Hired is a mixed cooperative and competitive game about the power of bias in the hiring process. In Hired, a group of players represent a team of managers deciding on which candidates to hire for important positions in their organization. In addition to the CVs of the candidates, they each have access to information known only to them, that could influence the decision. However, each player also has a secret bias, such as not wanting to hire women, or not wanting to hire older people, etc. The players decide which information to share, to not share, or to lie about, in order to match their bias. But if another player detects their bias, they can be called out and their power diminished.
Playing Hired is a a great way to introduce the concept of implicit bias and the wealth of research results that document it. Within workshops, we discuss concrete ways in which organizations can change their hiring processes to account for bias.
In its first version, Hired is a card game, with the goal of rendering explicit the concept of implicit bias. As Gayathri writes in the original blogpost that accompanied its release: “Unconscious bias is a psychological phenomenon where our brains perception of certain people is skewed based on our past knowledge and experiences. It’s not that we are either good or bad people in the way we judge others, it’s just that our brain has to process so much information that it has evolved mechanisms to make things easy in processing information. But the problem is that it may not always help us make the right decisions.”
Playtesting revealed that Hired sparks interesting discussion around the hiring process, as well as being engaging. However the scoring system and secret information cards are complex for players to manage.
In version 2 of the game, we attempted to it into a multiplayer smartphone app. The idea was to allow players to avoid having to calculate scores, and for the game to figure out how well the organization did as a whole in its hiring process. We implemented it so that each player connects to a central server, but by entering the unique game code, is put into the same game as their friends.
We were done with about 75% of the development on this version when we tested it in India, and discovered that the unstable internet connections there made it almost impossible to play through a whole game. There are likely other ways to handle the networking in these cases, either by setting up a specialized local network, or by using peer-to-peer connections, as supported on certain phones. But we did not have the room in our schedule to make these major architectural changes. In the meantime, we had also read that people play together on their phones can lead to less group discussion, which is the opposite of the effect we have been seeking.
For these reasons, we decided to go back to a card game format, while keeping the additional features we had designed for the digital version. There is always a choice between two candidates, a player can abstain from voting, there is an advantage for hiring within your own department, players do not get new biases after being exposed, and there is a unified scoring system that takes the business decisions into account.
Overall, the result is a much improved game experience, perhaps even better than it would have been on the smartphone!
Hired was originally created by Gayathri Gopalakrishnan and Jesse Himmelstein.
The current version was developed by Jesse Himmelstein (design), Radhika Beaume (art), and Jasdev Singh (art). Thanks to Fabrice Jouvenot for his feedback and design ideas.