Grading is an attempt to offer a statement of competence/knowledge about an individual in relation to a particular subject area. Many other statements of competence exist: personal opinion from colleagues, portfolio of work completed, success/impact in a particular field, etc. In games, competence is expressed (represented) by activities completed or levels achieved. So why not use a game model as a replacement for grading?
Last year, Sheldon replaced the traditional grading system in two of his game design classes with a system that is based on experience points (XP), which were typically used to track progress in role-playing games.
Students commenced the program as avatars at level one, which corresponded to zero XP and a grade of ‘F’. They gained XP by completing ‘quests’, ‘fighting monsters’ and ‘crafting’– in other words, giving presentations, sitting quizzes and exams, and handing in projects.