Can Action Complexity be Used to Measure the Effectiveness of an Educational Game?


  • Precha Thavikulwat Towson University
  • Jimmy Chang The Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Bosco Wing Tong Yu The Hong Kong Polytechnic University


We distinguish between design complexity, which is an attribute of an exercise, and action complexity, which is the extent to which participants of an exercise act in a variety of ways. We propose that the action complexity of an exercise be measured by calculating the χ2 of the difference between the minimum-action and actual-action states of key decisions by the participants of the exercise. We suggest applications, and consider if action complexity might be used to measure the effectiveness of an educational game. We describe the design of our multinational business game, and find in a 235-undergraduate, one-semester administration of the game to two subpopulations that, as hypothesized, (a) the action complexity of participants’ nationality in the game corresponds with the participants’ personal performance scores at the midpoint and endpoint of the games’ duration, and (b) the same measure also corresponds with the relative personal performance scores of the two subpopulations. We conclude that action complexity may be a better measure of the effectiveness of an educational game than conventional surveys and test scores, and may also be better than the number of decisions per period, an established design complexity measure.