Within the assessment ecosystem, game-based assessments have become one of the most controversial developments in the past ten years. The invention of such aptitude assessments has received great media attention and captured the interest of many companies and businesses.
In a survey conducted by Cut-e Group in 2017, 75% of HR and talent hunters indicated that they would consider using game-based assessments as part of their screening and selection strategy.
So, what exactly are game-based assessments? In this article, we'll be learning all the necessary information about this specific term.
Game-based assessments are games that allow employers to measure candidates' knowledge, skills, values, personality, motivation, and competencies. The term falls under a broader category of “serious games" - “games that do not have entertainment, enjoyment, or fun as their primary purpose”.
Williams - An expert in people assessment for recruitment and development has put down 4 common approaches to game-based assessments as follows
- The use of pre-existing video games that are not specifically designed for assessment to extract or measure relevant criteria.
- The creation of games specifically designed for assessing purposes (both custom and ready-to-use).
- The adaptation of “traditional” assessments (i.e implementing gaming factors/design elements into existing assessments).
- The deployment of VR technology to promote “game-like" assessment experiences.
Game-based assessment vs. Gamification
Despite being used interchangeably, these two terms are different. Gamification is broadly described as “the application of game mechanics, elements, and features to non-game environments”. Some examples of gamification include badges, leaderboards, feedback, points, and prizes.
The main difference between these two concepts lies in the purpose of use. While game-based assessments are entitled to the assessing purpose, gamification focuses on the implementation of gaming elements to engage people.
Game-based assessment vs. Digital interactive assessment
Another term that is often mistaken for offering the same meaning as “game-based assessment" is digital interactive assessment.
Digital assessments are traditional psychometric tests that have been made interactive and available via digital access. You still have to work with the same kind of test content, but in a different format. Instead of circling the answer on paper, you now take the test on a digital platform. You can click or move the answer to indicate the answer choice.
These do not measure behaviors, but rather provide a better test-taking experience compared to traditional test-taking methods.
There are two common types of game-based assessments including
- A group of single games with each game assessing a specific skill (i.e 12 games in Pymetrics)
- Scenario-based games (i.e McKinsey Solve) that measure a set of skills by putting candidates in various contexts (i.e survival mode, business situation, etc.)
Single game-based assessments
Single game-based assessments are parameters for individual competencies (i.e) numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning, etc. or certain skills (i.e decision-making, risk-taking, etc.). Typically, you may be asked to complete a set of game-based assessments with each being an assessing piece of a bigger and more well-rounded evaluation.
These games may not ask you questions relating directly to what is being evaluated, but rather provide you with general instructions for playing the game. They adopt certain game tactics to measure your abilities and competencies.
Take the Pymetrics Balloon Game as an example. In this game, you will be given a balloon and with each balloon pump, you are awarded a certain amount of money.
However, the balloon is set to explode at a random point during this pumping process. You can either collect all the money at any time or keep pumping to earn more. Yet, you will lose all your hard earned money once the balloon pops. Based on the amount of money you receive or the number of pumping times, this game will help evaluate your risk tolerance and decision-making abilities.
Another example is Gridlock designed by Revelian. This is a part of the Revelian Cognify Test which assess problem-solving skills, numerical reasoning ability, and verbal knowledge. In this Gridlock game, you will be asked to solve a sequence of spatial puzzles at a fast pace by fitting Tetris-like shapes into a 3x3 grid. By using this game, hiring managers can have a better assessment of candidates' problem-solving skills.
Employers can learn a lot from the game-playing process of candidates. For candidates, these games vary significantly, and therefore, it's impossible to learn a single correct way to tackle every game.
Some employers that are currently adopting single game-based assessments in their recruiting procedures include PWC, Deloitte, Citi, KPMG, and e-on.
Scenario-based games help employers measure a set of skills by putting job applicants in specific contexts. Several variations of scenario-based games include problem-solving games, job-simulation game-based assessments, behavioral assessments, etc.
Take the famous McKinsey Solve as an example of scenario-based problem-solving games. With each mini-game within Solve, candidates will be given a specific problem and have to work out the solution. Both the final result and the process (including clicks and mouse movements) will be taken into account. The game will evaluate candidates on 5 different dimensions: Critical thinking, Decision-making, Meta-cognition, Situational awareness, and Systems thinking.
Another example is the job simulation task designed by the Talent games. This game is built around hypothetical scenarios of real situations encountered in the workplace, and candidates will have to present their responses to those scenarios. Once candidates finish this assessment, results are mapped against a set of competencies chosen by each employer. The final report helps reveal whether candidates align with the values and behaviors of a particular company. Coca-Cola is one of the companies using such a job simulation task in their hiring process.
The most popular test providers within this testing area include Arctic Shores, Pymetrics, Test Partnership, Aon, and Revelian.
