The Becker Lazy Test (BLT) for Educational Games

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Becker Lazy Test is something I developed some years ago as part of my 4-PEG game assessment template. (4PEG = 4 Pillars of Educational Games). More on that soon.

When I am examining a game, I 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.

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 AECT Handbook of 1996 (Gredler, 1996) where she said that games should not have a random factor. If you 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 this 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. What I’m saying is if random actions on MY part can get me through the game, then it’s not an educational game. The game can, should, and MUST have at least some randomness, or else it is nothing more than a branching story.

“Lazy Jane” by Shelf Silverstein, originally published in Where the Sidewalk Ends

SO, these are the questions that go along with the Becker Lazy Test. A YES answer to any of these constitutes a PASS. 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?
  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.

Becker, K., & Parker, J. R. (2011). The Guide to Computer Simulations and Games: Wiley.

Gredler, M. E. (1996). Educational games and simulations: A technology in search of a research paradigm. In D. H. Jonassen (Ed.), Handbook of research on educational communications and technology (1 ed., pp. 521–540). New York: Simon & Schuster Macmillan.

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