Podcast 44: Gamification and Video Games as Employment Tests

Y’all, I think the good word about video games is finally starting to get out. Not only are more people playing than ever, but the concepts that make video games so popular are starting to be co-opted in attempts at improving things like shopping, engaging in the political process, philanthropy, and the workplace. This is broadly known as “gamification” and while it’s getting more and more popular, it comes with the caveat that psychologists and other researchers are just starting to study it.

This episode’s guest expert, Dr. Richard Landers from the University of Minnesota.

We’re not always sure IF gamification works, or WHY it works when it does. What theories about human psychology can be applied to understanding why points, badges, or leaderboards might motivate people to do something? Or let’s back up even further than that and ask what the request to “Make this more like a game” even means.

What’s more, some companies are experimenting with and even selling products that turn assessments into games. How would you react if the next time you applied for a job you sat down and played a game that looked a lot like something you might use to kill a few minutes on the train or while waiting in line? Can assessments like that be trusted to do what they claim to do?

These are the kinds of questions I answer with Dr. Richard Landers, an expert researcher on gamification and game-based assessments from the University of Minnesota. We discuss some of the psychology behind why gamification does (and does not) work, as well as why it’s so difficult to do it well. We also talk about the use of actual games to assess people’s skills and abilities. Is it possible to create, for example, a game that measures people’ general mental ability?  

Show notes:

Audio credits:

  • Robot Motivation” by The Polish Ambassador, licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.
  • “Lively Lumpsucker” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

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