Games as Tests: Where Does That Movement Stand?

Educators have advocated weaving testing and learning into games for years. Where does that initiative stand now?

The question occurred to me in reading Ethan Mollick writes highly engaging posts about a variety of subjects often intersecting with the world of education. In this recent post, he wrote, “Hire good gamers! Video game performance can act as a “stealth test” of real skills:

Good Civilization players have better management skills

Performance in MOBAs like LoL correlates with IQ

Guild leaders in World of Warcraft are more likely to be good leaders in real life”


I know almost nothing about these games — and Mollick also points out in a follow-up posts some games Battlefield 3 that do NOT correlate with IQ.

So shouldn’t games be a dominant form of assessment and more importantly of learning? (Remember my mantra ‘No Tests but for Learning!’) Friends and former colleagues like Val Shute, Matt Ventura, Malcolm Bauer, and Diego Zapata-Rivera published on the advantages of games fifteen years ago as in this paper. Seven years ago, I co-produced this video executed by the astonishingly talented Sue Borchardt that in five minutes enabled Andreas Oranje, the current VP of Assessment & Learning Technology at ETS, to explain game-based assessment. Lots of people I knew studied the possibilities: Bob Mislevy, Tanner Jackson, Alina von Davier, Gabriela Cayton-Hodges, Carol Forsyth. And many more I apologize for not mentioning here.

But where do we stand now with the use of games? Please post links in replies here that may answer the question especially in the mode described by these researchers who explored the use of games for cognitive based assessment of, by, and for learning. Answers, please as to why we don’t see more about using games in this way.

2 thoughts on “Games as Tests: Where Does That Movement Stand?

  1. Marianne Talbot

    Well, this is an area I feel wholly unqualified to comment on, but that’s not going to stop me. I don’t play these games myself and have never really understood the attraction, BUT my kids (now young adults) do, and have done for nearly 20 years. Talking to them and occasionally observing them playing, I can see the learning they gain from various games, such as strategy, cooperation/teamwork, team building skills, communication, hand-eye coordination… I took a look at Ethan Mollick’s Twitter feed (tweeting is something else I don’t do) and agree it is a fascinating area; perhaps I need to be a bit more open-minded. He mentions Minecraft, which, as a parent, has long been one of the games I have tolerated more than many others as it’s world-building seems to hold some merit. I assume there is research somewhere comparing games played alone with games played in pairs/trios/groups? I see a potential rabbit hole ahead, so I will stop now, but thanks for the stimulating ideas, T.J., as usual.

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