For Gen Xers, the idea of getting paid to play video games seemed like a dream; for Millennials, a career in game development or design is a very real possibility. But games as part of the workplace? Not so much, right?
Not long ago, a friend of mine confided that she felt distinctly uncomfortable when her boss advised her to play Candy Crush during a lull in work. It wasn’t that long ago that you clicked down solitaire when your boss came into the room, so how is it that video games are poised to change the way we work?
The answer is called gamification.
What Is Gamification, and Why Should I Care?
Simply put, gamification is the technique of using the concepts of video game play in real life. It’s a sort of digital carrot. Players indulging in a round or two of their favorite game are spurred on to complete levels, unlock new games, win special power-ups, and generally get their name in fake glowing lights on the leaderboard.
How does this apply to businesses? All of these reward-seeking behaviors can be used to drive performance in the real world. Some companies are already using game-style points systems and peer-awarded merit badges to motivate workers; others are using them to attract and keep customers. Think of the levels that top commenters gain on forums or the reward points you get from brand loyalty cards.
Given that this technique involves tracking people’s contributions and potentially modifying their behavior, gamification does have its detractors. Concerns about how much of users’ information is being tracked and stored, as well as how much security people are giving up, are already being raised.
Cool (Weird?) Ways Gamification Can Be Used In Hiring and Training
Whether gamification is cool or weird depends on your outlook. It is already being promoted for use as a way of weeding out job applicants based not on their resumes, their intrapersonal skills, or their appearances—but on how they handle playing a game. And this is just one way gamification has started to change the hiring process.
Currently, Marriott uses a Facebook game to simulate managing a busy hotel kitchen. Not only does this game get their brand name noticed, it also could be used to develop interest in a career as a hotel manager. Games like Diner Dash and Build-a-Lot specifically tap into time management and prioritization skills. Employers could use a similar, albeit customized, version of these games to measure aptitude for jobs that require dealing with a time crunch. By tracking an applicant’s or an employee’s methods of playing the game, including how long he or she takes to make a decision and how particular tasks are completed, the idea is that HR people could gain insight into a person’s behavior and personality that would have a direct bearing on job performance.
For most businesses—large and small—gamification in hiring can be filed away in the “Future Events” folder. Hiring can be a complex process, and there’s no sure-fire shortcut to determining job performance. Would you use games to help weed out qualified applicants from the unqualified? Could you see yourself using levels, merit badges, and reward points to motivate employees?