Things to Consider on the Subject of Neuroscience Games

As the world moves towards a higher dependency on technology, especially in trying times like these, many of the common workplace procedures will shift to online platforms. More companies will go remote with their employees and recruiting processes will be streamlined. The technological push will begin at the hiring phase and one such method of practice you may run across is the use of Neuroscience games. These are games designed to test aptitude in a variety of categories ranging from memory strength, basic math skills, and risk-taking propensity. Below I’ll walk you through common examples of Neuroscience games, what you and your employer can gain from them, and considerations to take when playing these games. 

Common Examples

The most common example of a neuroscience game is the balloon game. This game is designed to test how likely someone is to take risks. Depending on the industry you are in an especially in higher-level management jobs you may be required to make decisions without knowing what the outcome will be. These decisions often involve risks of varying scales that could put you on top of the world or send you spiraling down. Either way, it is important to employers for you to be able to make these risks with calculated measures in order to ensure the highest possibility of success. The balloon game works by placing you in front of a screen a giving you a button to press. Everytime you press the button the balloon grows in size but you risk the balloon popping. It is up to you to determine if you are going to continue inflating the balloon in order to get the biggest balloon or play it cool and stop inflating once you are past your realm of comfort. 

Another example is the classic memory shuffle game. A set of cards with images or words is placed in front of you. They are flipped over so that you cannot see the images or words. You are tasked with matching these cards to one another by flipping over two cards at a time and trying to find the pairs. In any industry, it will be vital that employees can follow directions (only flipping over two cards at a time) and that they have a decent memory. There will be times when you will be required to remember important information, and while you can always write it down or take a picture it is never guaranteed that you will have a pen, pencil, or preferred device on hand. 

What’s the point?

Many people question the point of neuroscience games. Do they work? What do they do if they do work? To answer the first question, there have been a number of psychological reports arguing for both sides. What cannot be argued is the fact that many major companies such as Tesla are opting to use the services in lie of a normal resume and interview process. The second question is a little harder to answer. It depends on the games they use and what they are looking for. In a nutshell, what employers get is a strong idea of where a candidate’s strengths lie. What are you objectively good at? Before they bring you in and let you get comfortable it is important for a company to know, at least on the base level, how you will perform aspects of certain tasks that they give you. 

Critics may also ask what the employee gets out of using neuroscience games. With resumes and interviews, it is often a get in, get out process with little to no feedback given. Unfortunately, many corporations look for what they want to see and if they don’t see it then the candidate has a low frequency of getting hired. Pymetrics, a company that makes and gathers results from these neuroscience games, sends feedback to both the employer and the candidate. This way the candidate gets a good idea of where their strengths lie. If there is an interview portion of the recruitment process then they can use the information gained from the results of these games to approach questions in a way that plays to their strong points. Even in the case where the candidate is not hired or brought in for further action they still walk away knowing a little bit more about what they are good at and that information is a priceless marketing tool. 

More to Consider

Hopefully by this point in the post, you understand more about how neuroscience games work an why more and more companies are opting to use them. Technology is inevitable. Adapting to it is a process that will take time but introducing technology into the most common aspects of human life can help to alleviate some of the transition struggles. That being said there are many things to consider when thinking about neuroscience games. 

  1. You won’t really know what kind of games you will be playing until you start playing them. Services like pymetrics don’t offer the chance to play the games beforehand. In order to get access to them, you must be applying to a company that uses their services. 
  2. There are plenty of other sites that offer the experience of neuroscience games just as a way to grow your brain. These can be used as practice if you know that you are applying to a company that tests their candidates with neuroscience games. 
  3. Neuroscience games are an ethical grey area. There are arguments made that it takes away the ability to hire based on common demographic features like race, gender, and age because there is no face to face contact between the employer and the candidate. However, numerous reports have shown that algorithms hold inherent biases as they are programmed by biased creatures. They also discriminate against those not adept with using technology and those who don’t have access to it. Though technology is becoming more necessary it remains a luxury in many places.
  4. Neuroscience games are an emerging project. Give it time to grow and work out all the kinks. For now, it provides an attractive recruiting model. 
  5. Most importantly, take your time and play to your strengths. Realize that this is not likely to be the only impression that you make with the hiring company.


Blog post written by Hunter Jones, NC State University, Mar 23, 2020. Featured photo image by sk on Unsplash.

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