Article by Dan McCarthy (event specialist)
Gamification – what an interesting term, right? It involves gamifying something. In this case, it’s your events that need to be gamified. But what does that really mean? Are we supposed to let our employees and attendees play games? Is that the way to better results and bigger numbers? Well, not exactly. Don’t be fooled and think that you don’t need gamification, every company out there does, every event manager needs to learn ins-and-outs of gamification. So, if this all sounds new to you, take a look below and introduce yourself to event gamification.
What is gamification?
As it was mentioned, gamification doesn’t mean playing or gaming at work or at an event. It’s not exactly like that. This term rather revolves around game mechanisms. These include completion bars, challenges, points, badges, etc. Everything that will provide individuals with some satisfaction after successfully completing a task of some kind. For example, you host an event and the attendee who tweets most about it or visits every booth gets some kind of reward. Gamification creates competitiveness and stimulates attendees (or your own workers). The whole concept is there to stimulate behavioral change. And that change is usually beneficial to your company. That’s the aim. Humans like collecting points, humans like completing tasks, humans like to compete. In return, when we do, we love all the recognition and feedback we get. They come with any gamification implementation. Don’t you like to be on top of the leader board?
Gamification at an event
You already know that best events combine business with fun. And event managers and marketers have been doing that for some time now. Even those awkward introduction games count as gamification. You know, for example, there is that one game where every attendee gets to say hi to everyone and talk about the spiritual animal (the animal that represents that person the most). Here you start to realize that games and events have been there, intertwined, for a long time now. The goal of these introductory games is simple – act as a social lube and make it easy for people to network and mingle at your event. An even better example of the power of event gamification is foursquare. That app was really popular back in the day and we all remember the ‘check-in’ feature. When people check in they get points, badges and there is a leader board. Of course, the individual with most check-ins at a certain location becomes ‘mayor’. People loved this.
Why it is good for networking
Many attendees at events come mainly for networking. Some companies send their employees to network at other companies’ events. That’s perfectly normal. Every serious business wants their people to interact with industry greats, influencers, business partners and potential prospects. That’s the gist of networking. And even though it may sound easy now, executing networking isn’t easy at all. Approaching other people can be seriously challenging, not everyone is sociable and cheerful. However, not making new contacts that could be potentially valuable is bad for business. That’s why it is important. However, thanks to gamification, networking can be easy since it creates an environment that simply stimulates interaction. It is really easy to communicate, it is easy to approach someone and break down barriers if it’s fun. For example, there are event apps where you can see guests, you can check them out and see whether your interests align with interests of other people. Then, if you find a ‘match’ you can start looking for that person and connect.
Many still doubt whether gamification is effective or not. Reasonable doubt, but consider this. It will only work if it makes sense. Meaningful activity will spark interest, not a senseless collection of points and badges. If you intend on implementing this into your events, bear in mind that you have to give ‘players’ a sense of autonomy and in the end provide an intrinsic reward and not an extrinsic one. Remember what the goal of the event is and then tailor the games according to that. Scavenger hunt for the new iPhone won’t help spread the word about your new offering. Remember that! It has to be meaningful and beneficial both to your audience and your company.
Define your goals and then gamify. Don’t forget to do that. It has to make sense both for you and your audience in order for it to work. And once you get the hang of it, it becomes a powerful tool.