Creating Agile Games for Coaches and Consultants

Portland, OR
Friday, May 01, 2009
Creating Agile Games for Coaches and Consultants
Friday, May 01, 2009 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Pacific Time)

TMI & Quality Tree Software
McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave
Portland, OR 97211

Map and Directions
Course Description:

We find games and simulations incredibly valuable in our coaching and training. Given the number of times we’ve seen “Does anyone have a game or simulation to… ?” on the mail lists, we know we’re not alone. While there’s leverage in using games that others create, it’s even better to create your own games to address your specific teaching points. In this session, we will introduce some essential elements of game design and demonstrate a process for designing a game starting with a learning objective. Participants will then use materials we supply to create their own Agile games.

Learning games are exponentially effective because they engage across all four of the key learning styles:
  • Kinetic/Tactile
  • Spatial/Visual
  • Auditory
  • Logical
Because they operate at so many different levels, learning games are highly effective at conveying complex concepts like those involved in agile development methodologies.

Class Outline

We will introduce a simple process for creating games and simulations:

  1. Choose a learning objective or concept to explore.
  2. Identify important logistical requirements and constraints such as the number of players, the time frame, and the expected skill level of the players.
  3. Choose a mechanism (board game, card game, online game, building challenge, open ended simulation, etc.) that fits for the intended use.
  4. Choose a set of design elements to employ (or intentionally omit) that lend themselves to the learning objectives. (The presence or absence of Collaboration in a game can lend itself to lessons around teamwork, for example.)
  5. Draft the rules by which players will play the game.
  6. Play the game, discuss, and iterate. Keep iterating, tweaking the rules, until the game feels solid and fun, with lots of opportunities for insight.

We will introduce and explain key game design elements including: Strategy, Chance, Choice, Collaboration, Competition, Interference, Balance, Secrecy, Roles, and Turns. And we will demonstrate how to use these game design elements by suggesting ways they could be used to design games around learning objectives suggested by participants.

Elisabeth Hendrickson

Elisabeth Hendrickson

President and Founder of Quality Tree Software, Inc., is a recognized thought leader in Agile Testing and a frequently-invited speaker at major conferences. She enjoys working on Agile/XP projects where programmers are test-infected and tend to value her obsession with testing. Prior to founding her company, Elisabeth held positions as a Tester, Test Manager, Test Automation Manager, and Quality Engineering Director. You can find more about Elisabeth's thoughts on Agile, Testing, and Agile Testing on her blog, TestObsessed.

Chris Sims

Chris Sims is a trainer, coach, facilitator, scrum master, consultant, coder, agile evangelist, and all-around geek. He is the founder of the Technical Management Institute, chair of the IEEE Technical Management Council of Silicon Valley, and is on the board of BayAPLN, the Bay Area chapter of the Agile Project Leadership Network.In the past, Chris has made a living in roles such as: Engineering Manager, Project Manager, C++ Developer, Band Leader, Bass Player, and Auto Mechanic. Now, he enjoys teaching software teams better ways to build better software.

Chris has led Agile Learning Game workshops at Agile Coach Camp and Agile Open Northwest, where the session proved so popular Chris was asked to run it twice.


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  • Thanks to everyone who made this event so great!
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