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What is Gamification and How to Apply It in Events?

What is Gamification?

Gamification refers to a process of enhancing a service with affordances for gameful experiences in order to support user’s overall value creation. It refers to the practice of adding game-like elements and principles to contexts outside of games. In the context of corporate events, then, gamification means strategically incorporating game-like components into the event to enhance attendee experience and achieve the target outcomes. For example, you might incorporate competitions, points systems, rewards or prizes, or problem-solving tasks into some items on your event agenda, or to the event as a whole. But If gamification is designed solely to increase figures related to marketing instead of gameful experiences, the designers are in danger to fall into a trap that leads to a conflicting situation between selling and creating valuable experiences.

Does gamification require game development?

Contrary to what the name might suggest, ‘Gamification’ does not involve the development of games. It uses game mechanics and concepts to encourage and reward engagement. The objective is to reward and give a sense of accomplishment to the end user for dedicating time to a particular task. The term relates to the integration of game mechanics, dynamics, and thinking in non-game environments and activities to engage target audiences and change behaviors, encourage learning, and help innovation.

What is the aim of gamification?

The aim of gamification is to understand what drives people to play games and apply these factors in real life activities to drive behavior. The process begins with motivations, the aspect that influence people to want to interact, this produces an action which is then reinforced by rewards. By continually receiving rewards, players (users) gain a sense of achievement supports the initial motivations; this is called the ‘Engagement Loop’.

But the aim is not to transform the event in a game; the main objective is to make use of game tools to effectively increase attendee, staff, exhibitors, vendors, and sponsors engagement to create more fulfilling events. Event managers must first clearly recognize the event’s aims and objectives. The target audience must be classified; this allows event managers to identify the audience’s needs and expectations. This way, event managers may focus the gamified activity into motivating rewards and gather positive results for the event.

How to drive participants’ behaviors?

In order to drive participant behaviors, event managers must first decide which behaviors should be encouraged; justifying the need to fully understand the objectives of the event. Event managers may encourage attendees to perform tasks they consider priority like early registration, participating in discussions, problem solving, visiting exhibitors, networking, taking part in team-building exercises, accessing information, completing surveys, acquiring knowledge, or learning about company objectives.

What are the most common tools used for gamification?

The most common tools used for the purpose of motivating, rewarding and reinforcing behaviors are points, badges and scoreboards. However, gamification goes beyond this; in order to make a process more fun and engaging it is necessary to provide intrinsic value to participants.

What are the main objectives of implementing gamification?

The main objective of implementing gamification is to create a player-centric experience, designed specifically for the target audience. It is important to understand what are the player’s goals and motivations; goal fulfilment can be in itself a motivator and reward for certain behaviors. It is also important to understand business’ objectives clearly in order to match these objectives with the player’s goals; ensuring players’ goals overlap with business goals allows the initiative to drive users to perform the actions desired.

What are the main rewards in gamification?

We can divide rewards into four categories.

  • Self-esteem, is determined by feeling good about an accomplishment.
  • Fun, is the pure enjoyment out of the process of completing an action.
  • Social capital, is similar to self-esteem, however it is recognized by a social group.
  • Things are tangible or intangible rewards which provide a more extrinsic motivation.

How to apply gamification process?

Gamified processes can be applied in three different ways;

Changing behaviors: Playing games can help solve humanity’s biggest problems as it has a real impact on people’s behavior, actions, and thinking. There are a number of games that are used to change the way people think by playing games users experience a fictional reality; however, their decisions, actions, and lessons learned are brought with them as a new behavior into real life situations.Developing or learning skills and knowledge: ‘Fun’ and ‘learning’ can be used interchangeably, as mastering a subject in itself creates a feeling of accomplishment that allows the user to enjoy the experience. We can also add that, players may tackle the same ‘quest’ many times and fail; nevertheless, each time they improve their ability and become stronger and smarter. In real life repetition of the same task will increase players’ knowledge and skills gradually. Enabling innovation: In order to enable innovation, the game structure becomes more emergent and less scripted. The structure provides the goals, rules, tools, and playable space; however, players are free to explore, experiment, collaborate, and find their own solution to problems.

