Simple TDD Game

Simple game to show the benefits of TDD to anyone, technical or not.

You’ll need the following.

  • Paper (any size)
  • Ruler

We play 2, 1 minute rounds, the first of which is as follows.

Round 1 – Test After Development (TAD) simulation.

Get people to work as a pair. In this round, have the first person responsible for creating a fold in the paper at an arbitrary distance from the edge. You could be specific (e.g. 17.5 cm) or vague eg. (75%). All that first person has to do is create the fold where they think that point is.

The second person then measures the placement of the fold. If it’s right hurrah! However if it’s not exact, then the paper is given back to the first person to re fold. At NO time can the first person utilise the ruler, this is only to be used by the second person.

Once they ‘team’ get the fold right, the unit of work can be counted as complete.

At the beginning of the round, have the team estimate how many accurately folded pieces of paper they can produce in the 1 minute iteration.

Round 2 – Test Driven Development (TDD) simulation

Allow the folder to utilise the ruler, the ruler in this instance simulates the ‘test’ by having the folder use this the fold should be right first time

At the beginning of the round, have the team estimate how many accurately folded pieces of paper they can produce in the 1 minute iteration.

Finish, review the scores, insights and relax.

This hopefully demonstrates some simple principles around using TDD to get software right first time & cross skilled teams versus siloed members. It’s still in prototype phase (and always will be) so i’d welcome any feedback, alterations or variations to the game.


Suggested Additions

Chris Jones over at GuerillaXP suggested adding a step after round one to spend time correcting all the units that didn’t pass verification. Seems like a great way to illustrate the cost involved with having to fix all those problems.


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4 Responses to “Simple TDD Game”

  1. Chris June 22, 2015 at 10:17 #

    I used this last week with great results. I ran a slight variation by introducing an extra round at the beginning:

    Round 1 – No testing is performed during the 1 minute round. Instead, one person just produced as many folded papers as possible, and we measured afterwards (with predictably bad results). Alarmingly, this is a simulation of behaviour that I’ve seen all too often in the workplace.
    Round 2 – Same rules as described under ‘Round 1’ in the article, but it was up to each team to decide whether they wanted to start the next piece of paper before the previous one had passed the test.
    Round 3 – Same rules as described under ‘Round 2’ in the article.

    When measuring the output of each team after each round, we penalised each team one point for each failing or incomplete piece of paper.

    The average results (across 8 teams in total) were as follows:
    Round 1: -7
    Round 2: 0.5
    Round 3: 7

    Afterwards we had a good chat about what we learned, and about which round most closely resembled our current way of working. We then agreed on a raft of changes which effectively means moving to an Acceptance Test Driven approach. This was exactly the conclusion I was hoping that the team would arrive at, so the game worked perfectly to demonstrate my point!

    • Scrimmers June 22, 2015 at 10:21 #

      Hi Chris

      That’s fantastic, glad it worked well for you and I love the embellishment.

  2. Mark Suurmond August 17, 2012 at 09:41 #

    Maybe you can add a round before round 1 (call it round 0? 🙂 )in which you simulate the two people not sitting together in one team and having individual KPI’s.
    – no talking
    – Sit at different tables in the room
    – The folder should fold as many as possible
    – The tester should test as many as possible

  3. Chris March 13, 2012 at 10:53 #

    Genius. Absolutely brilliant! Can’t wait to try this on an unsuspecting TDD sceptic 🙂

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