On Friday 19 May, Playup Perth is once again running its popular social gaming and testing night at the beloved retro-gaming museum Nostalgia Box in Northbridge.
Over the past few years, Playup Perth has developed into the state’s premier playtesting social event, where developers, gamers and the game-curious can come together to chat, gossip, enjoy drinks at the bar and, of course, try the latest and greatest local games in development.
Eight games have already been confirmed for this event, including Desert Child by Oscar Brittain and Elemental Forces by Rhys Walters.
Desert Child is a fast-paced racing video game set in a dusty world where your only friends are a vintage hoverbike and a packet of instant noodles.
Elemental Forces is a board game of strategy and chance where players willing to make sacrifices are rewarded as much as those determined to hold on to what they have.
Playtesting is a critical phase of any game’s development. It allows the designers to get feedback from a neutral audience to fine-tune key aspects of the game such as story, mechanics and usability.
“Playtesting helps pare down your pitch for the game; boil down the reason you’re actually making it, and stay focused on the important aspects,” explains Brittain. Walters agrees.
“Playtesting is essential. Particularly for board games, it’s a great way to ensure that the intentions of the game come through in an unguided reading of the rules.”
Although the ultimate aim of games is to be fun and enjoyable, making them is often a long, arduous and very resource-intensive process. So what drives so many people to do it, often at great personal cost?
Walters laughs. “I tell myself I make games for a number of reasons, but I think the main one is that it’s a creative outlet for me — so I guess it’s a compulsion more than a mission statement.”
For Brittain, it’s gaming’s wide open potential. “The medium is still evolving, and the public’s taste is still broad enough that many different types of experiences have a chance to shine.”
Whatever their personal motivation, Playup Perth supports developers by providing a free, accessible and judgement-free space for road-testing their concepts, prototypes or pre-release builds.
In return, playtesters have the opportunity to speak directly to game creators and see the fascinating world of game development first-hand. For many, attending a Playup event is the first step on the road to entering the game industry themselves.
How do these two young game designers see the WA game industry evolving?
“I feel like WA is uniquely positioned to be a world leader in the
industry,” says Walters. “We have just enough of a cultural bubble to add a unique flavour to our creative products and stand out, but it’s quiet enough that designers won’t be drowned out by the noise as might happen in larger, more bustling cities.”
“Hopefully, the new State Government realises the massive potential and talent that WA has and offers more programs to help support this great industry,” adds Brittain. Walters agrees.
“The more emphasis we put on WA creative productions, the more chance we have of helping the world’s top publishers and distributors see us as a destination for their time and investment.”
But for now, Brittain and Walters will just keep making games. And, with the support of Playup Perth and its intrepid playtesters, they might even hit upon the next Tomb Raider, Crossy Road or Legend of Zelda in the process.