Gaming Can Be More Than Fun

multipolyAs a child, I never got into it. As a teenager, I tried to forgo the boys who let it consume their whole day. As a spouse, I try to ban it from my living room, and as a mother you want to keep your children away from it as long as you can. Gaming. What is it about games or game mechanics that makes people across generations become addicted? What is it that captivates minds and captures our desire to win?

Gamification has received a lot of attention in the online world. Numbers don’t lie: A recent study by Gartner predicts that by 2014, more than 70 percent of global businesses will have at least one gamified application in their system. A Deloitte White Paper further predicts that gamification will be used in more than 25 percent of redesigned business processes by 2015. That said, there is no way to escape.

A quick recap: Gamification is the use of game mechanics in non-gaming fields. In other words, we give out points, badges, levels, lists, and challenges in a frame of compelling game mechanics to deliver an engaging user experience.

The idea behind gamification is simple: Through the use of games, we become competitive, our desire to win emerges, and we become more engaged in our work. As soon as we play the game, we become part of something bigger that pushes us that extra mile to achieve the next level, make our team proud or win for the greater cause. We stay an hour longer at work, schedule a few more meetings in, and are nicer to our clients. And because we’re being rewarded in the short-run, we increase our engagement and loyalty in the long run.

Looking at it from an HR standpoint, we could really gamify everything from recruiting to performance management. As for recruiting, our ultimate goal is clear: Attract and hire more qualified talent faster than our competitors and at much lower costs. Thanks to application numbers (quantity), cost-per-hire, and on-the-job performance measurement of new hires (quality) we have metrics that are able to track our gamification efforts.

Understanding what gamification can do for us, let’s level up our recruiting game by looking at some companies who have succeeded with it (and give gamification another chance).

Multipoly is a recruiting simulation by the Hungarian division of the multinational accountancy and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. Potential candidates are invited to participate in the virtual reality world of PwC as trainees, working for a year at the company (an equivalent of 12 days in the game). Each player has a different mission and plays in a team of other candidates.

The game is essentially used for selection, as they must attend trainings, join a community, negotiate with clients, and solve numerous exciting tasks — along the lines of the Monopoly we all know from our childhood days. For each accomplished task players receive points and get a step closer to get hired.

Fun game, you think? PwC argues that their number of applications has gone up and candidates it has hired through Multipoly need shorter training methods and present a much higher loyalty.

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quixeyQuixey, a Palo-Alto based tech startup, has an app to hire software developers. The Quixey Challenge is an online coding competition where nerdy tech guys and girls have to fix a bug in a 10-line algorithm in less than a minute. The prize for winning: $100 cash and the chance to work for Quixey.

Sound boring? Not for young developer talent. It has saved the company nearly $45,000 in recruiting costs and has produced four software engineers in three months. Additionally, brand awareness is receiving a push since the game exploded in discussions on tech forums and related communities. The scores are publicly shown on the website, which acts as a natural motivator boosted by pride, achievement, and sense of ownership. What’s even smarter is that Quixey makes participants log in with their personal networks, which will naturally attract a similar audience to play the game.

goarmyEven the U.S. Army has developed a game that has attracted millions of potential recruits. America’s Army attempts to simulate the experience of an Army soldier by allowing users to play out a variety of scenarios. Instead of just containing fight scenes, the game tries to educate users about the Army and the various career paths different soldiers can take. Applications and number of recruits went up, more than nine million copies were downloaded, and the effort became a public relations sensation for the Army.

While all games are fun, they have to be measured carefully in order to determine the actual success. Gamification has worked for HR in many ways — employee engagement, health programs, and performance management. Recruiting will be a tougher game to play with major challenges being attracting the right people and recruiting them so that they can transition from game to reality.

Have you had experience with gamification in recruiting? Would you be willing to play with your talent? Share your opinion. I’d love to hear it!

Mona Berberich is a Digital Marketing Manager at Better Weekdays, a Chicago-based company that has developed a platform to help HR leaders source, screen and develop talent based on job compatibility. She is a researcher and writer covering HR, career growth, talent management and leadership development. Contact her at


14 Comments on “Gaming Can Be More Than Fun

  1. Great article
    Thanks for helping track the ever increasing # of new brand games. Anyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about the value and momentum for these tools.

  2. Thanks, Mona. Very interesting.
    A couple points:

    I like the idea of gamification, but then I’m largely a behaviorist- I don’t really care why someone does something, as long as they do it. However, there may be limits to this- last night my wife and I listened to a radio talk (( a fellow named Evgeny Morozov who writes for the New Republic. He cautions against too much gamification, because he says it leads to people doing things without thinking about the root causes behind them. Nevertheless, I think that most things don’t need to be carefully considered, and in most cases doing the right thing for whatever reasons and with little/no thought is just fine by me.

