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Work: a serious game in which you are the hero

Whether you’re training, hiring, team building, or even just breathing, taking your colleagues out for fun-packed, virtual or real-life activities is far from futile. On the contrary, it’s an alternative learning method, to gain insights into yourself and others. An ever-growing phenomenon in the past few years.

“Colonel Mustard, in the library, with the candlestick”. Escape games are a rare opportunity for employees to deploy their powers of deduction alongside their colleagues. Scripted entertainment has been enjoying increasing popularity in France in the past few years, with many firms hoping not only to offer very unusual experiences to stimulate their teams, but also to learn a few things from these experiences.

Whether you need an ice-breaker, or something novel to forge strong ties, or to change how you view the people you spend most of your time with, these experiences can all fit the bill. The main difficulty is having to choose from the myriad venues and structures in which to experience such moments. Your best bet is to find people with a passion, who are delighted to constantly share and imagine new concepts and intrigues.

Looking for those famous soft skills

The designers of these games often emphasise the skills required by participants to escape from their various worlds: communication maybe, or collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, or even leadership or patience. These soft skills can then be transposed to the world of work and project management.

Hence HR’s interest in these activities, since they are a way of trialling their staff in unusual situations, potentially revealing their strengths and weaknesses. Unlike hiring processes however, these criteria are purely indicative and are not used to disqualify any particular staff member. On the contrary, “it helps applicants reveal what they don’t manage to put across during clichéd interview formats,” opined research worker Hélène Michel in an interview with the magazine Socialter

Online games as a showcase and a hiring tool

Serious video games that set individual challenges in a virtual world, can be quite empowering, ridding participants of inhibitions, encouraging them to break out of their comfort zone. Long the preserve of in-house only use, some of these games are now available online, harnessing a comfortable playing position to attract participants from a wider set than just employees.

So Décathlon and L’Oréal will handle a product launch from A to Z, as a way of presenting various lines of business within the firm. Orange has invited players to fit electric facilities in a fictional town. Looking beyond the experience of a game that’s accessible to all, these firms openly scrutinise user behaviour on their platforms in order to be sure of spotting the talents of tomorrow. And thus an entertaining experience suddenly gets very real.

Whether or not HR are watching what’s going on during these entertaining experiences, you have to admit that the magic works practically every time. Employees do mostly get into the spirit of the game and do not let up on its conventions even for an instant.

This is when unusual, if highly desirable phenomena occur. The trial places participants on an equal footing. People who don’t usually work together learn to do so, finding middle ground. This leads to a form of emulation, and the deployment of collective intelligence, while enjoying an entertaining experience.

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