While it's not clear if "Farmville" ever did anything to inspire future farmers, Marriott International Inc. is hoping a hotel-themed online game could be a recruiting tool for the hotel industry. Unlike Zynga Inc.'s "Farmville," which was developed as a revenue-generating game, Marriott's title is part of an emerging trend of using computer games for recruiting. Nearly a decade ago the U.S. military introduced America's Army. "Virtual Team Challenge" is an employer branding and recruiting program that attracts talent to the accounting/audit career path through the first-ever use of multiplayer virtual worlds for talent. (See New York Times).
Like Flight Simulators for best practices, "Sims" and learning games can improve organizational performance and individual development. BusinessWeek cites it as a format that acknowledges the changed media needs of the next generation workforce that are more engaging than any other.
The strategy for talent acquisition: Sims tell the employer brand story and deliver 'self-selected' inspired candidates. Through integrated assessment instruments, companies can cast a wider net and prioritize who funnels out, helping identify rising stars and future leaders.
Marriott's game is designed to be purely marketing and does not attempt to evaluate and select employees. Marriott says "My Marriott" may help attract newcomers to around 50,000 hotel positions this year, many in emerging markets such as India and China, which don't have strong hospitality-industry traditions.
The first iteration includes a depiction of a Marriott kitchen. The player hires staff, choosing from a range of experiences and salaries, and buys stoves and kitchen utensils. The company says it will roll out games depicting other aspects of the hotel business and will introduce mobile-phone play next year.