What if of the Week – Playtesting

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What if we (in corporate America) took a page out of the video game development playbook and did “playtesting?” This would be akin to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) but with a few very distinct differences.

UAT vs. Playtesting
UAT testing is a phase of software development that is aimed at getting a BETA version of the software in the hands of the target audience. Often the UAT testers are provided scripts (like job aids) to follow as they test the new software.

Playtesting is typically done by individuals who are brought into a location where the game is open on a computer and they are left to “figure it out.” The beauty of playtesting is that it doesn’t anchor the tester in anyway. If the interface and experience aren’t intuitive, the tester will “fail to launch.” There are no instructions and no job aids. If the User Experience (UX) is solid, the playtester will carry on stress testing the game.

When user experience is intuitive you'll hear comments like - it just works.

So when it comes to eLearning (or any experience) why wouldn’t we aim for “it just works?”

But, you can take it a step further by putting two testers (best if they know each other) in front of one computer and observing the interaction between the two users as they try to find their way around.

 Two testers with one computer will externalize their frustrations to each other instead of internalizing the dialog. As the designer observes the “playtesting” they are much more likely to find legit issues. 

This, like all ideas, is a collision of ideas that sparked a new idea. These are the primary References and Resources:

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