Whether it’s checkers or Call of Duty, people by nature love games. It’s no surprise, then, that the gamification market has erupted, expecting to become a $5.5 billion industry by 2018. With such a lucrative market, it’s no wonder gamification has become such an integral part of event management.
Event Gamification Defined
There is a common notion that event gamification is limited to apps and interactive kiosks. Gamification is actually much broader and also includes non-digital forms of games. In fact, gamification has been around for about as long as companies have been holding public events. When you see a tabletop roulette table at a tradeshow booth, that is gamification, albeit in a simpler format.
Of course, nowadays, more companies are investing in event apps where attendees can download games, compete online, rack up points, and collect digital badges and trophies. This gives players an incentive to continue playing and engage with the brand.
Gamification Should Not Be the Selling Point
Gamification should be treated as an add-on and should not be the event’s primary element. The main focus should be the presentations, workshops, exhibits, and networking. Games are merely an add-on for bringing about that fun factor. Combining fun with business has always been a surefire way to earn a positive event reception. Treat it as a supplemental aid and not the focal point.
Modern Gamification Methodologies
As mentioned, games are often incorporated into the business part of the event. Companies have developed various strategies for branding through the power of play.
Ads in Games
This usually includes ads that pop up between rounds in a game app. It may also include ads that permanently appear on the side of the screen during play. Other times, ads may appear more subtly in the background. An example may be the in-game avatar wearing attire bearing the brand logo.
Successful completion of an in-game objective includes company-related prizes. A clever example is this scenario from the beverage company Pago Granini. In this video, participants stepped on a motion tracking platform where they control the movement of a Pago Granini bottle to catch falling fruit. If successfully completed, users were awarded with a code that they enter next to an adjacent vending machine for a free bottle of Pago Granini.
As mentioned, modern gamification methods allow players to rack up points. The points can be used to unlock new levels or challenges. Some of the unlockables, however, can only be accessed if event attendees perform a specific action desirable to the company. This may include submitting your email for the company newsletter or signing up for the sponsor’s trial service.
In all the above examples, it’s usually apparent to the gamer that the intent is to push the brand. However, this will not dissuade most people if the game provides ample entertainment value.
Gamification for Pre-Event Campaigns
Social media is the go-to source for outreach of any sorts. Gamification can amplify your social media presence for promoting an event. The game can include unlockable items for certain social media actions, such as liking the event Facebook page, using the event hashtag, or participating in a social media contest.
Due to unlockable content, games have good longevity and replay value. A single game can be used starting from the pre-event campaign all the way to the post-event follow-up.
Gamification Itself Doesn’t Have to Be a Game
Gamification doesn’t even have to be a game in the strictest sense. The Nike app Nike Plus incorporates gamification in a somewhat more loosely manner. The fitness app keeps track of total calories burned, miles walked, and other fitness goals. Results can be shared online, and there are features allowing users to set a goal and challenge other Nike Plus users to a competition. Digital trophies are rewarded to those who achieve top scores.
Creating live fitness challenges isn’t necessarily a game per se, but it promotes competition and networking, which is a primary goal of gamification.
Gamification is a driving force in the modern event management sector. It provides a time-proven method for driving engagement and offers endless strategies for achieving brand recognition.
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 6 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, he shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.