before they took part in the playtest (for example – why did they decide to buy this game!). 

Asking questions throughout a playtest will expose what is going on in player’s heads, and explain their in-game behaviour. And interviewing players after a playtest will allow us to probe deep into their opinions and understanding of what they just played.

It’s a core skill for playtesting.

PlaytestCloud have recently launched a new tool for player interviews. As part of the launch, I’ve partnered with PlaytestCloud to write some guides for interviewing players – aimed at game developers who haven’t run player interviews before.

It’s easy to get interviews wrong and accidentally ask leading or biased questions. And I know many find it difficult to deal with the masses of raw data interviews generate – how to work out what to include, what can be ignored, and generate useful conclusions.

In this series of articles, I explain every stage of preparing, running and analysing your playtest interviews, and share tips on how to reveal player’s honest thoughts, and apply that to game design decisions.

Preparing for your first interview

In the first part of the series, I look at how to decide when an interview is the correct method for your playtest, and get ready to run your first interview.

Once you’ve decided you do want to run an interview, I look at how to turn your research objectives into sensible, unbiased questions – and how to prepare a script to run your first playtest interview.

I also share some of my most common and trusted interview questions! 

Read the full article on preparing for your first player interview on playtestcloud.com

Moderating your player interview

In the second article, I look at what to do when you’re actually speaking to players. 

This includes:

  • How to make a safe space where players feel confident sharing their honest opinions with you
  • The value of understanding the player’s context, what they play, and how they play games normally.
  • How to avoid introducing bias when asking probing questions to dive deeper into player’s answers. 

Read the full article on how to ace the interview on playtestcloud.com

Analysing your playtest interviews

In the final article in the series, I look at how to handle the data generated by interviews.

I give some tips on how to take high quality notes, and then describe the process for theming them and identifying which issues are the most important.

Then I discuss how to document and share your conclusions, to make taking action on theme easy.

Read the full article on how to analyse the interview data on playtestcloud.com

Interviews are the only way we have to understand players thoughts

During playtests we will see players do unexpected things. To move beyond guessing what the problem is, and why it occurred, user researchers + game designers need to be confident with asking reliable questions that will get unbiased answers.

Following the approach above will help you run a rigorous playtest that gets answers you can trust, and use to inspire game design decisions and iteration. 

Integrate player insight throughout development

Every month, get sent the latest article on how to plan and run efficient high quality playtests to de-risk game development. And get Steve Bromley’s free course today on how to get your first 100 playtesters for teams without much budget or time.

Plus your free early-access copy of ‘Playtest Plus’ – the essential guide to the most impactful playtests to run throughout development of your game

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Meet the author

Steve Bromley is an expert user researcher, who works with studios of all sizes to run playtests, and integrate user research into the game development process.

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