In my previous article, I compared assessing the stability and performance of a game to vigorously testing rock-climbing gear. The comparison between the two disciplines does not stop there. For a climber, reaching the top of a wall is hardly ever a one-time effort. First, they build a foundation of weightlifting, flexibility training, and the like; then comes the actual climbing. A climber will put in hours over several months in order to progress through a route, one hold at a time, finetuning every movement to be able to go higher, expend less energy, and you know... not fall.
Games out there go through the same ordeal. Much of the work happens far from the public eye: game design, early development... and when the time comes to start climbing, the best games get themselves “in the real-world". Game industry professionals working on a given title are, counterintuitively, not well suited to provide unbiased feedback. Playtesting, user feedback, balancing… all these activities require the insight of gamers-as-consumers.