How to use Gamification at your event

Gamification is one of ‘those’ words, a buzzword used around events that can make you feel like you are missing something, but you don’t really understand how it is going to work for you.

Author: Buz Ross   |   Date: 26th November 2018

Maybe we can help with our introduction to getting gamification to work for your event!

What is Gamification?

Don’t worry if you don’t really understand what it is or what it is about; all you need to know is it is the application of game design elements and game principles in non-game contexts.

Still not sure? Let’s break it down a bit more; Gamification techniques are used to encourage people to learn, explore, socialise, and engage by using the situation or framing of a game to achieve this.

In its most basic form, it can be as simple as getting a person to complete a task to get a reward, such as a money off voucher, to working together within a group to win a team or community prize.

It’s all about making things fun, engaging and ensuring that people take part when otherwise they might either ignore, walk away or just watch other people.

The reason it works when successfully implemented is that when people play games of any sort, from video to board games, they become more focused, they are more likely to trust their team members and build co-operation, they encourage people to continue if they initially fail and they are likely to become inspired and share the experience.

At its very best gamification can make your event more inclusive, build teams and communities, with people enjoying it at the same time.

How can you make this work for your event?

Is this going to work for your event? Firstly, what do you what to achieve, what is on your list?

  • Do you want to improve engagement and participation amongst your attendees?
  • Do you want to relax your guests and create a unique atmosphere?
  • Do you want to take your attendees from being reactive to proactive?
  • Do you want to improve communication amongst your attendees?

If it’s yes to any of those, and more, then using gamification will work for you, but avoid the temptation to use it because you think it’s what’s expected.

If you have a simpler event, where you are communicating information and ideas, but without a requirement for feedback, then gamification is less suitable and may become more of a distraction than an assistance at your event.

Who is going to play?

Do you think your audience will be on board with your ideas? Don’t make any assumptions about a younger audience being more suitable. Research completed in 2017 states the average age of a video-gamer is 35, so your assumptions could lead you astray.

The gender divide is very even too and, most interestingly, 54% of frequent gamers saying that they use gaming to keep in contact with their friends.

As time goes on the traditional demographics of your audience will become less important, so it is more important that you choose the most applicable gamification for them and your event.

Curiosity can also be a big driver for getting people to jump in and take part; something that is new or different, or something that triggers a memory can help encourage people to take part, with technology-based games from VR to retro games, think about how you are going to engage people.

Recently while in conversation it emerged that someone who I thought had no interest in playing video games used a racing car simulator because it gave her the chance to try something different and new, so think about what will drive your attendees to take part.

Influencing and getting a result

Gamification is all about influencing your attendees, getting them to achieve a result and in turn create a result for you.

What result do you want? Tying directly into the first question about what you want to achieve, you need to create a situation which will give you your result or achievement. It might be a specific result/outcome, or it could be more of an experience and emotional based result, for example, you might want to develop a feel-good atmosphere at the event.

With influencing your guests, choosing the right method of gamification and reward associated with it is important; if this is right, results will follow.

These influences can tie into other elements of the event such as a theme, venue or if you are using an audience response system.

How do I create the right game for my event?

This is where the fun starts, on every level!

You know what result you want to achieve, now to design the method to get there. If we look at this quite literally you can see how easy it is to use gamification to explore and develop your event with the audience in mind.

You’re running an event at a new conference centre, the event is to launch the site, plus launch the business park next to it. You need people to engage with the whole complex, which is both large and complicated in its layout, but why would they explore if they can stand around, eat canapes and drink complimentary fizz?

Different gamification options can easily be created about this requirement;

Physical Treasure Hunt – Pros – get people interacting and discussing where to go next, Cons – could take too long, and people may not explore as much as you want

VR Treasure Hunt – Pros – people don’t need to leave the comfort of the main area, Cons – not as social, needs many headsets to get as many people involved as possible

AR App – Pros – competitive, like Pokémon Go people must collect an item before someone else gets there first, could be used after the event too to market the Centre and park, Cons – need the app, need to keep updating the number of collectable items, depending on super keen participants

Board game – Pros – low tech, simple to understand and use, sit down and get comfy playing it, Cons – perhaps not stimulating or challenging enough, harder to build in rewards.

One problem, four potential solutions, varying costs and technology required; all would engage many of your guests and reward them for their involvement. The reward for you would be engagement and feedback. Another dynamic that you could add to this would involve businesses within the business park and get them to work as teams, or supply rewards as sponsors for the solution chosen. By doing this you are increasing their profile and enabling them to reach a wider audience.

As you can see you there will always be solutions to fit your event.

Other methods include using voting, which we’ve covered in our post on engaging your audiences using Audience Response Systems. You can create a real buzz with this, and get everyone quickly and easily involved. Using this system, you can also create icebreakers and encourage social interaction between people who have never previously met, which is always a difficult nut to crack.

You can also encourage remote gamification which could tie into live streaming and social media.

If you have built a large social media following and will be using live streaming at your event, consider how you could tie this in at your event. You could have a voting system on Facebook or Twitter which allows people to directly control something that they can then see happen at the event via the live streaming. For example, people get to vote on a confetti cannon being set-off, or for an award to be given to a person at the event. By involving these two elements you are extending the experience beyond the walls of the event immediately rather than waiting until after the event to have the experience shared.

As you can see Gamification can bring so much more to your event than just a buzzword or experiment to tick off your list, it can influence and inspire, engage and reward, and most importantly make your event a success.

Why not get in touch and see how we can help?

We’d love to have a chat with you about your next event or project, give us a call on 01962 870408, or click to fill in our contact form

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