What is this game about?
Reducing technical debt is important. So why doesn’t everyone do it?
What happens in the game?
In this game, you’re a software development team working on a project that will last for 10 sprints. Your job is to create the highest amount of new software value by the end of the project.
Technical debt can reduce that value dramatically. Fortunately, you have choices you can make that will reduce technical debt, and depending on which measures you implement, they may let you focus more on creating new value. These measures don’t come for free, so you have to decide which of them are worth the investment.
How do I play?
During each turn, your software development team has a finite capacity to create new software value and deal with technical debt. In this game, we’ll represent that capacity with 12 dice. At the beginning of the game, you’ll have 8 dice available to create new value (NV), and 4 dice for technical debt (TD).
Each turn (representing a sprint), you’ll roll the dice for creating new value and take the total of all dice rolled. Then you’ll roll the technical debt dice and total that number. The net new value (NNV) you create each turn is the NV total minus the TD total.
You can lower the burden of technical debt during the game, but it will cost you NV dice in the short term. You have four different ways to reduce technical debt (continuous integration, test-driven development, code review, and a virtualized production environment for more realistic testing). You can invest in one at a time. Each investment in a TD-reducing measure reduces your NV dice for a few turns, then returns those dice to you when you’re done making the investment. At that point, you get the bonus capability for dealing with technical debt, and you can invest in another TD-reducing measure, if you want.
The Rules pdf walks you through all the steps needed to play the game. It’s a fairly simple game, so you might play it in less time than it will take to read the instructions.