Since moving back to Newcastle in the north-east of England a couple of years ago, I've played a lot of games. Which is obviously a Good Thing™. But I've tended to play a small subset of my medium sized collection.
Since starting playtesting Codename: Vacuum in earnest last October I've played a lot of games of that too. Also a good thing. But almost all of them have been on a lunchtime at work with Chief and/or Dave.
Don't get me wrong, both of those things are awesome, but for a designer to florish he needs to be exposed to lots of different games to get ideas, and for a prototype to florish it needs to be exposed to lots of playtesters to get a wider range of feedback and ideas.
I've been toying with the idea of hosting a semi-regular playtesting night at my house, but to be honest it would be the same people coming who come to my weekly Games Night, and not all of them are up for playtesting, or enamoured of Codename: Vacuum.
Newcastle has a great games club that meet twice a month on a Saturday afternoon / evening: Newcastle Gamers, but due to family commitments and visiting/visits by friends and family I've only managed to get there a handful of times in the last couple of years. I managed to make it along a couple of weeks ago where I met a couple of other board game designers: Dan and Michał. Dan was keen to set up some kind of playtesting session, and had been speaking to Rob Harris of Playtest London about possibly setting up a Newcastle franchise to complement their existing regular London and Cambridge meetups. Playtest London have been running for the last 3 years, more recently branching out into Cambridge as well. They've test hundreds of games, and playtest members themselves have had some notable successes: recently Matt Dunstan's game Relic Runners has been picked up by Days of Wonder, and Brett Gilbert's Divinare has been put on the recommended list for the prestigious Spiel Des Jahres German games award. Playtest are looking to branch out with several new groups starting this year.
Over the last couple of weeks, Dan (with a tiny amount of help from yours truly) has created the Newcastle Playtest meetup, which will convene every first Tuesday of the month in The Bridge Hotel, Newcastle right by the train station from 7pm. If you live in the north-east of England (or fancy a day trip to sunny Newcastle) why not join us for our inaugural session on Tuesday 6th August?