Date of Award

Winter 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Director

Kevin Moberly

Committee Member

Daniel Richards

Committee Member

Julia Romberger

Committee Member

Jennifer de Winter


In this project, I designed and tested Scrummage, a tabletop game to teach the scrum project management system to undergraduate students. The project grew from the gaps in both academic literature and pedagogical tools for project management and collaboration in the technical communication classroom. Although the field of technical communication places significance on project management, research shows that many employers find the project management skills and knowledge of recent graduates to be under-developed. Situated in the fields of game design, game studies, project management, and technical communication, this project asks how we as educators can improve the project management learning outcomes for technical communication graduates. After conducting research into the forms of project management, I make the argument that using a game designed using vetted game design and playtesting techniques from the field of game design could be a possible solution to this problem. I argue for term “functionally applicative games” (instead of educational, serious, or transformative games) as a way to define games designed with objectives that extend beyond the gameplay itself. I develop a series of rhetorics of functionally applicative games to guide the development and design of these types of games.

To demonstrate these rhetorics of functionally applicative game design, I developed Scrummage, a four-player cooperative game in which players work together to complete a project scenario using scrum project management. My project utilizes a dual methodological approach. The first set of methods--used for playtesting Scrummage--describe the process of crafting, designing, and revising Scrummage over a series of three playtesting sessions with undergraduate students. The second set of methods draw from instructional design testing schema and test the presumed learning outcomes of Scrummage in regards to scrum project management with a separate group of students. The results not only provide insight into development and testing a functionally applicative game, but also how the processes of introducing, teaching, and reviewing games as learning tools need a heuristic that can be utilized by educators wishing to incorporate them into the classroom.