Unpacking student perceptions of board game mechanics





Game-based learning, gamification, board games, serious games, management education, game mechanics


The boardroom challenge is a custom developed board game used as a formative assessment in an undergraduate business management course. The course forms part of an Accountancy degree which culminates in the professional designation of members to the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA). Students are required to develop skills and competencies towards future membership of their professions professional body. To this end an industry employer and training company partnered with the University to develop students’ business acumen utilizing gamified learning in the form of a custom developed board game. The boardroom challenge has taken place annually from 2015-2019 and commenced again in 2022 when Covid-19 regulations permitted. On game day students compete in randomly assigned groups of six with an industry game master at each table as a facilitator. Students and facilitators complete questionnaires after the boardroom challenge providing feedback and suggestions. Open ended feedback from 2015-2019 has been thematically analysed to evaluate perceptions on game mechanics. Game mechanics include rolling the dice to determine which scenario students need to address. During the game students have to answer theory questions or address scenarios, depending on what the dice causes their game piece to land on. Correct answers earn currency in the game and students display their new rank in the organisation with each correct answer. Moving up the salary scale tops out at CEO after which students can begin to earn shares. Turn taking is regulated by a timer, to ensure everyone has sufficient turns while industry based game masters make the final call on the appropriateness of answers to open ended scenario type questions. The board game generates great excitement and engagement from students with several preparatory activities scaffolded into tutorials before game day. Students’ perception of the various game elements and mechanics indicate their evaluation is dependent on how they have conceptualized the impact of specific mechanics on their marks. As a mitigating factor, the data was gathered and analysed over many years.