A Systematic Survey of Games Used for Software Engineering Education

  •  Craig Caulfield    
  •  Jianhong Xia    
  •  David Veal    
  •  Stanislaw Maj    


Simsoft is a serious game— one that trains or educates— at the centre of a research project designed to see if and how games can contribute to better software engineering management education by helping software engineers and project managers explore some of the dynamic complexities of the field in a safe and inexpensive environment. A necessary precursor for this project was to establish what games already existed in the field and how effective they had been. To this end a systematic review of the literature was conducted using a collection of online science, engineering, education, and business databases looking for games or simulations used for educational or training purposes in software engineering or software project management across any of the SWEBOK knowledge areas. The initial search returned 243 results, which was filtered to 36 papers by applying some simple quality and relevance inclusion/exclusion criteria. These remaining papers were then analysed in more depth to see if and how they promoted education in the field of software engineering management. The results showed that games were mainly used in the SWEBOK knowledge areas of software engineering management and development processes, and most game activity was in Europe and the Americas. The results also showed that most games in the field have learning objectives pitched at the first rung of Bloom’s taxonomy (knowledge), most studies followed a non-experimental design, and many had very small sample sizes. This suggests that more rigorous research is needed into the efficacy of games in teaching software engineering management, but enough evidence exists to say that educators could include serious games in their courses as a useful and interesting supplement to other teaching methods.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.