Heineken, Mass Effect and The Witcher: My Take on Gamified Skills Assessment


“When you’re assessing Soft Skills modelling for choice and consequence are paramount”

A lot of the work we do here at IamP focuses on the testing for, and the assessment of, Soft Skills. It’s at the core of every game environment we build for our Clients and there’s a range of good reasons why that is. I’m not here to talk about all the technical and psychological structures that go into that: If you’re looking for that sort of information I urge you to read this and then get in touch with the Author.

I’m here to persuade you why assessing soft skills is so important: Not just to us but more importantly a necessary functionality for our Clients. I also want to talk about why modelling for choice and consequence in our games is paramount when it comes to the gamification of skill assessment.

I also get to show you a few funny videos and some examples of fantastic video games so let’s get started:

IAmProgrez ID College 4

You obviously understand that soft skills are often the deciding factor when it comes to recruitment and career advancement. The choice between two candidates in a job interview, both armed with equal qualifications, often falls down to the ability of one of them to evidence a character armed with soft skills that better suit the culture of the company they want to work for.

“The Recruitment Dilemma: How to not only reveal a candidates underlying soft skills but also how they apply them”

Both will argue they’re “passionate”, “driven”, “client focused”, “skilled communicators” etc. Sit down interviews are more buzz word driven than ever before. Both candidates will have come armed with knowledge of the company and its past achievement (or at least I hope they both did). Both will strive to show just exactly (probably using the same variation of each other’s words) why they are perfect for the job.

I’ll let Heineken not only explain the problem but also reveal their rather unique solution to the dilemma:

It’s amazing what people reveal when shocked out of normality. As you saw recruiters today face a veritable flood of well prepared candidates armed with buzzwords and snappy catchphrases. Not every business can afford however to solve this problem the way Heineken did (Or give that lucky candidate the same awesome feeling of achievement Mr Luchting felt on that football pitch).

Game Time

It’s why we model scenarios with choice and consequences in our projects. I can’t reveal the technical structure of how we do it, nor the psychological methodology behind it, but I can tell you about it and showcase examples that reveal what it’s like. To understand what I mean let’s first take a look at a rather hilarious video that showcases 6 Hard Decisions in very popular video games that had a direct (and of-times negative) consequences for players depending on the choice they made.

The Mass effect series (and pretty much all BioWare games) have always made choice and consequence a centerpiece for the game series. As the video revealed one decision means the loss of a central character. More importantly the Mass Effect series focused on long term consequences. Choices made in the first and second games culminated in varying ways in the final Mass Effect 3. We’re talking about relationships ruined, characters dead or entire species going extinct.

KroganKrogan Insight from Mass Effect 3

For a more mature, Adult focused approach you need only look at the amazing The Witcher series by CD Project Red. This is a dark and gritty game series, replete with violence, sex and brutal decision making. All too often it didn’t matter what choice you made (‘good’ or ‘bad’) people got hurt, villages ended up destroyed or pogroms on magic users. Like Mass Effect the choices made in one game carried onto the next.

the_witcher_3_wild_huntChoices,Choices in The Witcher 3

Most important however was the romantic choices made in the game between the protagonist and the two women in his life. To see how complex and deep CD Project Red modeled this I highly recommend watching Extra Credits’ video ‘Romantic Dilemmas – How Witcher 3 Build Character through Choice”

Back to Reality

Like these games our narrative driven projects focus (amongst many other variables) on the short and long term consequences of making choices. Players in the environment (office, home, Trade Event etc) face tasks and challenges that have direct and indirect consequences as they progress. Choices made and conversations held in our game environment will result in a wide range of end results depending on each candidate-player choice. Throughout the game our ACCO backed model constantly analyzes the choices made and, through the magic of our algorithms and data gathered, we can accurately map out a candidates soft skill capabilities and give our client a rich and insightful breakdown of each candidate.

This is important for all the reasons you’ve seen evidenced from Heineken to The Witcher. Soft Skills, and the choices people make in using them, are vital to how someone gels in a Business’s Corporate Culture. Personal Character, Mind Set and Personality are becoming more vital to hiring decisions for many companies than a candidates technical skill set.

I’m not arguing having the right hard skills isn’t important. The point is your soft skills are becoming increasingly the deciding factor in employment. Almost always the choice made between 2 candidates falls to the one who has slightly less technical expertise but a personality and soft skill repertoire aligned with the corporate culture.

“The Gamification of Skill Assessment has made a relic of the Sit Down Interview”

We have had some great results in our work. We published some time ago how we helped ID college to ensure their students were making the right IT study choices. We recently learnt that nearly all our game based predictions for each student came true. Those we identified as not being in the right course changed streams. Those we pointed out should shift to a different focus in the IT studies did exactly that.

This is not a singular achievement for us but a lot of our projects are ongoing and I can’t reveal anything (just yet!). I hope you’ve come to understand why modelling for consequence and choice in soft skills is important not just to us but for every business when it comes to hiring candidates. For IamP the desire to do so aligns with our stated goal of breaking down barriers to employment. After all some candidates have trouble communicating who they are. I’ll be looking particular at Mental Health candidates next week but for now Gamified test environments serve as a powerful way to reveal the ‘truth’ of a candidate.

For us Gamified Skill Assessment is the future of recruitment in its ability to accurately assess Hard and Soft skills. In particular it’s low cost and ease of deployment and accessibility means exciting things for the global IT sector that’s currently facing skills shortages across the board. It also means a chance for people who, unable to afford or incapable of using standard testing and recruitment methods, the opportunity to showcase what they can bring to the world.


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