Reimagine Learning

What Would You Want to Measure Using Games?

Recently, I joined our CEO, Tory VanVoorhis, on a panel to discuss the potential of games in the world of assessment. We explained what games can do, how to build them, and key questions to get you started. To motivate the discussion, we asked the attendees to identify the skills that they might like to measure with games.

Here are the skills that were mentioned most often:

  • Collaboration: In the modern workplace, almost everything we do requires us to work with other people. But traditional assessments almost always require you to work alone, and it’s hard to imagine how you could prove that you have collaboration skills when you’re working by yourself. Games can fill in this gap by providing multiplayer challenges that require cooperation.
  • Critical Thinking: The ability to draw sound conclusions, identify assumptions, and spot alternatives has never been more important. Traditional assessments can measure these skills, but game-based assessment can feel more realistic, nuanced, and dynamic.
  • Communication: Any time you’re working with other people, you need communication skills, and breakdowns in communication are potentially disastrous. Traditional assessments are usually pretty good at determining whether you comprehend something, but they’re less effective at gauging whether you have expressed yourself clearly. In games, however, communication can be built into the experience, and rich scenarios can even give you the chance to demonstrate multicultural communication skills, another key competency in a changing world.
  • Application of Content Knowledge: Having information is always important, and traditional assessments are pretty good at measuring that. But it’s also important to use knowledge to make good decisions, and games can provide realistic environments that simulate the real world. Plus, if you make a bad decision in a game, the consequences are usually not as bad as they are when you make the same mistake in real life.


Other skills that earned multiple mentions included creativity, innovation, strategic thinking, and ethical reasoning. The trend seems clear: our attendees were looking for help with higher order skills, especially those that depend on realistic and complex scenarios, working with other people, and using information to make better decisions.

These answers were revealing in more than one way. For starters, their answers told us something about what people would like games to do. But they also told us something about what’s missing in traditional assessments. After all, if people were 100% satisfied with the approaches they’ve been using for years, why would they change? But of course they’re not satisfied, because traditional assessments are hard-pressed to measure many of the higher-order thinking skills that are in great demand today. Game-based assessment has a role to play here, potentially providing better measurement as it also enhances learner engagement.