I Am Progrez

Featuring: Linda Frietman

In this episode I speak with Linda Frietman- one of the founders of IamProgrez a talent assessment firm located in the Netherlands.

Linda’s core mission is to create pathways that allow people to show who they are through the data they create- and her firm is doing this in a most novel and interesting way.

While there are many firms out there who offer game based assessments- Linda and her company have turned the traditional model for gaming assessments on its ear by using data from existing entertainment game play to measure soft skills and predict job fit.

To help my skeptical mind process the legitimacy of IamProgrez’ approach – much of the episode centers around the origins and the technical aspects of the development and use of their assessment methodology.

The origin story—

Linda relates that a few years ago – as her team was developing some new assessment tools on a tight deadline- she observed her dev ops team playing an online game during a much needed sanity break. As she observed the gamers interacting within the game environment, Linda clearly saw that the skills needed in-game were very similar to those needed to effectively perform jobs in the real world. From this critical moment forward- Linda has hitched her firm’s destiny to extracting trait based measures from commercially available game play.

“Game Dynamics” is the rosetta stone–

IamProgrez focuses on the “Steam” gaming platform which functions somewhat like the Netflix of games, and has become a de facto social network for gamers. Steam has thousands of games that are accessible via one subscription. The part of the steam platform that opens the door to assessments is the collection of game play metrics that are standardized across all the games on the platform (AKA “Game Dynamics). While many game based assessments attempt to extrapolate traits from data such as use metrics such as cursor movement and time between clicks- Game Dynamics data packages game play behaviors into more interpretable metrics that are transportable and transcend any one specific game.

Construct validation of soft skills & the Dutch military

Within games- players make many choices from what kind of character they want to play, to the extent to which they lead or follow others. All of these choices can be tracked in Game Dynamics. With a staff of ½ psychologists and ½ gamers – IamProgrez has been mapping Game Dynamics to soft skills by giving gamers standard personality and soft skills assessments and examining the relation between these inventories and their game play data. This effort has been successful in demonstrating the construct validity of the game play metrics as soft skills measures.

Like many other countries- the Netherlands is facing a skills crisis in that the pace of learning institutions preparing students for the workforce is not keeping up with technological demands required on the job. It has also been hard for more established companies to connect with the emerging workforce. Facing an increasing generation gap and an aging force- the Dutch Military put out a call for assistance in helping them engage the younger side of the talent pool.

Linda’s team answered the call and has been deeply engaged with the military in constructing programs that use gaming and game play data as a recruiting tool that also measures important work related skills. While still in its infancy- the program has been a big success in helping the military speak the language of the millions of gamers who are so critical to building their future ranks.

Where do we go from here?

IamProgrez is now working to define the soft skills that are needed for specific jobs/roles so they can connect these profiles to game play data and build out pathways from game play to prediction of job success. This program is now under development and will eventually allow the concept of using mainstream gaming data as a predictor to go to the next level.

We close our conversation by discussing the future plans for this innovative approach, including using it to help level the playing field for those who may not come from traditional backgrounds. This methodology has the potential to open access to millions of young people who may not be enticed, evaluated, or engaged by more traditional methods- but who have all the tools needed to make a meaningful contribution.

You can find and follow Linda on LinkedIn: