Go Ahead, Play Games!

Nearly ten years ago, Nintendo released the Wii Fit—a system that used the draw of gaming to compel people to get off the couch and exercise. Last year, Pokémon Go—a system that encourages getting out of the house and exploring your town—broke Apple’s all-time record for highest number of app downloads. Both are highly successful examples of gamification: the adoption of game design elements in everyday tasks and activities.

Gamification is powerful for two major reasons: it caters to people’s innate desire for rewards, and it makes otherwise repetitive or mundane activities more fun. Exercise feels less like a task when you’re competing against your friends for the top score, and homework becomes less of a chore when you get a prize for the most correct answers. Gamification inspires excitement and engagement, two elements that are prized in the event marketing industry.

In its Gamification 2020 report, Gartner predicts that “gamification will be an essential element for brands and retailers to drive customer marketing and loyalty.” Gamification drives interest in events and creates excitement among participants. It encourages conversation and collaboration, increasing event networking opportunities. When executed correctly, gamification can also generate engagement, drive leads, and increase profits.

Examples of Gamification in Event Marketing

Consider these examples of gamification when planning your next event to amplify engagement and promote a fun, collaborative atmosphere:

Scavenger Hunts

Host a scavenger hunt that requires gathering items or information from exhibitor booths and presentations. Event attendees benefit because they’ll inevitably end up collaborating, forming new networking connections. Exhibitors and presenters benefit from increased traffic driven by the scavenger hunt. Organizers benefit because everyone else does—higher booth traffic and happier participants are likely to increase sales for future events.

Make it fully integrated. Mobile apps that integrate with beacon technology provide the perfect ‘seek’ and ‘gather’ component to get people moving with location-based triggers and treasures.

Trivia Competitions

Host a trivia competition throughout your event by embedding questions into a variety of event materials and sessions. Trivia questions can be inserted into distributed content, asked by presenters during sessions, and showcased in important exhibitor booths and displays. This drives attendees to your most impactful presentations and displays, increases traffic to participating exhibitor booths, and motivates attendees with the promise of rewards.

Take digital signage for example. You can buy questions or even answers in multimedia ways like digital signage to encourage attendees to properly ingress and egress through different locations at your venue. Plus it becomes a visually impressive, all-inclusive, digital experience from screen to screen, sign to app.

Titles and Prizes

Offer titles and prizes to participants to increase participation and engagement. For example, award an “Insatiable Curiosity” prize to the person who attended the most sessions, a “Fierce Collector” prize to the person who collected the most stamps from booths, or a “Social Champion” prize to the person who posted the most social media updates using the event hashtag.

Today’s mobile-first event and meeting experiences enhance this capability more than ever with real-time metrics that enable you to define and track specific thresholds for engagement and provide rewards based on those outcomes.

Effective Event Gamification

Gamification benefits all event participants—organizers, presenters, exhibitors, and attendees. However, gamification isn’t a magic bullet; it must be executed strategically to drive engagement. In an article in Entrepreneur, Dustin DiTommaso—Experience Design Director at Mad*Pow—recommends asking the following questions when planning for event gamification:

  • What is the reason for gamifying your product or service?

  • How does it benefit users?

  • Will they enjoy it?

  • What are your business goals?

  • How do you get users to fulfill those business goals?

  • What actions do you want users to take?

Effective event gamification must benefit participants in some way. For example, a nominal prize should be offered to all game participants—even those that did not win the game—to keep participants from feeling they wasted their time playing. Conversely, if the game is fun or promotes collaboration—enabling participants to network more effectively—the experience can be a prize of its own.

For event presenters, organizers, and exhibitors, gamification must drive toward business goals. Focus on developing games that will result in increased leads, awareness, or social exposure for the businesses and speakers involved. Gamification can lead to more active participants, but be sure to have a way to measure engagement. Polls asking if people enjoyed the game can be effective, as can analytics on the number of visits to participating booths or displays.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.” - Pierre de Coubertin

Gamifying for Increased Engagement

In 2015, Cisco implemented gamification in its annual Cisco Live event. They targeted developers, striving to drive more enrollments and participation on their DevNet Community and website. Participants could view their place in competitions via an on-site leaderboard, and the winner was awarded a $10,000 prize.

The results were powerful. Cisco’s DevNet site saw a 350% increase in enrollments over their weekly average, a 259% increase in page views, and a 30% increase in active users. According to the company’s blog: “We made sure we could track the success of our gamification project. The numbers speak loud and clear. Gamification drives engagement [and] motivates users to change behaviors, develop their skills, achieve goals and thus drive innovation.”

With strategic, goal-driven planning, gamification can expedite goals, benefit all participants, and drive interest in future events. Start by defining the goals that gamification can aid with at your event, and then form a plan of action for utilizing the power of gaming to amplify engagement at your next event. So… get out there, participate!