The XP Values Game

A Group Exercise to Learn XP Values

Joseph Bergin


In eXtreme Programming (XP) there are four core values: Communication, Feedback, Simplicity, and Courage. If an organization does not share these values then XP may not work as a development methodology. This simple game is intended to reward behavior exhibiting these values.

Materials Needed


The goal of the exercise is for each team to cooperatively draw a representation of the picture it is given (or has chosen) with the fewest number of line strokes. The representation is drawn on a transparency that can be overlaid on the original picture. Lines once drawn can be erased. The instructor will give a target goal of the number of lines the picture is worth at the beginning of play. Each participant will gain one point for each stroke less than the target goal number. If the target is 20 and the number of strokes is 16 each participant will gain four points.


  1. Each participant keeps his or her own score privately
  2. A stroke can be a straight line or have a single bend or arch. If it starts to turn to the left it may not later turn to the right. By this rule a circle is a single stroke, but an S shape requires two strokes.
  3. Strokes are made by individuals. The person currently drawing is the Artist. You get a point for each stroke you make AND one for each stroke you erase. (Courage)
  4. You get a point each time you accept the pens/drawing from the current Artist and again when you give it up. However, you should make or erase one stroke at least upon becoming the current Artist (Courage)
  5. If you are not the current Artist, you get a point for each bit of advice you give the current Artist and for each bit you retract (Communication)
  6. The current Artist gets a point for each bit of advice solicited and another for each accepted (Feedback)
  7. Everyone gets a Simplicity score as described in the Goal section. However the original picture must be recognizable. If there are several teams, they can serve as judges for each other, or the instructor may need to decide.


In the debrief the instructor asks each participant if they are satisfied with their own score (without necessarily revealing it) and what they might have done to increase it. Discuss the effect these values would have on organizations if they are absent. Discuss the effect if they are pervasive.


This is intended as a cooperative game, not a competitive one, so the scores are kept private.

Last updated: August 30, 2003