The elements covered in this subsection need to be addressed during the design stage too, but for the purposes of discussion have been grouped here. In other words, do not wait until the game has been developed before considering these elements, as doing so will usually require significant redesign. Conceptually, this subsection covers how the game is to be used and potential issues related to using a game for selection purposes. Like the preceding subsections, this is a fairly broad overview of areas and requires far more detail in an actual game development project, and so needs qualified experts to address them effectively.
Platforms and devices One of the first elements to address is whether or not the game can be played on a mobile device. In most cases, games designed to be played on a PC or laptop are very different from those designed to be played on a mobile device, primarily because of the difference in screen size. Simply put, more information can be displayed on a PC or laptop screen than on a mobile device, and this leads to important decisions regarding the game interface and actual game play.
If the game is designed exclusively for PC or laptop use, there are still several areas to consider. How will the game be accessed? Does it have to be available via the internet, corporate intranet or only on designated local computers? If it is to be accessed via the internet, which browsers (and versions of browsers) need to be supported? Is a plan in place to support newer browser versions? What minimum resolution (screen size) does the game require? Will candidates need speakers or headphones in order to hear the game sounds? How fast should a candidate’s internet connection be? What happens if the candidate is disconnected? Which operating systems (e.g., Windows, iOS, Linux) will be supported? Will a plug-in be required in order to play the game?
More questions need to be addressed if the game also needs to be playable on a mobile device (including a tablet). Does the game need to be playable on Android, iOS and Windows devices? Which mobile devices need to be supported? Is there a plan in place to update the game when new versions of these devices and/or operating systems are released? What is the minimum screen size needed to play the game? Will the game experience be the same on a mobile device as it is for those playing on a PC or laptop? Is a wireless internet (wifi) connection required, or can the game be played over the mobile network? What happens if the candidate drops the connection?
Determining whether the game should be mobile-enabled (i.e., playable on a mobile device but accessed through the internet) or developed as a mobile application (app) is another key decision. As a general recommendation, games for selection purposes should be mobile-enabled and not an app. First, it enhances security because the scoring protocol cannot be downloaded. Second, most candidates will be unwilling to download and install an app that they will play only once. Third, creating an app and making it available via the various app stores (e.g., iTunes, Google Play) adds time and cost to the project. Finally, data collection and retrieval are more efficient and reliable with mobile-enabled games.
Localization Culturally adapting and translating a game for use outside the country or region it was originally designed for is known as localization. This involves translating the text and dialogue as well as ensuring all elements of the game have been adapted to cultural norms in order to ensure the equivalence of the KSAOs that are being measured. If possible, deciding in advance (i.e., before game design starts) which regions/languages will need to be supported is highly recommended, as this will provide useful input to how the game is designed in order to minimize the cost and time required to localize it.
If it is not possible to determine specific localization requirements in advance, even deciding whether or not the game will need to be localized at all is recommended.
A full explanation of the process and best practices of localization are beyond the scope of this chapter, but a few key questions follow to aid understanding of the importance of localization considerations. Will the game be accepted in the target culture as a selection tool? Is there anything in the original game that could be perceived as culturally inappropriate or even offensive? Are there any technical challenges to deploying the game in a different region? Are the KSAOs assessed during the game also important for job performance in the target culture? If so, how will measurement equivalence be determined? Will the game need to be validated in the target culture?
Depending on the game design, localization can be a fairly lengthy and expensive process or it can be short and inexpensive, so it is important to identify any localization requirements at the outset of the project. If the target languages or regions are known in advance, it is highly recommended to have translation or cross-cultural subject matter experts (SMEs) involved in the early stages of game design. If the languages are not known in advance but it is anticipated that there will be a need to localize in the future, then identifying a few of the principal languages that may be necessary will also help the SMEs advise on the design process. Of course, it is still possible to localize a game if it was initially built for only one language or region, but it will take longer and cost more than if localization considerations are known in advance.
Legal issues In the US, Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Israel, France, Germany, Chile, Japan, Belgium and elsewhere any form of assessment (including a game) used for selection purposes must meet certain legal criteria. In the US, the game must show evidence that it is valid for its intended use (American Educational Research Association, American Psychological Association, & National Council on Measurement in Education, 1999; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 1978; Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 2003). In other words, research is required to show the job-relatedness of the score(s) produced by the game that are to be used for making employment decisions. Evidence is also required to show that the game is a reliable (i.e., consistently accurate) measure of whatever KSAO(s) it claims to measure. In addition, games used for selection should not result in an adverse impact for protected classes (racial/ethnic, gender and age groups). However, if the validation evidence clearly supports the use of the game, then the concern for adverse impact is mitigated from a legal perspective.
Although the bases for legal protections in the other countries noted above vary widely, all have some form of protection for members of specific groups. These protections outline requirements for many employment practices and nearly all have requirements specific to selection procedures. For a comprehensive overview of the legal environments for personnel selection in 22 countries, we highly recommend more detailed reviews (Myors et al., 2008; Sackett et al., 2010). Of course, a specific understanding of the legal requirements for each country is necessary for those who plan to utilize these methods in practice.
Single versus repeated play As opposed to games used in training environments, selection games are usually played only once. Since the purpose is to evaluate candidates’ current skills, there is a strong need to avoid contaminating the scores obtained with practice. In other words, candidates should not be given the opportunity to play the game multiple times, as doing so will enable them to inflate their scores. The only exception to this is when playing the game multiple times does not impact the score.
Security As with all pre-employment assessments, there is a greater need for security when it comes to serious games used for selection purposes. In a training environment players who cheat (e.g., by attempting to get the ‘right’ answers from others) are only cheating themselves out of a learning opportunity, so the risk of cheating is small. In a hiring situation, especially one that is high-stakes, more players may attempt to ‘game the game’.
Security considerations should not be taken lightly as serious games are developed and implemented in a personnel selection context. Care should be exercised in the development and implementation of the game to protect it from being compromised. The use of adaptive or branching methods is one way to increase a game’s security, as is limiting access and allowing candidates to play the game once only. Other characteristics of serious games (e.g., uncertainty, non-linear design, game play rules) should be maximized in order to reduce the potential for cheating. In addition, ongoing monitoring is recommended to detect suspicious data trends and/or outright content breaches.