June 19, 2023

The value of early stage user testing

We test our game concept on our target audience at a very early stage. It's a great tool facilitating an interactive design process, and it can also work as a quite cheap insurance policy. It is very time consuming to develop an educational game that users want to interact with. Early stage user testing can provide crucial insight about the potential of your core concept, and limits the risk of you spending years developing a product that holds minimal value. But you need to know what to look for, and what to ignore.

The joy of mastery

The joy of mastery instills a profound sense of accomplishment and self-efficacy in players. As players overcome obstacles, acquire new skills, and achieve higher levels of proficiency, they develop a belief in their own abilities to succeed. We actively look for hints that suggest that the players are experiencing mastery. These hints can be subtle. Like a player's ability to stick with the game, or a small smile in the corner of the mouth of a player. Other times they are quite easy to catch. In our latest user test a girl suddenly shouted out “Yes! I kill you!” For us this signals strongly that we might be onto something interesting.

The ability to stick with frustration

Another thing we look for in early stage user testing is frustration. It might sound strange, but we wish to see frustration in our users. To be more precise; we wish to see that the user is able to push through the feeling of frustration. To us, the frustration is a sign that the players are being challenged. And the joy of mastery is much more valuable when the challenge that is faced is hard. This is a dance on a tightrope. You need to get the balance and progression right. And user testing is our tool of choice for the task.