CIRCA:Assessment Framework


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(Tentative) Assessment Framework Questions

Game Design Taxonomyis a list of terms that various people have coined for analyzing and classifying games.

While this document is being composed, the compact list of questions (also under construction) to ask when starting group research projects with a practical game design component can be found on its own page.

Use these question categories in the process of answering your own questions relevant to a specific project. Fill in category sub-questions as best you can, add your own or skip questions as needed.

Affiliations (Stakeholders)

  • Who are the existing stakeholders?
    • administrative
    • ethical / legal
    • research
    • audience / customer
    • others
  • Who are the legacy stakeholders?
    • sponsors
    • returning group members
    • community partners
    • audience demographics
    • notion of a corporate "brand" with feedback mechanisms about its reputation
  • Who are new stakeholders, or what are recent changes in makeup/orientation/capacity?
  • Who are potential stakeholders?
    • Is there a market or test group available, already existing or in demand?
      • What are potential inclusion or exclusion factors (Does working with these stakeholders require REB ethics clearance?)
  • Where can more information be found about a particular stakeholder, how can this information be used?
  • How will you rank or sort stakeholders?
  • Which stakeholders will own the work when the project is done?


  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • What are the minimum requirements of success?
  • What are the stakeholder groups' main goals?
    • What is each stakeholder group getting out of the project?
  • What ought to be the shared ambition of this project?
  • What are the stakeholders' responsibilities to the group?
  • To what extent is the project contract to be formalized or kept informal?


  • What are the deliverables?
    • What are our deliverables' timelines
  • What is the budget?
    • Who is responsible for all aspects of the budget?
  • What skills and technology do group members already have?
  • What technology or tools are required to build, maintain, and play the game?
  • What is the project timeline?
  • What amenities does the group have access to (e.g. a campus for testing)?
  • What is the length of time it would take to build and run the game?
    • Is there a deadline? Or can this project be delayed?
  • Is there a method for tracking progress regularly to ensure meeting deadlines?
  • Is there previous or comparable work, either ours or another group’s, in this area?
    • How does our work compare to other work?
  • How long should the project be able to last?
  • Is there a buffer for potential changes?
    • Time
    • Tools
    • Group
    • Tools
    • Partnerships
    • Capital
    • Ethical conditions
    • Demands from stakeholders
    • Other
  • Are any outside stakeholders responsible for providing content/information/materials/funding/etc.?
  • Are we using outside intellectual property?
    • Who does it belong to?
      • What sort of license does it use?
  • Who is responsible for maintaining the project?


  • Does the game work?
    • What doesn't work?
      • Is the problem technical, conceptual, or both?
  • Are there ways to improve the game or the platform based on the results of this attempt?
  • Should the game be more intuitive or instructional?
    • How quickly will the target audience be able to learn the game?
  • If the project is repeatable, will we learn new things or benefit from running the game again?
  • How will we conclude this project (what will the end-state look like?)


  • What feedback are we testing for?
  • Who did the game work for (or not work for)?
    • How did the stakeholders react to the game?
  • Who and how do we want to give or receive feedback? (I think this needs to be broken down into several questions - SL)
    • How will we present findings to our stakeholders?
    • Who will we solicit feedback from?
      • What type of feedback is required? (qualitative? quantitative? game metrics?)
  • What would be the most efficient method - time and resource wise - of gathering assessment data?
  • Do the chosen assessment techniques require ethics clearance?
    • Do we need new ethics or can this fall under a previous project?
  • What tools will give us the most useful data?
  • What questions should the assessment tools pose?
    • Should there be multiple feedback tools available?
  • What is the criteria for acquiring and updating information about stakeholders?
  • How well does this project address the topic of '_____'?
  • Does the game provide anything different or better from other resources/games?

(I think this section needs to be much more detailed since this was the original focus of the framework - the assessment process) - SL

Misc. categories (fun, education, technology, etc...)

  • What are measurable variables that can be defined as '____'?
    • Can this game teach something that can be gained through other resources in a way that the targeted audience finds preferable? ( I think this is outside of the scope of our group, we are not really studying how best to teach a topic or curriculum, we are studying games.)
  • Do we need to advertise?
  • How will we launch the game and attract players?
    • Do we have a captive player group or is the game released in the wild?
  • Can we tweak the game during deployment? Is this a part of the plan?

