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It's not a game! How to apply Gamification in virtual events for better engagement


The pandemic signified the arrival of large-scale catastrophes that no one could have anticipated. Yes, hybrid event models have existed in the past, and many experts have speculated on the future of virtual events, but Covid-19 accelerated the drive for meeting planners to think quickly and adapt to survive. Major advancements in the workplace resulted from pandemic-era upheaval, with hybridization of work becoming a permanent part of global business. 

Events and meetings have adapted to this tectonic shift as well, combining virtual and in-person elements to create a completely new experience via virtual event hosting. But, when some attendees are distant and others are in person, how do meetings sustain the importance of in-person connections?

The solution could be to gamify the virtual meeting area to replicate some of the spontaneity and excitement of in-person-only events. Companies and conferences are resorting to enormous virtual games to break up the monotony and give a natural place for participants to bond as we go into the future of the hybrid workplace. My company decided to create a completely new solution for hybrid meetings and events after watching these trends emerge in real-time. 

We recognized a gap in the market for a hybrid event platform that combines multiplayer gaming with virtual gatherings. We knew the psychological benefits of introducing games into virtual team development from previous experience. We also understood that any hybrid event platform would need a place for attendees to build stronger ties, and games are the ideal method to do it.

The process of introducing game elements to an event by allowing participants to complete challenges in the app, collect points for each completed challenge, and see where they rank on a scoreboard is referred to as event app gamification. Challenges can be worth varying amounts of money, and individuals who win or participate in the game can earn prizes. It's a fun and different method to boost networking possibilities, sponsor engagement, session attendance, and the overall event experience. As gamification is becoming more widely available, every event will eventually include some form of event game. You may either pass up this opportunity to improve the event experience, or you can go all out now and truly stand out.

Steps to Leverage Event Gamification in Virtual Event

Step 1: Know Your Goals

Having an event game might help you achieve your main goal or several minor goals. It's critical to know exactly what you want to gain out of an event game so that problems don't seem insignificant. Challenges can improve the entire event experience by increasing sponsor engagement and survey participation. Here are some suggestions on what you could do in light of your objectives:

  • Sponsors and exhibitors should be given codes to give out during the sessions in which they are participating. Alternatively, they might share the code on social media; the choice is theirs!
  • Include easter eggs in the event app that will deliver codes to increase app usage.
  • Reward codes that are based on the number of successful connections to increase virtual networking.
  • At the end of surveys, provide to increase survey participation.

Step 2: Pick the Right Event Technology

The event app gamification features will differ depending on which event app software you use. Some games allow you to choose from a variety of pre-made challenge alternatives. Others provide users more control over the challenges, such as the ability to tailor them to specific sponsors or employees. Make sure the software you purchase can assist you in achieving your objectives.

Step 3: Determine your Event’s Scope

As the virtual event host, you'll want to customize the event game depending on the size of your event, how long it will last, and who will attend. Other questions that help you gauge event scopes would be:

  • Will the event game run for the whole event or for a specified time within the event?
  • How many challenges are needed to ensure continuing interest?
  • Is there enough online staff to support the game?

You don't want gamifying the event to be overpowering or uninspiring, therefore you'll need to know the game's team's capacity as well as the event's capabilities. When hosting an event online, you may be limited in terms of the number of admins or guests you can invite. Please keep this in mind.

Step 4: Write the Rules 

Attempting to play a game with no rules will only result in disappointment, cheating, and frustration. Instead, provide individuals simple, well-thought-out instructions so they can start playing right away. It's also a good idea to include prizes or rewards in the rules so that there's no misunderstanding about what's up for grabs if you win or participate in the game.

Step 5: Choose Prizes 

Prizes are an exciting aspect of winning any game, and event games are no exception. Use rewards to incentivize everyone to play the game, whether it's just providing event-wide acknowledgment (and maybe a tiny trophy) or giving the winner anything of monetary value. (Remember to offer to mail the prizes to the winners if they are physical rewards!)

Step 6: Promote the Game 

Aside from providing incentives for playing the game, ensuring that everyone is aware of it is an important component of encouraging participation. This can be accomplished by promoting the event on social media before and during the event, sending out push alerts, featuring it on the event website, and even having speakers mention it during their online sessions. Allow no one to feel as if they have missed out simply because they were unaware of the event game.

