Testing Games


For the most recent Software Testing Club Meetup here in Cambridge I brought Games :)

Games? Why?
I’ve wanted to try this out, as I’ve noticed that playing Games (at least a certain flavor of Games) is a widespread phenomenon with Testers, you can find it as

  • Tracks at Conferences and topics of Meetups (sic)
  • training exercises for testers (we’ve done lunch time games)
  • part of tester interviews (e.g. the Black Stories)

And why is that? The games in use here are mostly focused around areas that can help improve skills popular amongst Testers, e.g.

  • communication (story telling & listening)
  • lateral thinking, thinking outside of the box, logical reasoning
  • observation, processing ambivalent information
  • adaptibility and flexibility
  • spatial recognition
  • creativity

What Games?
To choose suitable Games I used this great list of games taken to TestBash 2016 by John Stevenson as inspiration. Also worthwhile mentioning here is his example on how using games can aid tester creativity. Additionally I got some tips from Gita, who had a Meetup on Testing games previously.

These were the games we ended up having for the evening, including a short description and what skills they might apply to:

Black Stories
A pack of cards with a riddle on each card. One person turns the card over and reads the answer (not out loud). The rest of the group ask questions, which can be answered “yes”, “no” or “irrelevant” and have to find out the circumstances of the situation. Some are relatively easy, some are extremely lateral.

* investigation strategies
* questioning
* lateral thinking
* thinking outside the box

2-x people, 2-222 minutes

Spatial card game that challenges you to be the first to make matches, or ‘Swishes.’ Swishes are made by stacking as few as two or as many as 12 cards so that every ball swishes into a hoop of the same colour. The player with the most matches at the end of the game wins.

* Speed based game
* Exercises patience and spatial intelligence
* Spatial and pattern recognition

1-x people, 15+ minutes

Story Cubes
Rory story cubes are little dice with pictures on each face. The dice are rolled then the players one at a time pick up a cube and using the picture that is face up start to tell a story, they leave it on a cliff hanger for the next player to pick a cube and continue the story. Once the last cube is selected the person who picks this provides an ending to the story.

* Think outside the box
* Visualise images
* Collaborate with others
* Improve collective thinking and communication
* Creativity
* story telling

1-10 people, 5+ minutes

A card game of ever changing rules where the object is to have cards, keepers, that meet the goals. However the goals can and do change along with the rules as well.

* adaptability and flexibility
* dealing with changing tactics and strategics

2-6 people, 5-30 minutes

Setup the parking lot with parking cars. You’re the owner of the red car – and find yourself quite parked in at the parking lot. You can move all other vehicles up and down or left and right in their lanes if there is space. Try to leave the parking place via the exit with as few moves as possible.

* Sharpens sequential reasoning and planning
* Spatial perception

1+ players, 1+ minutes

And, was it worth it?
For me, absolutely! We ended up having a quick go at nearly all of them, and it turned out to be easy enough to get into them without too much time spent on explaining and understanding the rules. These games are pretty suitable for getting started right away!

I personally like the Black Stories most. I like that you can act as group trying to solve the riddle, and I also just love how lateral and unusual some of the stories are. Swish is a close second, as I really enjoy spatial recognition, and find it really convenient that you can adapt this game easily to your skill level. I also find that pattern recognition does come up in testing more often then I originally would have thought. I struggled the most with the Story Cubes – guess I’ll have to play a few more times!

Have fun playing (and testing) these Games! If you’d like, let me know what you think of them, and if there are any others you would recommend playing, please leave a note in the comments.


About Karo Stoltzenburg

Software Tester in Cambridge. Views are my own.
This entry was posted in I've done a thing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Testing Games

  1. Hey, thanks for sharing those games. I am a big fan of gamification and try to incorporate it in my daily work if possible. Coincidentally I used pokerships for story risk/value estimation today and it worked out nicely and triggered some good communication.
    I was in Rotterdam last week and they did one of those “escape games” in the city, which is something I absolutely want to try as I think that it might trigger a tester’s mindset.

    PS: Thanks for your comment as well, which I really appreciate! I actually wanted to post this in my lunch break, but couldn’t remember my password ;)


  2. Pingback: Ministry of Testing Meetups in Cambridge 2017 | putzerfisch – thoughts on testing

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