Pictured: Sample Leaderboard from an INXPO Game on the INXPO Virtual Platform
Whether it’s becoming the mayor of your favorite restaurant on Foursquare or receiving the Barista Badge at Starbucks, gamification seems to be everywhere. Gamification can add value to events, whether they be physical, virtual or hybrid. Some recent blog postings bring this concept to the forefront.
First, Kevin Richardson authored a posting titled “Does Your Event Contain a Gaming Layer?” on Freeman’s “Face to Face with FREEMAN” blog. The following quote from Kevin’s post tells it all, “When we play games we are engaged like we are in few other social activities.”
Next, Tim Patterson wrote a posting on his Tradeshow Guy Blog titled “Is Foursquare the Next Killer App for Tradeshow Marketing?” I believe that Foursquare, along with other location based applications (e.g. Gowalla, SCVNGR and Loopt, to name a few) are indeed a killer app for events.
Let’s consider the benefits of gamification to virtual events:
Games are Participatory
During some moments of a virtual event, attendees “lean back” in their chair (e.g. viewing a PowerPoint-based webinar). Games force attendees to “lean forward” and actively participate in the experience. Passive attendance is transformed into passionate participation, as attendees actively engage with event content (e.g. the game). Games can make the experience more fun and engaging, resulting in higher satisfaction ratings from attendees.
Games Create Competition & Networking
Games can bring out the competitive spirit in all of us. I may not be a competitive person, but put me in a Trivia Pursuit contest with cousins, aunts and uncles and I want to win – badly. Similarly, stage a Trivia Challenge virtual event game, where groups of attendees compete in teams and again, I want to win – badly. Game-based competition results in more activity within the virtual event. And, another side effect is that team-based games generate networking and collaboration, which is always a good thing in any virtual event.
Games Foster Elevated Retention
I admit, this is not a scientific result (or claim), but my belief is that users can retain information more effectively in a game compared to listening to a 40 minute PowerPoint presentation. When viewing a presentation, your mind can wander quite a bit. In an engaging game experience, your mind doesn’t have the opportunity to wander.
Here are our thoughts on how to best gamify your next virtual event:
Content Must Be Contextual
While diversionary games are fine (and fun), it’s important that your game content be related to your event’s content and theme. For instance, if your event is on a technology topic, the trivia challenge questions should not be about baseball. Consider what learning or understanding you want attendees to walk away with – and weave that information into your games.
The Game “Layer” Should Be “Thin”
What I mean by this is – if you’re adding a game layer to your virtual event, don’t consider it a “layer”. Instead, integrate the game cohesively into the user experience. Users should play the game directly in the environment (not in a separate browser window) and navigating from the game to other areas of the event (and back) should be seamless. Games should not feel like a layer to the attendees.
Benefit of Teams
Allow attendees to participate both as individuals and in teams. As I mentioned, team-based gaming can foster heightened competition and generate networking, connections and collaboration. Consider the options for team creation – for a virtual trade show, you may want to allow teams to assemble on their own; whereas a virtual sales kick-off may require that team members be defined by sales management.
We’ve Got Game! Did you know that INXPO has a Games Library? We have a number of games that can be enabled in any virtual event on our platform. The games are “native” to the platform, which means that activity is tracked – and the activity data is available in our reporting portal. We believe gamification of virtual events can create a win/win/win scenario for event hosts, attendees and exhibitors.