17 March 2021

3 Myths about gamified assessments and why your skepticism is unjustified

There has been a lot of talk about gamified assessments being the future of hiring. Yet, like with all things that challenge traditional approaches, there is plenty of skepticism and misconceptions revolving around gamified assessments. 

I can imagine your skepticism towards gamified assessments. Gamification, however, is not nonsense, though. It is real, based on actual science, data-driven and the benefits of it are more tangible than of traditional assessments. 

In this post, I will debunk 3 myths about gamified assessments, with the aim to provide you with some more comfort when considering neuroscientific games as an assessment method to make better, unbiased hiring decisions. 


Myth 1: There is no science behind gamified assessments

“Can you really trust gamified assessments? Aren’t traditional tests way more reliable and scientifically proven?”

Gamified assessments are reliable when they are developed by a team of neuroscientists. As the term itself already suggests, neuroscientific games are based on modern neuroscience. Neuroscience that consists of two branches – behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. Behavioral skills such as critical thinking, ability to prioritize and adaptability are the most critical when making hiring decisions in the modern world. Equalture’s neuroscientific games reveal individual differences in personality and cognitive ability. It is precisely these differences that help to build a “picture” of a candidate’s personality which is useful for predicting job-relevant behaviors. 

Gamified cognitive assessments we use are novel scientific instruments and have been validated as such by the University of Twente, in The Netherlands. They are based on excessive neuroscientific research, and are better at predicting work performance than traditional selection methods.


Myth 2: Candidates don’t take games seriously

“I’m worried that job applicants will find it too playful and won’t take the process seriously.”

So, what about the candidate perspective? There is a common misconception that whatever is gamified, is there to entertain the player. So I can definitely imagine your worries with regards to candidates taking gamified assessments seriously. However, a research we conducted last year actually showed that candidates are more satisfied with gamified assessments than traditional assessments. (Check out our other blog post if you’re curious about the reasons why). 

Cambridge University Press suggests that there is a lot of potential in gamifying the assessment process from the perspective of the candidate. In fact, there is an increasing expectation from the applicant side for the assessments to be more engaging and interesting than before.

Even though gamified assessments share some similarities with games, they are by no means exactly the same. When game design features are incorporated into assessments that measure cognitive skills and personality traits, the applicant engagement is improved. This is what we call immersiveness in a gaming context. What does this mean? To put it simply, it just means that the candidate reaches a level of engagement that reduces the feeling of being assessed. Additionally, gamified assessments create an environment in which the candidates do not feel like they are being assessed, thus reducing the feelings of test anxiety This makes the experience more enjoyable and has the potential of reducing application drop-out rates. 

Now you might wonder, why do candidates enjoy gamified assessments? Candidates tend to like gamified assessments due to the tension created between the challenge and reward.

Through tapping into this intrinsic behavior, gamification motivates candidates in a twofold way:

  • Motivates them to recognize achievement: through points, badges, or checkpoints.
  • Provides feedback: allows candidates to see their strengths and weaknesses, eventually allowing them to improve.

Myth 3: Bias are also present in algorithms

“But wait, isn’t it possible that there is bias in the algorithms themselves?”

Before explaining the application of algorithms to gamification, I want to say that I firmly believe that there will always be bias in an algorithm. Even with AI there is some human input required. However, I also do believe that algorithms can decrease bias to a level that human beings would never be capable of. So yes, there is bias, and probably there will always be, but that can be brought down to just a fraction of the bias that we all have as human beings. 

Now, let’s dive into algorithms for gamification purposes

Gamified assessments are built on predictive algorithms. These algorithms are created based on cognitive and data neuroscience. The ultimate job of these predictive algorithms is to analyze data, recognize patterns and produce automated reports. And guess what – there is no room for unconscious biases like the “halo effect” or “personal bias”. In contrast to human bias, when it comes to algorithms – bias can be easily identified and corrected. The Harvard Business Review emphasizes that AI, in fact, holds the greatest promise for eliminating bias in hiring and harnessing the potential of diversifying the workplaces.

Alright, so that’s how it works, but what about assessing for bias in your algorithm? And even more important, how to make sure that you keep assessing for bias?

Every solid gamified assessment provider will keep assessing their own algorithm. By running analyses on the correlation between demographic, cultural differences, etc. and game scores, within different (job) contexts, you can prevent a situation like we’ve seen with Amazon, in which their algorithm favored men for tech positions. It’s all about being critical and continuously measuring what’s happening. It’s about this ethical mindset. And maybe this changes within 50 years from now, but at the moment, that’s the best we can do. 

To conclude

I hope I succeeded in providing you with some more comfort when considering neuroscientific games as an assessment method to make better, unbiased hiring decisions. After all, gamification is the future of hiring and it is here to stay. And within the context of debiasing hiring decisions, we should be very happy with this, as traditional assessments have unfortunately proven to be sensitive to all kinds of bias.

Get in touch with us so that we can show you some examples of gamified assessments!

Cheers, Anete