Game Development Reference
First, playtest results are unmediated, natural consequences. They're
not a system of rewards set up by one person to manipulate another.
They're real results from real life. This means they don't feel controlling
the way artificial carrots and sticks do.
Second, when motivated by playtests, we don't have to limit ourselves
to a boss's expectations or understanding. In pursuit of a positive judg-
ment from a superior, one's achievement is limited to her understanding.
You can't do better than an A+. You can't get a question more correct than
the person judging you understands. But when you're working on reality
instead of someone's judgment, there is no limit to performance, so you
can unlock your entire creative potential. A playtester can always like the
game even more than she already does.
Finally, playtesters are trustworthy. They don't reward us for having
the same opinion or assumptions as the boss. They reward us for doing
objectively good work. So developers don't doubt or rebel against the re-
sponses of playtesters the way they doubt or rebel against the manipulative
opinions of a leader.
Treating people like they'll do good work drives them to do good work.
If everyone treats you like a fool, you might just start acting the part, or
even believing it yourself. If everyone looks on you with admiration, you'll
start digging into your ideas, speaking with confidence, and plumbing the
depths of your ability to think harder and better, because you want to live
up to that image.
This effect appears everywhere. For example, researchers have found
that women perform worse on a hard math exam than men, unless you
tell them that women and men are known to perform equally. Their ex-
pectations of themselves change their beliefs of what they can do, which
changes what they do. Another study found that if teachers were told that
a certain set of children were possible child geniuses, those students per-
formed better than others, even when they were randomly selected. The
teacher treated them like they were smart, so they acted smart.
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