Instructional Games for Software Testers


The educational world has now recognised that we learn best when we are relaxed, enjoying ourselves, and have the freedom to experiment and learn through making mistakes.


This workshop engages the participants in playing, developing and understanding how instructional games will help them, as testers, test leads and test managers, to better comprehend the power of communication, and improve their communication skills.

Test Concept Charades

The first game we will play is ‘Test Concept Charades. This is where we have to explain common testing concepts without using some key words. Sounds simple until you try to explain complex technical concepts in plain language.

Throw in a little competition between teams and this quickly becomes quite fun 🙂

Ten Hundred Words

upgoerfiveThe second game, the ‘Ten Hundred Words‘ game, is based on the #upgoerfive concept explained at

We use this concept to describe complex technical stuff, although software testing isn’t quite rocket science, by only using words on the Ten Hundred most common words list – by the way thousand is not on the list. This helps us to communicate testing and test concepts effectively, whilst not confusing our audience with technical double-speak (or jargon).

After playing each game the delegates will work on developing the game and creating their own ‘specific’ variant suited to their organisational situation. We will then examine when it is appropriate to use the games, and what the desired outcomes are.

Both games combine to help us learn new and enhanced ways to communicate more effectively with others, and especially with those who may not have the same level of technical understanding that we do.

Afterwards & Takeaways

Back in the office attendees are able to develop and use the games with their colleagues to demonstrate the learning points from the workshop. They will also be able to test their own versions developed in the session and be left with a deeper insight into how to communicate with non-technical people.


PowerPoint Show     Powerpoint Show (2.3mb)

Presented at:

1. Test Management Summit, London. Apr 2016.
2. EuroSTAR 2016, Stockholm, Nov 2016.


  1. Up Goer Five
    The original Up Goer Five concept by Randall Munroe.
  2. Saturn 5 Rocket described in Up Goer Five
    Well worth a visit just to marvel at the ingenuity 🙂
  3. The Up Goer Five text editor
    Give it a go yourself?
  4. The Ten Hundred Words List