Ever since the Pokémon Go craze saw the masses take to the streets in search of objects invisible to the naked eye, gamification has been a buzzword and go to trend for engagement, nowhere more so then in the worlds of marketing and events. Whilst we often discuss it in terms of a technological trend, in itself gamification is a concept. And it’s been on the scene for around 100 years, ever since our marketing forefathers latched onto the concept of incentive programmes to increase consumer loyalty.
Our technological advancements have allowed us to design and deliver a highly advanced and easily accessible form of gamification. But to use the concept to its full potential it is crucial to understand its guiding principles and how to align them with your own objectives. So what is gamification and how can it help deliver on your event goals?
Gamification is the process of applying the principles of game mechanics to non-game activities in order to encourage engagement and influence behaviour.
We may not realise it but game mechanics are familiar to us all. We have experienced them in one form or another since childhood. Elements such as points, rewards and levels have encouraged us to learn and to take part because they play on our inherent desire for status, recognition and achievement. These latter motivating factors are referred to as game dynamics and are the driving force behind our engagement with game mechanics.
Challenges, check-ins, quests, avatars, competitions, turns; the list of game mechanics is extensive. So to put the concept into perspective, let’s take a look at three of the most common and apply them to an event environment.
Levels indicate progress and appeal to our sense of accomplishment. They play a part in our everyday lives; levels of education, a promotion or pay rise, a step up on the property ladder; we all aspire to ‘level up’ as we progress through life.
When levels are applied to the gamification process, they serve as a motivator for users to continue their journey, achieving status as they complete and move on through various stages of play. Levels can be used to guide attendees through your event space in a specific pattern and to encourage them to participate in the event as a whole.
Points don’t always mean prizes. But whether they hold any actual value or not, they’re a great way to drive desired behaviour amongst your event attendees. People love to be rewarded and, in a gaming environment, points are the ultimate reward. By incentivising specific behavioural patterns, you can steer attendees through your preferred visitor experience, encourage them to actively seek out specific information and take part in certain activities. You can also leverage points, offering a higher level of reward for activities deemed more difficult or to require more effort.
To give them added value, points can be used to level up, exchanged for event VIP status allowing exclusive access or gifted to fellow attendees. The latter should increase retention, as users are drawn back into the gaming experience when gifted points from their fellow delegates.
Rankings & Leader boards:
The majority of us love to be recognised for our achievements. By incorporating rankings or the use of leader boards into you gamification approach, you are publicly acknowledging the success of your delegates and those that place in the higher rankings will gain a sense of pride and satisfaction. What’s more, you are appealing to our competitive nature and providing a motivator for your attendees to battle it out amongst themselves for poll position, ultimately increasing engagement with your event content.
Now we understand the concept, we can see that when we talk about gamification for events, we’re not talking about simple delegate entertainment. We’re talking about developing content in such a way that attendees feel more inclined to take part and engage. Through challenging and rewarding, you can encourage content consumption, increase retention and foster a deeper level of understanding.
Whilst it may not be suitable for all forms of content and delegate experience, gamification certainly has its place in the event landscape. And as our understanding of the concept develops in line with the technology that allows us to implement it, the benefits that gamification offers the events industry can only develop in their own right as well.
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