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HR=Humans Represent: Shall We Play A Game?

So what do you think? Would playing a game inspire you into a future career? It seems more and more employers are entering the world of gaming – so look out Farmville! Recruiters are utilizing an organization specific game in hopes of snagging their next great employee – for those job seekers who are willing to play.

I read last week that the list of game-playing employers is growing again. It’s been almost 10 years since the U.S. military unveiled America’s Army, and now Marriott International is introducing job seekers to “My Marriott Hotel” for those who are on facebook. Sounds like a great way for job seekers to spend their time – playing a game, learning about an organization, and gaining an understanding of what an employee will experience on the job.

Great idea, but not one that I think could be applied to my agency (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) as we deal with air, water, and waste issues in the state. So, I was thinking that perhaps a more general type of game or scenario where a fictitious supervisory position could be created, which had them managing each of our divisions. Quite the job overseeing it all – conducting hazardous waste inspections at company sites, issuing fines for violations, taking water samples and determining contaminants and analyzing in the lab, issuing High Pollution Advisories, managing vehicle emission testing, issuing mining permits, writing laws and policies, reporting to the governor, dealing with contaminated soils from leaky underground storage tanks….whew! It would certainly give job seekers an idea of what we do at least.

So what are your thoughts? Does your agency have a number of positions that are frequently being recruited for that you think might make an excellent game? Even if you don’t, creating an educational game such as these might help not so much with recruitment, but with public relations. Worse case, the game player simply learns all about your agency…and who knows, your idea could become so wildly popular that more people think about public service as a career!

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Donna Jo

I think this is a good idea for Gen Y on! Most people have PSP, XBOX, Wii …. everyone is in to gaming, even the previous generations.

Doug Tharp


Excellent ideas. I’ve been thinking of something similiar for the NRC. Not necessarily for recruiting, but for indcution training for new inspectors. A virtual nuclear power plant with different systems and issues to inspect as well as operations to oversee. This could encompass most of the things that inspectors do at the plants and would be much more engaging than someone standing in front of them telling them how it was 30 years ago in the plants. Good luck with your game.

Cindy Nguyen

These are great ideas! To expand on your vision…I imagine a user being able to pick from a collection of avatar type characters (choosing hairstyles and different outfits). Once completed the avatar would be sent to the office to talk to their supervisor. A list of tasks correlated to points would guide them through a “day at the job.” Tidbits about each task would be incorporated to provide a job seeker with insight on the duties of the position. Upon successful completion of the tasks the points would be awarded and the user could see where they ranked against others.

Some examples we have helped agencies with include, Follow the Money, Got a Grip on College and a match game for the IRS – http://www.icwgames.com/. Also on MDA’s site there is another example of a game called the Interceptor: http://www.mda.mil/careers/interceptor.html. The games are not only educational, but provide content to a seeker in a fun and unique way.

Pam Broviak

I think it’s an awesome concept and would fit well into many positions in local government. Because of this, I’ve been very interested in exploring the idea of using virtual spaces & avatars to enhance training. To date, most of my work has been in 3D immersive spaces. Not sure if any of you are using Second Life or its open source equivalent, OpenSim, but it’s not too complicated to create in those environments a training scenario much like all of you have described. Currently, I’m working with our MuniGov group on creating a virtual training site of the ADA Toolkit for Local Government. But I’ve also helped out with some efforts using non-3D tools. Our city recently launched a low-key game theme around a volunteer effort: http://www.genevarecordsproject.org/

There are a lot of awesome people on the Fed side who are active in using this technology such as Douglas Maxwell with the Army, Eric Hackathorn with NOAA, and Paulette Robinson with the NDU (& FCVW) to name a few.

Beverly Gay McCarteralso just posted some info about an educational virtual space she and others created in Second Life that teaches the Mayan culture. It’s a great example of using some “gaming” techniques to enhance learning.

And if you’re interested in learning more about how to embed games into learning, Boise State University is hosting a summer course in this topic: http://3dgamelab.org.mmoguildsites.com/ – I signed up because it looks like a unique opportunity to learn some great concepts.

I think we are the beginning of what will one day become standard training practice!


@ Pam. Agreed! It would make an awesome tool to educate the public on an agency’s mission/purpose. Yesterday I was a judge at a University for a Senior Project Fair. Two of the projects were games. It was amazing to see what a group of 5 students can accomplish in as little as 15 weeks!