Arctic Shores' game-based assessment measures a variety of behavioral and cognitive traits. These traits are grouped into five pillars of the OCEAN model of personality which include
- Openness to experience
They also provide game-based assessments for measuring candidates' cognition - a part of a larger picture in determining how candidates will perform at work. Well-known companies and businesses adopted Arctic Shores' game-based assessment in their hiring process including PwC, KPMG, HSBC, Coca-Cola, Siemens, etc.
Pymetrics is a famous game-based assessment provider with its 12 games (balloon game, keypress game, digits memory game, arrows game, lengths game, cards game, tower game, money exchange game 1, money exchange game 2, hard or easy task guide, stop game and faces game). These core games evaluate 9 soft skills.
- Risk Tolerance
- Decision Making
Test Partnership has a series of game-based assessments called MindmetriQ. There is a total of six games with each lasting from 4 to 7 minutes and measuring certain aspects of your cognitive ability.
- Pipe Puzzle: You have to swap the tiles until the two pipe ends are connected. The time countdown will be shown on the right of your devices. Upon finishing the game within the time allowance, you will see a little animation of a blue dot racing to its destination.
Source: Test Partnership
- Shape Spinner: This is one of the trickiest minigames in the set. You will be presented with different pairs of shapes. While the shapes on the outside remain fixed, the shapes on the inside can be rotated. You have to match each shape based on a set of rules, either shape or shade match, yet never both. To indicate your answer, you can use your mouse or arrow keys to rotate to the inner circle and match the shapes.
Source: Test Partnership
- Word Logic: This game is technically known as a logical syllogism. There are 5 options for you to pick the correct answer. In addition, you have three opportunities to increase your time limit for each question by 15 seconds.
Source: Test Partnership
- Link Swipe: There are different pairs of words appearing on the screen. As you play the game, you have to swipe left, right, or down to indicate whether these words are synonyms or antonyms of each other, or completely irrelevant.
Source: Test Partnership
- Net the Numbers: When in the game, you have to drag a grey net across a grid of numbers. All numbers that are within this net will count towards a sum. The ultimate goal is to drag the net and gain the highest sum possible.
Source: Test Partnership
- Number Racer: You will be controlling an arrow representing a car, and you can move it left and right across the screen bottom of your device. From the top of the screen, there are blocks containing numbers dropping down. The game will give you a specific number to reach. You can catch the falling blocks or avoid them to reach the target number.
Source: Test Partnership
Aon is famous for its smartPredict with four game challenges.
- switchChallenge: This is a game-based version of a diagrammatic or abstract reasoning test, where you are asked to select which code option helps rearrange the shapes in the sequence above to achieve the shape sequence below. There will be different levels, and you can unlock the next level upon the successful completion of the current level. The sequences become more difficult as you progress, and you have to follow two or more rearranging codes to go from the top sequence to the bottom sequence.
- digitChallenge: You have a specific time allowance to solve an equation by entering missing numbers. In the game, you are presented with the answer, blank spaces for filling in the numbers, the operators between these (i.e plus, minus, division, and multiplication signs), and a set of numbers for you to select what to enter.
- motionChallenge: This minigame resembles the famous Rush Hour Traffic game. In this game, you have to get the ball to its goal by clearing its path and moving the blocks standing in its way. It's important to note that each level is timed and your moves in counted.
- gridChallenge: This is a memory game and you will have a few seconds to memorize a dot's position on a grid. As the original presentation disappears, there are two images asking you to identify if they are mirror images of each other or not. Once finish that distracting task, you will be asked to give your answer on the original position of the dot on the grid.
Revelian (now acquired by Criteria Australia) is a game-based assessment provider for emotional intelligence, decision-making skills, and level of innovation evaluation.
2 common types of Revelian game-based assessments are:
- The Revelian Cognify Test. This gamified test includes up to six games, with three assessing problem-solving skills, two measuring numerical reasoning ability, and one evaluating verbal knowledge.
- The Revelian Emotify Test. This exam includes two separate assessments: one is the matching faces task and one is the emotional ties test. Both of these assessments are designed to measure candidates’ ability to correctly perceive emotions.
As the assessments vary from company to company, and from test provider to test provider, it's difficult to prepare one for all. However, there are a few tips that might help you perform better on your real test.
- Figure out the test provider: This information is often disclosed in your invitation email to take the test. If not, you can also ask your hiring contact to see whether you can have such information. Once knowing your test provider, you can prepare more strategically and effectively by looking for similar game practices or jotting down important notes from the test provider's official guide.
- Practice beforehand: As you know what to practice, you can focus on practicing to improve your score on the real test. Useful sources for your practice include similar games and game trials on the test provider's official website. For example, Test Partnership provides candidates with free practice of its MindmetriQ on the website. Criteria Corps also make its GAME practice available on the website.
- Read the instruction: When taking the test, it's essential to read the instruction carefully. This helps you know exactly what to do and makes you aware of the time limit. Sometimes, you might be off guard after seeing and reading all the prep guides prior to the test. Nevertheless, the real test's instructions might differ and you have to read the instruction to avoid missing important information.
As game-based assessments gain popularity, there are a large number of companies already adopted such tests in their pre-employment process. The list includes famous names below