As part of today's feature on user testing
, researcher Ben Lewis-Evans offers some helpful feedback for smoothly running sessions: greet your subjects with a script.
"Test scripts, like a movie script, or the recipe for a delicious cake, lay out how the test will go and typically include the order of events, what the events are, and even scripted dialog for the tester to use," writes Lewis-Evans.
"Be specific with this. What happens when the user comes into the room? Do you offer them coffee? Where do they sit? Do you tell them where the bathroom and emergency exits are? Do you talk to them at any time during the test, or only at set points? What build do you load up? In what order to you present the game portions you are looking at?"
This may sound unnecessarily detailed. However, he writes, "if you want the best data, it is good to have at least some consistency, and certainly you need to have some plan for the session. Good researchers can do this and still not come across as a robot."
The consistency in all aspects of testing will help you gather the information you're seeking in a consistent way, writes Lewis-Evans.
"The script should also clearly describe the tasks they are going to be doing during the observation session, this can be as simple as 'start the level and then get to the next level' but it is important that they have clear defined start and end points. This is because you want to know exactly when in this process certain issues or behaviors occurred."
The full feature, which is live now on Gamasutra
, dives into many kinds of observational testing, metrics, and more.