What are the benefits of gamification in events?

Games are highly absorbing and satisfying to players; a good game can make players engaged for long periods of time without the need for breaks. Games are highly engaging and its subconscious rewards can be used to make real life tasks more fulfilling.

Gamification and events

Gamification and events go hand in hand, when we consider the system of rewards, regardless if the event is offered to the public from internal or external environment, being called SAPS, which stands for: Status is the relative position of an individual in relation to his peers or strangers, in a defined ranking system. In games badges or levels can be awarded, but at events, the awards may consist of the best seats in the front rows or even backstage access. Access, for the audience, in the point of view of the events, can be the main issue if they are going to take part, or not, first of all depending on the location and the time when the event occurs. From the game point of view access can be granted very easily if the games are deployed via the internet, which is worldwide, the only restrain being a good connection. Organizations can reward the most deserving players by rewarding them with VIP treatment, or access to important meetings, or even allowing early and preferential discounts Power, which can be relatively given as long as the game designers allow it, is considered to be a great success, also as an honor for players provided, they take their roles very seriously, for example, granting them moderator or master features and in this way, they get greater power over the others players. As for the event organizers, they can grant power especially to the volunteers who are willing to take part in creating the show.

Stuff like giveaways, as clothes or gadgets, that are unique and produced in limited series, especially for the event and the game, can have great value and be highly appreciated by the participants. Although a consistent prize can be used to motivate a greater number of people to take part in the event, the same thing can be done for the game. Participants, tending to overvalue the benefits offered by the four incentives mentioned above, would make the organization benefit from it, especially if it can succeed to transform the non-players into players, and non-audience or indirect audience into direct audience, creating a memorable event combined with the perfect game, this means that its marketing objectives have been met.

The value of the prize

One of the problems that arises when implementing and developing gamification strategies is the value of the prize and also the number of the prizes that will be offered to the players. The terms and the rules that are going to drive the game, are essential, as more often than not players might lose interest if the chance of winning the prize is less probable. It is advisable that the organizers should offer to all the participants, no matter if they are the winners or not, at least some giveaway products, like T-shirts, hats, items of clothing, in general, with the company logo, and the event name so that the discomfort will be very unlikely to appear, so the participants might conclude that they did not waste time and gain nothing.

The timing of gamification

Ensuring the game is quick to understand and easy to play provides a more enjoyable experience. However, timing is the key separating a well implemented gamification technique from unwanted distractions from the event itself; make sure the game is contained in areas and schedules that do not clash with main activities avoid creating undesired disruptions.

Gamification and event apps

New technologies allow event managers to design their own event app, allowing he delivery of content that engage attendees via mobile platforms. This customization makes it faster and more affordable to have an event app than creating an app from scratch. Apps can even facilitate the implementation of gamification in events. Event managers can make use of gamification techniques to achieve greater attendance, incentive networking, and promote education and participation. Attendees can accumulate points for using the app, connecting with other attendees, ‘check-in’ in activities or exhibit booths, sharing content and pictures, and completing quizzes and surveys. To motivate attendees to visit sponsor’s booths and other locations, event managers can create games that encourage attendees to do so. Using event apps also allows for instant feedback on gamified initiatives, allowing event managers to understand what works and what does not. Event apps can be a good source of advertisement previous to the event as well. Speakers may create a video preview of their presentations, blog posts may share relevant information with users, exhibitors may present product information, it is a media for sponsor’s advertising, the event’s agenda can be made available earlier than normal, and any background information can be made available; as well as any games and competitions advertised in advance.

Conclusion

Gamification is a relatively new trend that aims to improve engagement by mimicking game techniques in non-game situations. In the case of corporate events, technology has allowed for many innovations to take place, including event apps containing all event and networking information. Being connected to social media, allow news and discussions to be shared easily between stakeholders improving the event’s awareness. Event apps also make it easier for event managers to implement gamified features to their events, having customized features available. It was seen that the most important aspect to take into consideration when implementing gamification to an event is attendees’ goals and objectives. By knowing what attendees expect from the event, event managers can make use of gamification to encourage the desired behaviors rewarding attendees with relevant incentives to pursue event’s aims and objectives.

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