Understand that we live and work within systems of cause and effect in which actions may have multiple origins and consequences.



Class EDTEC 670, Exploratory Learning Through Simulation and Games
Instructor Karl Richter
Project Design and Develop an Educational Board Game
Artifact “Control Freak or Risk Taker?” Board Game


Snapshot of the Control Freak or Risk Taker? game board

Gerry de Ocampo and I partnered to design and develop an educational board game on the Committee of Sponsoring Organization’s (COSO) framework of internal control. This project was an exceptional opportunity to convert a dull, corporate topic into an enjoyable learning experience.

Connection to the Standard

According to Ruth Clark, to qualify as an educational game, “a game must offer the learner a challenge to achieve a goal, respond on the basis of game rules, offer an interactive high-engagement experience, and incorporate consequences (Clark, 2008).” To accomplish this, we first established learning objectives to guide the design. We then performed a board game content analysis to categorize the COSO framework into meaningful game elements. Lastly, we established a set of rules to drive the cause and effect relationships between the game elements and player actions. The end result was a race type of game similar to the game of Life where the player with the most points at the end wins the game. As players progressed, they received or lost “internal control” points based on events they encountered. They also could collect “COSO treasures” representing components of the COSO framework in order to gain points and receive protection from events that took away points. We used real work place examples for the events that took away points to help learners meaningfully see how the COSO framework could reduce the impact of these kind of events.

Challenges & Learning Lessons

One prototype tester expressed there was insufficient reliance on strategy and decision-making in the game. To address this, players were given the option to adopt one of two strategic roles: Risk-taker or Control freak. Risk-takers rushed to finish the game before the Control Freaks outscored them by collecting only the minimum number of “COSO treasures” and hoping to avoid events that took away points. The Control freaks, on the other hand, tried to win by collecting extra “COSO treasures” to gain extra points and receive maximum protection from events that took away points.

What It Showcased About Me

I demonstrated I could incorporate learner motivational aspects into a game in order to optimize it as a system for both learning and fun. As part of the design, I consulted Keller's ARCS model and Malone & Lepper's intrinsic motivation taxonomy to confirm we had built motivational and affective aspects of instruction into our game. For example, the game rule requiring each learner to collect a minimum number of “COSO treasures” in order to win the game provided reasonably achievable "Satisfaction" for players per the ARCS model (Keller and Suzuki, 1988). It also met the “goal” aspect of Malone & Lepper's intrinsic motivation taxonomy because players would be exposed to the basics of the COSO internal control framework through the attainment of the main goal of collecting a minimum number of “COSO treasures" (Malone and Lepper, 1987).

Future Application

This project gave me a strong appreciation for the value that games add to the learner experience. Games offer a great means to create memorable learning experiences by putting the learner “safely” at risk. The opportunity to win and the possibility of losing energizes the learning experience by making the learner eager to learn the content just to increase their chances of winning. At the same time, they realize the risk of failure is limited to the game environment (Allen, 2003). The board game content analysis is something I will use the rest of my career.


Allen, M.W. (2003). Michael Allen’s Guide to e-Learning (1st ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Clark, R. (2008). Developing Technical Training (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Keller, J. M., and Suzuki, K. (1988). Use of the ARCS Motivation Model in Courseware Design. In D. H. Jonasse (Ed.), Instructional Designs for Microcomputer Courseware (pp. 401–434). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Malone, T. W. and Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. In M. J. Farr and R. E. Snow, (Eds.), Aptitude, Learning and Instruction: Cognitive and Affective Process Analyses, Vol. 3, (pp. 223-253). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.