The events game

Casey Campbell, Managing Director, North America, at Gameloft, considers how events can benefit from adding an element of gamification.

Since the world went into lockdown, many people are spending a lot of time attending virtual events. With no travel involved, it’s easier to commit to attending an event, knowing that if it runs for an hour, or two hours, that’s exactly the amount of time you need to block out in your diary. Soon as it’s over, you can get back to your To Do list. In fact, according to a June 2020 study carried out by The 614 Group, 51 per cent of marketing professionals believe that even live gatherings will likely continue to have a virtual element post-pandemic.

The range of events going virtual is extensive, and includes major conferences such as SXSW, Comic-Con, Cannes Lions, E3, Gamescom, as well as countless other smaller conferences and internal B2B events. And it’s not just conferences: concerts, museum exhibits, graduation ceremonies, college classes and a whole host of other, traditionally ‘physical’ events, have gone virtual.

But if you’re running events, whether they’re small, internal events for your own teams, or large virtual trade shows or conferences with thousands of people attending over several days, or anything between these two extremes, how can you ensure that your attendees are fully engaged and committed to the event? Over the past few years, many organizations have found that gamification can help.

New levels of gamification
When you think of running an event, gamification is not perhaps the first thing that comes to mind. The event and speaker key messages and takeaways are clear for everyone to see and hear, but at a closer look, you’ll see that elements of gamification have always been part of events. Though we’re more familiar with small actions, like putting your business card in a bowl for a draw prize, gamification can go well beyond that. Now, with the emerging popularity of virtual events, gamification can go to a whole new level – integrating at every level to engage attendees and support organization objectives. In fact, humans are hard-wired to enjoy competition. Games are an integral part of our culture and one of the oldest forms of social interaction, and adding gamification to an event is a perfectly natural and desirable thing to do.

So what does event gamification look like in the wild? It can take many forms, and will differ depending on the type of event and the organizer’s objectives. Virtual events open up the event to everyone, from anywhere. It can be far-reaching, so events can have a large audience, and that’s why gamification is important – it helps drive interaction and is able to quantify actions.

You can set goals and objectives for the attendees, such as interacting with the event sponsors, or sharing their experiences of the event on social media. As they hit each of these goals, you can reward them with extrinsic or intrinsic prizes, so on one hand, gifts and vouchers, or on the other, money-can’t buy type rewards, such as a Meet & Greet with the keynote speaker, or access to exclusive content, for example.

Public leaderboards
For B2B events, think of things like public leaderboards, where an attendee’s rank increases, the more he or she engages with the event. Not only does this give attendees a sense of achievement and belonging to the event; a high final ranking is also something they can take back to their workplace and share with their colleagues and their boss to make the point that the time they blocked out to attend the event was time well spent.

Above all, remember that the gamification elements are not there to compete with, or distract attendees’ focus on, the event. They are an integral part of the event, there to support its success and provide a framework in which the attendees and the speakers can get more from the event than they might if the gamification elements were not present.
In addition, the interactions, missions, or however you frame them, all result in quantifiable data for the organizer. This data enables them to see which initiatives attendees completed, liked or disliked, enabling them to optimize the gamification elements around the most popular activities and rewards. You can even leverage gamified surveys to get valuable feedback.

In the 20 years we’ve been in business, we’ve learned a lot about the psychology of games. We know that people like playing games, completing tasks, feeling successful and being rewarded for their achievements. Recognizing this, and introducing a gamification element to your events can have a transformative effect.

If you’d like to find out more about how Gameloft can help you gamify your events, you can email me at