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More Employers See Virtual Benefit to Video Games

Hoping to capitalize on the popularity of such Facebook games as “Farmville” and “Mafia Wars”, Marriott International, Inc. just unveiled its “My Marriott Hotel” game on Facebook, the Wall Street Journal reported recently.

But rather than simply build buzz, “My Marriott Hotel”, which simulates the experience of managers at the fast-paced hotel restaurant, is ultimately being used as a recruitment tool.

Marriott follows in the footsteps of Siemens, whose “Plantville” is designed to give users a feel for what being manager of a bottling facility, vitamin factory or train-building plant is like, and Home Depot, which offers games on its Facebook page like “Cart Hustle” and “Paint Misbehavin” to engage potential employees.

These companies, however, are just the latest in a long line of employers who now use virtual technology as a recruitment tool.

For instance, as I reported last year, staffing firm Kelly Services uses Second Life to give job seekers an interactive experience, while MITRE Corporation enables job seekers to download a 3D video game that gives players a better understanding of the company’s campus and how the interview process works.

The trend of using video games as a recruitment tool actually goes back several years: According to the Entertainment Software Association, an estimated 70 percent of major domestic employers used these “serious games” to train employees in 2008.  That figure is estimated to increase to 80 percent by 2013.

It seems as if the practice is working in these companies’ favor, though. According to a recent study from the University of Colorado Denver Business School, “organizations which use video games to train employees end up with smarter, more motivated workers who learn more and forget less.”

(For the record, though, what these companies are doing will never have anything on Oregon Trail. That game ruled.)

And while the obvious downside to using video gaming techniques to train is the time and money involved in setting it up, but it’s worth noting that with today’s technology, it’s much easier and much less expensive to execute today than it was even a few years ago.

What do you think about using video games as a recruitment tool? Worth the investment or overrated?

Mary Lorenz

About Mary Lorenz

Mary is a copywriter for CareerBuilder, specializing in B2B marketing and corporate recruiting best practices and social media. In addition to creating copy for corporate advertising and marketing campaigns, she researches and writes about employee attraction, engagement and retention. Whenever possible, she makes references to pop culture. Sometimes, those references are even relevant. A New Orleans native, Mary now lives in Chicago, right down the street from the best sushi place in the city. It's awesome.
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