A deep-dive into the science behind our Games

Your deep dive into the scientific background, application, validation & bias prevention and inclusivity of our games

Scientific background

Which scientific approach is used to develop our games?

Our neuroscientific games are, as the term already suggests, based on neuroscience. Neuroscience, also known as Neural Science, is the study of how our nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does. Neuroscience focuses on the brain and its impact on behaviour and cognitive functions. The branches of modern neuroscience that are used to develop our neuroscientific games are behavioral neuroscience and cognitive neuroscience.

Why is our scientific approach different from the approach of traditional tests?

Assessments have proven to be a successful method to help us change the way we see people. In contrast to resumes that are focused on looking backward, assessments provide us with the unique opportunity to take a look inside our brains, revealing our behaviours, talents, and potential. 

Traditional assessments, such as a personality questionnaire, have been at the start of this development, and have been an enormous step forward. However, most traditional assessments base their algorithms on models, such as the Big Five, which have been created decades or even centuries ago. The rise of neuroscience has enabled the recruitment landscape to redefine its scientific approaches to candidate assessments and replace ancient models with more accurate, contemporary, and direct measurements.

Validation & Bias prevention

Are the games validated? And if yes, how?

Our games are developed in collaboration with an assessment agency and validated by the University of Twente. Various Pearson assessment instruments have been used to provide construct validity. Also, to prevent bias, participants from a variety of different ages, genders, ethnicity, employment field, and educational background have been selected for the validity study. Moreover, the games are audited regularly on potential demographic biases.

How is bias in scoring prevented?

As Equalture’s mission is to shape the world of unbiased hiring, preventing bias in the scoring algorithms is our number one priority. For at least 85% of all candidates applying through Equalture, we collect someone’s gender, age, and nationality. We do so in order to keep auditing our algorithms for potential demographic biases on a regular basis. 

Also, when validating the games, demographic diversity has been taken into account when selecting the norm group. Participants from a variety of different ages, genders, ethnicity, employment field, and educational background have been selected in order to audit bias from day one.

Finally, cultural bias is by default tackled by making use of gamified assessments, rather than traditional tests. When taking traditional assessments, cultural bias happens for two reasons.

First of all, in traditional tests, much text is often used. Words can be interpreted differently based on your cultural background. Personality questionnaires can therefore be wrongly interpreted when not taking cultural differences into account.

Also, social desirability is much easier to achieve in traditional tests. Social desirable behaviour, however, is also different for different cultures. For example, workplace behaviour and hierarchy can vary significantly, based on the cultural roots of a company. Therefore, people with different cultural backgrounds will likely provide different socially desirable answers. 

Application

What do our games measure?

Our neuroscientific games measure cognitive abilities and behavioural traits, indicating both someone’s competencies in the workplace, as well as someone’s behaviours. Flexibility, for example, is a behavioural trait, that indicates the extent to which you can cope with and adapt to changes in the workplace. Problem-solving, in contrast to flexibility, is a cognitive ability, indicating to what extent you can critically think about and solve complex business issues.

How can you measure cognitive abilities and behavioural traits in a game?

Depending on the task that someone is asked to complete in the game, you can either measure the participant’s behaviour, or their cognitive ability. You’ll find two examples below to help you understand how this has been done in a game. 

Example 1: Measuring problem-solving ability (cognitive)

The Skyscraper game measures problem-solving ability. In this game, participants are asked to rebuild towers, provided in an example, in the least steps possible. The participant sees three high-rise buildings labeled as A, B, and C, each at the top and bottom of the game screen. The upper picture shows the example that the player has to recreate in the lower action field. To do this, the participant has to move individual floors, so that they match the example. These steps are repeated until the example from the upper game screen is rebuilt in the lower part of the screen. 

Participants with a high problem-solving ability will be able to rebuild the tower in fewer steps, as they can plan ahead and think critically about the ideal moving strategy. Therefore, by tracking both which building blocks are moved, as well as how many building blocks are moved, the algorithm behind the game can measure how far the participant’s strategy is away from the ideal strategy. This determines the participant’s problem-solving ability.

Example 2: Measuring flexibility (behavioural)

The Switch game measures flexibility. In this game, participants are asked to execute two different tasks, while constantly switching between those tasks. A person’s flexibility can be measured by looking at two traits: (i) identifying changes and (ii) switching strategies. Therefore, by tracking how well someone executes the tasks, as well as how long it takes to complete a task, we can measure flexibility. 

Games are more engaging for candidates, but are they also not stressful at all?

Gamified assessments are more attractive to candidates and consequently more enjoyable to take part in. However, as we also measure traits such as workload handling, not every game can reduce experiencing stress entirely.

Our games are adaptive, meaning that the level of difficulty of each game depends on your performance. The game always tries to reach your maximum level, in order to assess your potential. This means that, especially with time- and speed-related games, there will always be a point in which you ‘fail’. However, this does not indicate poor performance in this game. In fact, the more difficult it gets, the better someone performs. This is also communicated in our FAQ for candidates who have taken part in the assessment.

Inclusion

How do the games take color blindness into account?

For each game that contains a color element, a second element is added to ensure that participants with color blindness can complete the game without any difficulties. For example, in the Skyscraper game, a participant is asked to rebuild a tower that is represented, by moving building blocks, so that they match the example. People without color blindness will focus on the color of the different building blocks. For people with color blindness, a pattern is also added to each building block. For example, a red building block is not only characterised by the red color, but also by a diamond pattern. People with color blindness will therefore focus on the pattern, rather than the color.

How do the games take dyslexia into account?

The amount of text that is used to explain a game is limited to a minimal level. Also, a practice round, which is not limited to time, is included in each game and enables participants to test if they understood the game correctly. Only when participants understand the game, which is measured during the practice rounds, the participant can continue to the actual game. Once the game starts, no additional text will be displayed.

How do mental disorders, such as ADHD and autism, impact game results?

ADHD and autism are examples of neurodiversity. Neurodiversity refers to variation in the human brain regarding sociability, learning, attention, and mental functions. Within teams, neurodiversity is often an underestimated, yet very important success predictor, as neurodiversity within teams contributes to a broader skillset. And therefore, conditions like ADHD and autism could actually contribute to team neurodiversity, as they bring along certain skills and traits.

Research has shown a correlation between types of neurodiversity and skills/personality traits. For example, people with ADHD are likely to be more impulsive and less ordered but are also likely to be more creative. People with autism, on the other hand, might find it more difficult to understand emotions, but they are also likely to be way more careful and structured. 

As the games measure specific skills and personality traits, it’s likely that neurodiverse participants will score either higher or lower than average on certain games. However, within the Equalture platform, this is considered a positive outcome, as our features stimulate neurodiversity in teams. When for instance a Sales team lacks carefulness and structure, it’s likely that someone on the autism spectrum fits the needs of this team better.