Other things to put in

I've tried incorporating these parts into the framework as much as possible. They've mainly been incorporated into the resources sections-DG

  • Intellectual Property: What sort of license does it use? Who owns the work? Who published it? What is the intellectual property?
  • Time and Money: How long did it take to make? How much did it cost to develop? What sort of organization developed it?
  • Comparison and Competition: What other games are similar? Who is the competition? How does it compare to other games?

Other Frameworks

online course

University of Pennsylvania offers a complete online course on gamification. It is supposedly 4-8 hours a week for it looks like 5-6 weeks. About halfway into the course the topic is "Gamification Design Framework."

online course

Stanford' offers this courseon design for human-computer interaction.


  • Walker, Mark. Games that Sell(I have this one out right now)--SimeonBlimke 07:57, 4 November 2012 (UTC)


Walker is a journalist, and borrows the term (hot)topic from the journalistic discipline to describe games the gaming public are likely to invest in at a given point in history -- some topics are just hotter than others. This is a way of saying that you need to do broader social analysis, not just formal game design analysis, to understand what compels people to play. See also Montfort and Bogost who in Racing the Beam take a similar approach to diagnose the rise of the Atari console and subsequent video game crash of 1983.

Methods used to analyze games:

  • Specific case-studies of games that sold (or should have sold but did not).
  • Industry professionals are interviewed, asked why they think games sell.
  • Survey of players - rather than using these to compile stats he publishes the complete responses of several individual respondents


  • Topic (franchise reputation, genres, fads)

"During the real-time strategy craze of the late 90's, publishers could just about guarantee that a solid real-time strategy game would sell 100,000 units. On the other hand, a turn-based strategy game needed to be marketed, promoted, and designed to perfection to crest that magical 100,000 unit mark" (p.2).

  • Quality (e.g. game is not glitchy, tutorials are well written, appears worth $49)
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Range of appeal (this doesn't rule out niche games, they are just exceptional and it's hard to predict when a niche will be popular enough to be viable. What's important is making a game accessible to a wide enough audience ... it could also mean combining popular genres in a way that is inviting to more than one segment of the market)
  • Cool factor (intangible features that attract players' interest such as a unique game mechanic or a story with a special emotional appeal)


  • Aldrich, Clark. Learning by doing : a comprehensive guide to simulations, computer games, and pedagogy in e-learning and other educational experiences

Book jacket review/blurb: "Designed for learning professionals and drawing on both game creators and instructional designers, Learning by Doing explains how to select, research, build, sell, deploy, and measure the right type of educational simulation for the right situation. It covers simple approaches that use basic or no technology through projects on the scale of computer games and flight simulators."

Framework: (I haven't had a chance to borrow this one yet to check quality)--SimeonBlimke 07:36, 4 November 2012 (UTC)


Sketching user experiences : getting the design right and the right design


Rollings, Andrew. Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on game design--SimeonBlimke 08:11, 4 November 2012 (UTC)(U of A has electronic access!)


Rogers, Scott Level up! : the guide to great video game design--SimeonBlimke 08:11, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

U of A has electronic access! This is a complete book on game design in a readable style, I've paged through it so far and it looks good.


Feiler, Jessie. Get rich with apps

I paged through this book by chance and it actually has some thoughtfully worded advice despite the sensational title. It might be worth going back to.

Framework (bits)

  • Use apps - push their capabilities and try new things - consider what's missing. Learn to watch yourself playing.
  • observe other people (watch for when they make mistakes due to the interface, note when they smile with satisfaction)
  • be selective, keep the constraints of a small viewport in mind.
  • As the tendency when everyone has a little bit of say is a product bloated with features, design committees should try to focus on what to remove.

The contents are fairly specific to strategically assessing and exploiting current platforms like facebook or mobile games.


Game analysis: Developing a methodological toolkit for the qualitative study of gamesby Mia Consalvo and Nathan Dutton.

Framework (tools)

  • object inventory
  • interface study
  • interaction map
  • gameplay log

External Links

has a long list of items - have a feeling that these are at different levels of importance so we should read through and sort.

Bits of advice that could be part of a framework content

  • flow in games (This is an awesome paper but please describe how it fits in with the design framework. I'm not sure why this is here)
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