Step 7: Celebrate Who Wins

It may appear that after the event game is over and the winners walk away with their rewards, that's the end of it. Instead, come up with a fun method to honor the victors even after the event is gone. Virtual gatherings don't need to be dull! Gamification of event apps is one approach to keep the IRL part of events alive in any virtual event.

Tips to Apply Gamification and Boost Engagement for Virtual Events

1) Interact to win points

There is a distinction between an attendance who simply ‘checks in' to an exhibition booth and an attendee who pauses, inquires, and listens in a virtual event, just as there is in a real event. A digital platform or meeting location for the two parties to meet is required for a virtual event. You can motivate attendees to attend these sessions by associating their actions with a reward, such as ten points toward their overall game score. To ensure optimum sponsor/exhibitor satisfaction, go a step further and have the sponsor provide a code (to collect the ten points/award) only if they believe the participant is genuinely interested in the meeting.

2) Punctuality means prizes

Although late attendance causes less disruption in virtual events, it is still preferable to avoid it and start the session with a ‘full' room. Support prompt attendance by showing a code/keyword/next clue for 60 seconds before the start of the session on the scavenger hunt. Punctuality is rewarded for those who are present and paying attention.

3. Feedback that counts

It's critical to always collect user input on speakers and content. It's significantly easier to give a simple survey, form, or poll to complete at the end of a virtual event because your audience is already online. Encourage survey participants to provide as much feedback as possible by sharing a code/keyword/next clue on the treasure hunt with anyone who completes the survey.

4. Personalised badges or trophies 

Understanding the behavioral habits and inclinations of your target audience is one of the basics of designing an engaging game (as discussed in our previous post), and this is especially crucial when it comes to personalized badges. In general, people enjoy collecting ‘sets.' Badge sets at a virtual event can be linked to a variety of stimuli, including the topic, e.g. a different badge for each session attended; event features, e.g. a different badge for participating in a workshop, meeting, or visiting a booth, and the event attendees themselves, e.g. each participant is given their badge as part of their registration and they can ‘swap' badges with other attendees and the event attendees themselves.

5.  Visual stimuli 

A leader board is a simple and basic technique to engage game participants; they get the social satisfaction of seeing their name on the board as a winner among their peers and colleagues. You might also try to come up with more imaginative visual stimuli, such as an image that is progressively revealed (e.g. one pixel for each tweet) or a graphic that expands over time, such as a tree (e.g. one branch for each question asked at a session). This appeals to the group psychology of cooperating; everyone must contribute for the benefit of the community.

6. Crowdsource your content

To get feedback from the audience on a future topic or speaker suggestions, use polls, notifications, surveys, or forms. People rarely require additional motivation to contribute to something they care about, such as their industry or career, and an event that reflects their needs and desires is also in their best interests! But don't leave it up to luck; offer a reward for completing the survey to increase involvement.

7. Photo contests

There are two types of photo contests: one is a quiz in which participants must figure out what the photograph is of, and the other requires participants to take and share photos to qualify for a prize. This might be at random or related to the event theme, or the entire round could be made up of photos of the speakers or images of sponsor logos. The photo competition can also be tied to specific activities during the event, such as taking a photo of yourself completing one of the workshop tasks, or to social media, such as a selfie with the event hashtag, or to be as barrier-free as possible, such as taking a photo of where you are in the world right now.

8. Digital scavenger and treasure hunts

Participants in a scavenger hunt must ‘collect' particular items to win a prize. Participants in a treasure hunt are led from one location to the next by clues until arriving at the end to be eligible for a prize. Both forms are suitable for virtual events involving digital clues, ‘places,' and collectibles. Both models work well for teams, so if your fourth clue is to attend the keynote speaker and snap a screenshot of the opening slide, you'll have a lot of participation from the entire team.

9. Classic icebreakers 

Icebreaking can be as simple as attendees revealing their location, current project, favorite hobby/book/food in a chat bar on the event platform, and it can be just as beneficial online as it is in person. As always, link the action to a reward and make sure it contributes to your event objectives. Icebreaking is crucial if you want your virtual event to provide participants with the opportunity to connect and expand their network. An icebreaker will not help you satisfy your event success criteria if your goals include learning, sponsor satisfaction, or brand promotion.


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