ETS Assessment and Gaming Spotlight

This has been my “theory” and I’m only becoming aware of some of the research that supports my theories.

Very interesting read…and could be helpful to people writing IF games.

David C.

Interesting document as far as it goes, but I would think that games would fit more naturally with actually teaching people the knowledge in the first place, rather than in trying to assess what they already know. The PDF calls this conflict ‘design constraints’ which seems a bit of an understatement.

I’m debating on whether I want to buy the supporting book “Assessment in Game-Based Learning: Foundations, Innovations, and Perspectives” (

I don’t think it’s that big of a stretch and it’s something I intuitively believe in. If you take this book/research and marry it to the Bob Bates Puzzle Design document, you could potentially arrive at a way to design puzzles around known assessment techniques.

David C.

You’re right. It’s not a massive stretch. It’s just an odd emphasis that doesn’t seem to me to play to gaming’s strengths. A designer’s every instinct is to clue and give away the answers, something you must never do when writing a test (although they often accidentally do it anyway so that you figure out the answers just from the wording, particularly in multiple choice). I could be out in left field but I can’t help drawing a connection between the ‘Games can be used for testing!’ meme and this stuff I keep reading about how standardised testing is completely out of control.

Standardized testing is absolutely out of control, but our education system is worse than just that. I’d argue some kids are getting A’s without actually cognitively grasping content and context. There’s a lot of memorization and keyword search technique being employed by students. Maybe it’s always been this way.

It’s my theory that if a student is empathetically linked to the content they will inherently learn the context and retain the core meanings. I believe IF can do this better than any other medium. Forget that the answers are embedded in the material, the theory is that by asking the student to “act” in settings with designed contexts, they will actually learn the material. You can test them any way you want, but if we prove that a large percent of students retain the correct content and context, there may be no need for a test.

Obviously a theory as a work in progress, but it has potential.

David C.

Not in these here parts. There were always the rote memorisers in every class, but as I recall hardly any tests were designed to reward such. Essay questions were the rule. Even in math, you had to show your work or you’d get half marks. Multiple choice almost never happened, although fill-in-the-blanks quizzes that took ten minutes were fairly common. Many classes, however, dispensed with them in favour of oral presentations and rafts of independent study. I thought it was pretty good, especially in high school (university was a sausage factory). But that was all before standardised testing was introduced in Ontario.

It sounds like there is already no need for most of them. I’m not sure that these decisions are made on any rational basis. I figure it’s more like, politicians come in with their heavily advertised ideology, and cherrypick any data they receive for confirmations of that ideology. But I totally agree about the educational power of IF.