Serious Games

For the development of yourself or your team.

How organisations are using serious games to maximise results

Organisations have been using serious games for a long time, and for good reason. Unlike physical role-playing games, which don’t always make it easy to remain objective (due to potential underlying tensions with certain colleagues), they fully draw the player into the game, and teach the user new competences. 

Human Insight, who works with the consultants and executive coaches Hanno Meyer and Dr Alec W. Serlie, recently discussed the topic of serious games with them. Meyer and Serlie collaborate on career assessments and developmental assessments for multiple boards of directors. They use serious games and the AEM-Cube® for this very purpose, and Serlie himself has developed several serious games, such as the Leadership Game.

Why are these educational games so popular and how do they contribute to the development of individuals and organisations?

Discovering potential

Meyer and Serlie are both positive about using the AEM-Cube and the Leadership Game: “They give a very nice complete picture of someone’s natural tendencies, qualities and potential”, explains Serlie. “Both tools are easy to explain to people, and the insights are easy to understand and set a movement in motion.”  

“All these tests are mirrors as far as I am concerned,” Meyer adds. “I help you to reflect with materials and insights from different angles, so you can get a better picture of yourself.” “The more insight and self-awareness you have, the more you can stay in control when it comes to your behaviour.” Human Insight regularly uses the AEM-Cube and the Leadership Game together while coaching individuals and organisations.

Both Meyer and Serlie derive great satisfaction from coaching and career guidance. “Developing people is more interesting than just selling a yes or no,” Meyer says. Like Serlie, he profiles himself as an ‘executive coach’, meaning he coaches the highest level within organisations, guiding executive teams and civil service tops.

Serious games for serious clients

Why do Meyer and Serlie use serious games to help organisations in the first place? It once started with a big pharmaceutical company (names of specific companies are not mentioned for legal reasons). This company wanted to measure integrity and compliance, and this was usually done via questionnaires, on which people were not always 100 percent honest. For this reason, Meyer and Serlie looked for a new way to measure integrity and compliance. There had already been a development where role plays evolved into situational judgement tests.

Scientific studies showed a high predictive value of this type of instrument, and Serlie and Meyer wanted to add something extra. Then they went to a game company and developed three serious games for the pharmaceutical company, which caught on enormously. 

The demand for serious games

Serious games are currently in high demand, but when Serlie and Meyer started doing this, that wasn’t the case. This was partly due to the high costs.

During his time as R&D manager at a then large HR agency, Serlie helped write a European grant proposal that was honoured, partly because he had experience with serious games. Within this European project, which cost about 2 tonnes in total, Serlie and Meyer created two serious games on the subject of collaboration.

For this, they ‘pulled out all the stops’. The idea was: we want to make something new, which is also scalable.

A major client worth mentioning that successfully used the Leadership Game is UNIDO, a part of the United Nations that seeks to promote and accelerate industrial development. Coordinators from many different countries met in 2016 and attended various training sessions. The biggest takeaway: everyone was raving about the Leadership Game.

Success of serious games

According to Serlie, the success of serious games is partly down to the fact that you get ‘sucked into these games’, which is similar to what happens during a Netflix bingeing session. Moreover, the game also develops differently depending on how you play it. “It is much more lifelike, and contains a narrative that develops based on your choices, which makes you answer in a much more honest way.” This allows you to measure someone’s behaviour in a much more unpolluted, objective way. 

Serious games also give people a language to explain their own behaviour, according to Serlie. External-focused, explorative people, for example, will identify more with certain characters who display these traits in the game. And if someone has a certain orientation (according to the AEM-Cube) but this is not yet clearly visible in their behaviour, then they know that they need to work on this behaviour. Thanks to serious games and the AEM-Cube, you can much more easily become aware of your own behaviour, and then take the necessary steps to boost your own personal development, Serlie says.

The AEM-Cube is also useful if you don’t know whether you are in the right place, Meyer adds. You might know how to carry out all the required tasks, but it doesn’t make you happy. To illustrate this point, Meyer talks about the so-called ‘40-year itch’. This is when you reach a point where you have shown that you can do something, and in a sense have met certain societal expectations. What you now ask yourself is: do I really want this?

“You have a growth period, a period of bloom and a pruning period,” Meyer explains. “Answering who you are and what you actually want through the tools we use is part of the process.”

Intention and behaviour

The Leadership Game and AEM-Cube complement each other well, according to Meyer and Serlie. The Leadership Game is about intention and behaviour. The AEM-Cube is almost a kind of value measurement, revolving around questions like: what do you find important in life, are you people-oriented, content-oriented, etc.?

The information provided by the AEM-Cube is often a confirmation of what you see in the Leadership Game. The most added value, besides the insights the tools provide the individual, is found at group level, according to both consultants. You discover what a team looks like, and learn how to act.

The Leadership Game, for instance, gives you answers to questions like: are we all internally or externally focused? The AEM-Cube shows you what you need to pay attention to in your development or recruitment, and whether you need to hire more generalists or specialists, for instance.

The future of serious games

In the future, Serlie thinks it will be a good idea to also look at other techniques such as virtual reality, as these will encourage even more intense participation. It’s also possible that there will be a renewed interest in the situational judgement test. Despite potential future developments, both Meyer and Serlie want to continue using tools like the AEM-Cube and Leadership Game for a long time, because it is a rock-solid combination.


What is the background of Hanno Meyer and Dr Alec W. Serlie? Read more about these serious gaming experts and connect with them on LinkedIn.

Hanno Meyer has been an occupational and organisational psychologist for 32.5 years and has worked at the AMC (academic medical centre in Amsterdam) and GITP, where he focused on reorganisations. He started his own business as an entrepreneur three years ago.

Meyer is an AEM-Cube Certified Practitioner and makes extensive use of tests during his coaching practice, such as Hogan’s personality test, Hogan trilogy, interest tests, AEM-Cube and Leadership Game.

Alec W. Serlie is a medical, occupational and organisational psychologist. He met Meyer at GITP, where he worked for 25 years on career and selection assessments and as manager R&D, among other things. He also worked extensively with psychologist Peter Robertson (the man behind much of Human Insight’s thinking).

He has developed all kinds of products and services in the field of career development, including the Leadership Game. He currently works as an (executive) coach and occupational and organisational psychologist. He also works at GGZ-Delfland and is a university lecturer at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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