Analyzing Games for Learning The Becker Lazy Test

Becker’s Lazy Test is something I developed some years ago as part of the 4PEG game assessment template (4PEG = 4 Pillars of Educational Games). When I am examining a game, I play it and see how far I can get without reading or learning anything. I simply follow the known mechanics (if obvious) or click randomly. If I can get to the end this way, it does NOT pass as an educational game. The easier it is to progress in the game using this strategy, the worse the educational value of the game.

Put very simply, it should not be possible to get through an educational game by brute force or by random chance alone. Now, I know that this may seem very similar to Margaret Gredler’s claims about games vs simulations made in her chapter on simulations and games in the 1996 AECT Handbook of Educational Technology. In it she said that games should not have a random factor. Now, if you’ve read my book, The Guide to Computer Simulations and Games – especially the chapter on randomness – you will already know how important the “random factor” is to BOTH simulations AND games. Gredler used randomness as a way to distinguish simulations from games (which is misguided), but she also used this as a way to separate games she liked from those she found frivolous. Part of what Becker’s Lazy Test is looking for is whether or not random actions on MY part (as a player) can get me through the game. Every game can, should, and MUST have at least some randomness, or else it is nothing more than a branching story.

These are the questions that go along with the Becker Lazy Test. A ‘yes’ answer to any of these constitutes a pass, and a pass is a bad thing.

  1. Is it possible to get through the game by randomly clicking on things? In other words, could I win the game by simply memorizing which things to click without knowing what those things are?
  2. Are the educational objectives included among the required learning in the game? Can I learn the game without learning the educational part?
  3. Is it possible to get through the game while ignoring the learning objectives? The required learning in the game should be PART of the game and not only found in pop-up screens of text or told to me through dialog.

The BLT asks if a ‘lazy player’ can get through the game without learning anything, and it is one element of the Four Pillars of Educational Gaming, listed as part of the Educational Content pillar. Becker’s Lazy Test focuses on how well the learning objectives are integrated into the game by determining whether it is possible to get through the game without paying attention to the learning goals of the game. If it IS, then the game passes the test, which in turn means that the learning objectives are NOT well integrated into the gameplay.


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  • Last modified: 2015/06/24 15:45
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