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Evaluating games

This is an excerpt from Student-Designed Games by Peter Hastie.

Evaluating Games

You will recall from previous chapters that we define a good game as one that is fun, fair, and safe. The rubric outlined in assessment 12.4 (page 171) has been developed and refined over a series of games-making units with the goal of capturing the elements of games that contribute to their enjoyment and success. In addition, a further goal was to make the scale easy to use by students for quick referencing of where they believed there were shortfalls in other students’ games.

Before completing the scale, students are introduced to the game by the group that designed it. Everyone will then play for a designated period of time following which they will complete the rubric. Given that two teams will usually play, the team that designed the game will receive two sets of feedback. The teacher may also wish to complete an evaluation as well.

The scale uses the technique known as a semantic differential, in which the players are asked to indicate their position on a scale between two bipolar adjective pairs (e.g., boring and exciting). Players simply place a check mark in the appropriate box. If a specific score is required, just add the points values for each item. Those on the far left are considered the least desirable and score 1, while those on the right are the more desired and score 7.

The scoring rubric shown in assessment 12.5 (page 172) is one that should be suitable for younger and less experienced games makers. It still provides feedback about the key elements of good games but limits these to the essential components of enjoyment, understanding, opportunity to play, and fairness. Players simply place a circle around the number that best matches their thoughts about a particular component of the game.

Although some younger students might struggle to come up with new ideas when creating their games, many older students begin a search for innovation and creativity early on in the design process. The rating scale in assessment 12.6 (page 173) can be used in the early stages of game design and focuses on a game’s novelty. Its aim is to give feedback to games designers about how creative they have been in choosing their initial rules. In this rating scale, the players comment upon four key areas of game play: (1) scoring system, (2) equipment, (3) playing area, and (4) player limitations (e.g., are there specific zones in which only certain players may be?).

Learn more about Student-Designed Games.