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Teaching Evolution Through Board Games

How we rated the games

For each category, a value of 0-5 was given, with 0 being poor and 5 being excellent for the category.  Two exceptions were Education Value and Fun Factor, which were worth up to 10 points each.  Final scores were summed, converted to a percentage, and multiplied by five.


Learning the game

Rulebook: How difficult is it to understand rules and how well are they presented in the rulebook?  Can you learn the game on your own, or do you need to watch several 'how to play' videos?

Game complexity:  How complex is the set of rules?  What proportion of time is spent thinking and planning instead of resolving actions?   How hard and long do you have to think to improve your chance of winning? How much technical skill (math, anticipating several moves ahead, etc.) is necessary? How long does it take to learn the rules?  How many times do you need to play before you feel like you "get" the game?  This score was scaled by the educational value we felt the game provided relative to the game complexity.


For this category, scores: 0= overly simple or complex for the amount of education value provided, 2.5= a little too simple or complex for the educational value provided, 5= perfect complexity for the educational value provided. 

Play Time:  How long does the game take to play? Longer games are generally not conducive for classroom use or their range of use is restricted.


For this category, scores: 1=>120 min, 2= 90-120 min, 4=90-60 min, 5= <60 min

How the game plays

Mechanisms: Do you find the mechanisms that power the game to be engaging? Do rules make sense? Do mechanisms flow and support the play of the game (as opposed to hinder it)?

Pacing and Flow: This area seeks to evaluate the arc of the game. Does the relation to build up, execution, and pay off feel balanced? This area also asks how the game draws players in. There are some games where the pacing of a turn feels tedious and there are others where an hour flies by because we are so drawn in.  Or in other words, does the game fully develop and then not carry on too long?


Replayability:  How much will you want to continue to play the game and how much do you feel that the game experience holds up to repeated plays?


Theme/experience: How well does the theme integrate ecological or evolutionary concepts?  Do the ecological and evolutionary concepts drive the central game play?  Could the theme easily have been something else and this was tacked on after the core game was designed?


Art, graphic design, quality of the physical game: How do the art and graphic design facilitate immersion of game theme?


Education value:  How accurate and/or educational are integrated ecological and evolutionary concepts?  How does the game improve comprehension of difficult topics?

Fun Factor: The easiest to rate, most important, and most subjective category. Is the game fun?

A big thanks to Sean Johnson who inspired this rating scale.

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