Gamification: The Next Big Thing in Events

Who doesn’t like games? Gamification is the hottest new innovation in event planning. For those that want to engage, entertain and inform their audience, games are sure to deliver. Let’s take a look at what all the hubbub’s about.

What Is Gamification?

According to EventMobi, gamification is the “integration of game-like thinking in non-game environments to bolster engagement, loyalty and fun.” Credit cards points and Girl/Boy Scout badges are well known examples of how gaming can increase interest.

The truth is, games are nothing new to events. Trivia questions, prize drawings and contests have been a part of events for years. The difference now is that smartphones take the game experience to an entire new level of interactivity. We all witnessed the Pokemon GO phenomenon. Who doesn’t want that kind of buzz for their event?

Why Gamification?

When people attend your event, you want them to remember your message and have a great time. Games are a fantastic way to accomplish this. The classic example is a scavenger hunt. Everyone loves scurrying around looking for things. Why? Because discovery elicits an emotional and biological response felt as pleasure.

According to visionary game designer Jane McGonigal, over 174 million Americans are active gamers, and 25 percent of them are over age 50. Furthermore, more than 60 percent of executives take daily game-playing work breaks. McGonigal observes that games provide “exhilarating rewards, stimulating challenges and epic victories that are so often lacking in the real world.” By incorporating games in your event, you link these powerful experiences with your brand.

Types of Gamification

So you’re convinced that games offer value to your event. But what type of game should you use? The physical space of your event will make some games more appropriate than others, so consider your venue when deciding on a format.

When it comes to games, the most popular and effective options are:

  • Scavenger hunts – Attendees can search for clues, landmarks or even QR codes. As players accumulate badges or points, they can exchange them for prizes. Your sponsors’ booths, for example, can be hot spots to scoop up lots of points.
  • Quizzes & trivia – You can have a big screen or presenter ask questions which can be answered by device app. Winners might even be displayed on a leaderboard to encourage competition. This can be a great way to drive home your brand message.
  • Voting – Every contest can be gamified. You might ask guests to decide the winner of a debate, or maybe even give them a say in how your event unfolds. For example, offer them the chance to decide what video shows up next on the big screen or have them vote on who took the best event selfie.
  • Virtual realityThese headsets are beginning to become commonplace. You may consider setting up a booth that takes attendees on a VR adventure featuring your brand in a central role.

Here are some top scavenger hunt, game and quiz app sites to try: Eventzee, CrowdCompass, EventMobi, Qzzr, QuizRevolution.

One tip for implementing gamification into your own event: announce leaders and winners. We mentioned this before, but it deserves repeating. When people see their name or face on the screen, it makes them feel like a part of the action. If you can get them to associate their name with your brand, you have a winner.

Applying Games to Your Event

As mentioned, your venue and event personality should be considered when deciding upon the game type. Still, don’t underestimate the power of games to leave a lasting impression. You might think a bunch of professionals won’t enjoy a scavenger hunt, but just watch how their competitive nature gets them involved.

One example of great event gamification was the 2013 PAX Prime event, a gaming festival at which Doritos and Mountain Dew teamed up to present some gamified fun. The QR code scavenger hunt they held wasn’t limited just to the venue itself, but included Seattle landmarks, as well. To generate extra excitement, PAX Prime capped things off with a live auction to win an as-yet-unreleased XBOX One entertainment system. Overall, this event attracted 6,500 game players and 1,500 event attendees, and a whopping 4.5 million media impressions were generated. That’s one way to leverage a game to increase brand recognition!

You might consider making your entire event a game or contest rather than an addendum to an existing event, as Prudential Financial did with their 2015 “Race for Retirement” in Washington, DC.  At this event, attendees were challenged to complete a 4.01 kilometer race and make a pledge to save for retirement, at which point they would be entered into a drawing for a $500 UnderArmour shopping spree.  By incentivizing the desired action and providing prizes at the finish line, the brand saw major participation in their event – and got an ad campaign out of it, to boot.

The Bottom Line

Games play an important role in today’s culture. Many adults grew up with games, and we understand their significance beyond simple entertainment. Tap into gamification and bolster your event appeal like never before.

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