When I was a small child, I used to sit bleary eyed, peering over my older brother’s shoulder as he played video games on an old Spectrum computer. There was a fascination there, even with the blurry vague details of the pixelated characters, with the narrative of the game, the goals, the feedback and the many choices you had as a player.

As I’ve gotten older (not that old!) I’ve come to realise that games provide more than just the opportunity to have fun or to relax. There is a lot of scientific rigour that goes into game development these days. Even back then, regardless of the content (everything from Manic Miner, R-Type to Sim City) many of the games I used to engage in as child had;

  • A clear goal,
  • Feedback to the player in terms of points,
  • The requirement to solve problems or puzzles,
  • Freedom of play (i.e. the player had many choices to make, and it wasn’t always about getting the ‘right’ answer).

Some of these aspects, what experts call ‘game mechanics’, can not only contribute to our experience but also let us show our differing abilities and approaches to situations in the real world. “Game mechanics are methods invoked by agents designed for interaction with the game state, thus providing gameplay” (Sicart, 2018). The great thing about these game mechanics is that they make games attractive to us, enhancing the experience and providing a sense of what Csikszentmihalyi termed ‘flow’. Flow is a psychological state that helps us to realise our potential, and be fully engaged in what we do.

Although video games sometimes get a bad rep (e.g. the proposed link between violent games and expressions of violence, which is hotly debated), there are also benefits to games and using games in a variety of settings.

Interestingly, studies have recently found that some games are strongly related to human attributes, such as General Mental Ability (Cognitive Ability) and Personality. For example, one study conducted by Delhove and Greitemeyer in 2018, found that your choice of video game character was significantly related to your own innate personality. There is also some research to suggest that gameplay can enhance executive functioning such as spatial reasoning and even reading deficits (Franceschini and colleagues, 2013). Surgeons have even been able to enhance their clinical skills through the use of games that relate to the fundamental requirements of the role (Rosser and colleagues, 2007).

Research from Bond University has found that 42% of over 65’s play video games of some form, and two thirds of Australians engage with games. It seems clear that games have the potential to reach a very wide audience.

Since starting with Revelian I realised that there is a real passion and commitment to some of the fundamental attributes of games. The Research & Development Team are determined to make assessments that both engage the candidate and provide rich insight into the candidate’s approach and behaviours. Games that engage provide individuals with motivation to give it their best go, and to experience a positive challenge that can also be rewarding.

Indeed, looking around at experts in game-based technologies it’s clear that there is usefulness in taking a game approach to areas such as learning, selection, and solving other real-world problems. For example, Professor Richard Landers suggests that an added benefit of game-based assessment is that candidates often see the method used as fairer and more representative of their attributes or abilities.

At Revelian we’ve begun to see some of these benefits emerge, with the likes of our game-based assessments, Cognify and our newly launched Emotify. Industry and professional associations are beginning to take notice, and Cognify has won a few awards such as the APS Workplace Excellence Award, and winner of the 2016 Australasian Serious Games Showcase.

Although a game-based approach can provide a lot of benefits, a word of caution – there are a plethora of game-based and gamified assessments out there, so the recommendation by experts is to choose one wisely, whatever your needs.

An assessment that is reliable, valid (both face valid and construct valid), and engaging is the golden ticket to success. It has to feel like it’s assessing what it’s assessing (face validity), and preferably it needs to relate directly to what you want to see in your future employees, such as the relationship between Cognitive Ability and future job performance, or Emotional Intelligence’s relationship with teamwork or effective leadership.

Games and game-based assessment provide an opportunity for individuals to connect with technology in a positive way, show their abilities and even reach individuals from a variety of backgrounds. Even a small kid from a little town in Scotland can agree with that.

References

Anderson, Ashley F., Daphne Bavelier, and C. Shawn Green. 2010. “Speed-Accuracy Tradeoffs in Cognitive Tasks in Action Game Players.” Journal of Vision 10: 748

Delhove, Martin & Greitemeyer, Tobias. (2018). The Relationship Between Video Game Character Preferences and Aggressive and Prosocial Personality Traits. Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 10.1037/ppm0000211.

Franceschini, Sandro, Simone Gori, Milena Ruffino, Simona Viola, Massimo Molteni, and Andrea Facoetti. 2013. “Action Video Games Make Dyslexic Children Read Better.” Current Biology 23:462–66.

Armstrong, M. B., Landers, R. N., & Collmus, A. B. (2016). Gamifying recruitment, selection, training, and performance management: Game-thinking in human resource management. In Emerging research and trends in gamification(pp. 140-165). IGI Global.

Rosser, James C. Jr., Paul J. Lynch, Laurie Cuddihy, Dougls A. Gentile, Jonathan Klonsky, and Ronald Merrell. 2007. “The Impact of Video Games on Training Surgeons in the 21st Century.” Archives of Surgery 142:181–86.

Sicart, Miguel (1 December 2008). “Defining Game Mechanics”. Game Studies. 8 (2). ISSN 1604-7982. Retrieved 22 June 2016.

Walker, Alex (22 July 2019). “Two-Thirds of Australians Play Video Games, But We’re Playing Less Every Day”. Kotaku. https://www.kotaku.com.au/2019/07/video-games-australia-demographic-average-age-male-female/.

About author

Revelian Craig Gillies

Craig Gillies | Consulting Psychologist

Craig Gillies is a registered psychologist and he joined Revelian whilst completing a Masters of Organisational Psychology at Griffith University.

During his time at Revelian, Craig has been involved in a number of internal and external projects including an engagement survey, employee training, psychometric assessment, client and candidate support, and the construction and validation of a game-based assessment. Craig has also had experience in a variety of roles, including external consultancy (in government and corporate settings), smoking cessation counseling, and research work. His research interests include the role of positive psychology in the workplace (and in life in general), engagement and resilience at work. Craig is also passionate about employee/candidate wellbeing and is an advocate of Motivational Interviewing as a method of facilitating behaviour change.

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