Thursday, 8 September 2011
I've been reading a few books lately that aren't published, or even complete. There's something really interesting about that glimpse into the unfinished, unpolished work that gives you more insight into the writer's thought processes than you'd ever get if you just read the final book. You have to look past errors and inconsistencies, but in exchange you get a product of raw enthusiasm that has its own kind of beauty. It's nominally a favour, but I love reading and I enjoy that sneaky look behind the scenes, so I keep volunteering.
I used to do the same for board games, especially in London where there were plenty of games designers looking for their first players. Play-testing tends to be a more interactive process than just reading a book and giving feedback. You're playing a game before it's fully developed, and often the game designer is there to make notes and clarify - or occasionally tweak - the rules.
In both cases, if you stick with the process you can get an overview of the development stages, and maybe learn some of the ways in which improvements get made. It's nice to see successive drafts get better and better - and to know, when the final product appears, that in some small way you were part of the process.
Have you ever volunteered for something like this? Anyone else find it simply fascinating?