Social Gaming as a Recruitment Tool

Mark Stephens

With the huge global popularity of social gaming it was only a matter of time before it made the crossover into the world of employment and business. The development of games for specific purposes for specific companies is not yet widespread, but some notable brands have started to use it for recruitment purposes.


Effective recruitment is a huge cost to businesses. Through gaming, businesses seek to attract the right candidates at a young age by giving them a ‘virtual taste’ of what it is like to work for them by engaging them in doing what they love most. It is also being used to measure candidates’ suitability for a role or organisation.

This meeting of ‘work’ and ‘play’ may seem like a strange relationship. Let’s take a closer look.

From Marriott to L’Oreal

Reckitt Benckiser (RB) was an early adopter, launching a Facebook game in 2010 called poweRBrands. While not a direct recruitment tool, it was designed to give young salespeople and marketers an introduction to the company culture and the corporate world as a whole, so that they might consider a future career with them. However, this game appeared to have limited success.

The Marriott International achieved more with its Facebook game in 2011 called My Marriott Hotel, which is still available to play today. This simulates running a virtual hotel and kitchen and is targeted at giving young players a ‘taster’ of working in a hotel – especially in developing countries where finding the right people has at times proven difficult for the hotel chain. It is available in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, and Mandarin.

L’Oreal has also achieved some success with its game Reveal , which gives players the chance to experience and learn from the stages of a product launch. Through this game the company attracts around 100 new graduates per year. Though this was the company’s first online social game, L’Oreal has run another game called Brandstorm for many years, helping it to attract new talent.

Other major companies to have experimented with games for recruitment in recent years include Proctor and Gamble, with its Product Pursuit game, and Boehringer Ingelheim, with Syrum, which is a medical-themed game.

In each case the intention is to appeal to generation Y-ers or ‘millenials’ and to spark interest in the career opportunities available.

Work or play?

As well as attracting potential talent, social games are also increasingly being used as a way to assess the suitability of students and applicants for positions.

NBC News reported just recently that ‘at least six major banking firms will be using online video games grounded in neuroscience and big data to help match candidates with jobs.’

This all sounds pretty scary, so how exactly will the games be used? A New York-based startup company called Pymetrics is behind it. It works with companies using simple games that measure things like a person’s attentiveness and impulsiveness, creating a social and cognitive profile that highlights his or her strengths.

These characteristics, which cannot be gauged from a person’s resume, are then matched with what particular companies (in this case, banks) are especially looking for.

Gaming is not a way to finalise candidates for a position but it can help the screening process for entry-level candidates before interview stage. It could also be used to find existing employees jobs within the organisation that better match their profiles.

This is likely just the start. The sense of fun and engagement that people feel with gaming makes it an attractive and flexible tool for many purposes and we are likely to see more experimentation within recruitment and HR.