The Newcastle Playtest group of which I'm (theoretically at least) an assistant organiser is part of a larger network of playtest groups across the UK. Playtest UK started in London and then spread to Cambridge before we became its northern-most offshoot. Since our creation, groups in Cardiff, Brighton, Leeds and Enfield have also joined, further strengthening the network. The group runs playtesting sessions at a number of UK conventions and members have published several games including Elysium, Relic Runners and Pocket Imperium. Brett J. Gilbert one of the co-organisers in Cambridge, who submitted a great game to me in my Reiver Games days, has since had great success being nominated for the Spiel des Jahres in 2013 and the Kennerspiel des Jahres this year.
Since my appeal for blind playtesters last week on my blog garnered a grand total of zero applicants, I've decided to harness the power of the Playtest UK group by sending copies of Zombology to a few of the other groups for testing and feedback. Leeds and London have already volunteered (thanks!) and I've agreed to playtest a game for the London group in return. Hopefully this can be an ongoing arrangement where we harness the power of the wider group to gain access to willing (and knowledgable) playtesters who we don't have a close friendship with to gain the honest, critical feedback that you need as part of your game development. Blind playtesting is important for just that reason: to get people to test the rules without you there to clear up any inconsistencies and also to get honest feedback that isn't tempered by friendship. Honest feedback is critical to get a better understanding of how your game will be received outside of the group of friends you usually play it with.
I spent Sunday evening printing and assembling their copies and will pop them in the post today. I look forward to getting an outsider's view of Zombology and using that information to help me plan my next steps.
In other news, Newcastle Playtest had to rearrange our last meeting, since very few of us could make it a couple of weeks ago. It's now tomorrow. I'm in Manchester for the day for work again but fortunately we meet near the train station, so I can amble straight over on my return, I'll just arrive a little later than usual. I'm hoping to get some feedback from the guys on the new version, which is still yet to be played!
If you'd like to try the latest version it's not too late to apply in the comments below.