Game of life

This week’s Economist has an article (behind a paywall) called Work and Play about the gamification of hiring. (No, I do not like gamification as a word, either. But when the Economist uses it, what can you do?)

The gamification here is using video games:

Happy Hour, which will be unveiled to the public on May 28th, is one of several video games developed by Knack, a start-up founded by Guy Halfteck, an Israeli entrepreneur. The games include a version of Happy Hour in which sushi replaces booze, Words of Wisdom (a word game) and Balloon Brigade (which involves putting out fires with balloons and water).

The purpose?

They are designed to test cognitive skills that employers might want, drawing on some of the latest scientific research. These range from pattern recognition to emotional intelligence, risk appetite and adaptability to changing situations.

And so, the gamification of hiring.

It’s an open question how successful this will be, and whether it’s a development of enduring substance, or a trend that will wither. For now:

Some firms seem to see the potential. The GameChanger unit of Shell, which seeks out new disruptive technologies for the oil giant, is about to test if Knack can help it identify innovators. Bain & Company, a consultancy, is to run a pilot: it will start by getting current staff to play the games, to see which skills make for a successful consultant. (The ability to charge a lot for stating the obvious is presumably not one of them.) “If someone can materially improve our ability to select the best talent, that is worth a lot to us,” says Mark Howorth, a recruiter at Bain. And if not, at least the process will be fun.

Fast forward a few years. After the gamification of hiring, are we bound to see the gamification of firing?