    Also, there seems to be a fair amount of discussion of gamification in recruiting for applicants, but not yet much (at least that I’ve heard of) for recruiters, i.e., providing gamified incentives to maximize what we should do and minimize what we shouldn’t. These could be customized for each organization: a bloatocratic organization could gamify performing processes (data-entry, documentation, metrics, and attending meetings), and a more agile recruiting organization could emphasize putting quality butts in chairs on time and within budget….Anyone interested in developing these? I’m “game”….


    Keith “Knows When to Hold ‘Em , Knows When to Fold ‘Em” Halperin

  3. Terrific Read. Game based experiences are like flight simulators for recruiting — like realistic job previews that also measure candidates skills. There’s an upcoming conference on this: Enterprise Gamification Forum in New York in September. The website is

  4. @Keith Thanks for the comment. You’re absolutely right. There’s always a danger of tasks becoming “activities” rather than accomplishments where people actually “think” beyond their task.

    As far as you mentioned gamification for recruiters. If used rigorously for performance there is a danger of recruiters just trying to get their numbers up (shorter time-to-hire, more hires, etc.) which I think is a dangerous road in terms of the actual qualities of hire.

    @Jim Thanks for the analogy – great point!

  5. Well done. Well written & well stated Mona. I don’t think any of the “civilians” (think: job seekers) I speak with have believed a word I have said re: gamification. Thank you for this article. I’m sharing.

  6. Brilliant observations, Mona. I imagine that gamification will be a vital component of Recruitment 6.0, whenever it comes (or are we there yet?).

    … And not just with regards to tech and engineering fields, but also to every single emerging college graduate.

  7. Thanks again, Mona. You mentioned an important thing- “in terms of the actual qualities of hire.” “Quality of hire” is one of a number of “recruiting-related” things (like Social Network Recruiting/Talent Communities, Employment Branding, Retention, etc.) which have much longer time frames and less direct impact that what I believe recruiters should work on (Putting quality butts…”). I recently talked with a company which wanted the recruiters to be responsible for both short-term and long-term results- that way madness lies…
    In particular- quality of hiring is beyond the control/responsibility of recruiters- we can recommend/not recommend a given candidate, but we can neither hire them or veto their hire. Quality of hire should rest squarely on the shoulders of those who DO hire- the hiring managers. I’ve long maintained quality, quick, in-budget hires should be made deliverables like quality, quick, in-budget delivery of the manager’s part of the company’s products or services. Perhaps



  8. Gamification is in play today… A large retail company hired over 20,000 season hires with gamification delivered in refer a friend with in their talent community called the Hive. Gamification of referral programs are brilliant with the digital rewards versus payout of referrals.

    Many of the above comments are around internal gamification and for recruitment the big win is how to engage talent in gamification to leverage their networks to feed you talent. More passive, lower investment to attract talent and enhanced employment brand…

    Progressive companies will jump on early and others will just get by. Example is who is not mobile today, the facts are out and the majority still are doing nothing.

  9. @ Jim: “Progressive companies will jump on early” but SMART companies will watch the mistakes the early adopters make and learn to avoid them. You know what gamification REALLY is? It’s a fancy term for rewarding people to do stuff you didn’t previously reward them for doing.
    “to engage talent in gamification to leverage their networks to feed you talent” is a fancy way of saying:
    “we pay employee referral bonuses to non-employees”.
    If company recruiters *get credit for hires of this and other gamified types of hires, I’m all for it.

    Finally, while some of these games may be “handy” for us recruiters, others may refer more to different extremities, for as Henry IV and Sherlock Holmes said: “the game is afoot”.




    * As we should for employee referral hires.

  10. @Jim Absolutely agree with your comment!Doing my research I came across many success factors like you mentioned from the retail company.’s an early train but I would definitely jump on it…

    @Keith Thanks for the comments.I couldn’t agree with more with you. But if we end up hiring better people faster everybody will end up happier, so why not?!


  11. @ Mona- exactly. Recruiting is fundamentally “putting quality butts in chairs on-time, and within budget.” If something is found to be practical for most of us to use to do this better, faster, or cheaper- we should embrace it. If a given product, service, or recommendation relies on largely unproven and unrealistic assumptions (a largely unlimited amount of resources and/or buy-in from stakeholders) or refers to things that aren’t about our fundamental work, we should avoid them as wastes of our time.


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