Gamification at events

November 25, 2016


Less sci-fi, more like wifi!

I think we've all heard the phrase “gamification” at some point this year. It seems to be the “in” thing and it seems like all the cool kids are doing it. I aim to bust some myths and make it seem more reachable. You don’t need to be a ‘gamer’ to be able to understand games, or how and why they work. You just need to have an open mind, a hint of creativity and a little knowledge never hurt anyone.


Less galactic, more fantastic

Firstly, what is gamification? Well, it’s not just having fun at work. It's equal parts game mechanics, engagement and fun. But we use it in a way to encourage behavioural change, by rewarding them for doings things 'correct'. We love to collect things, badges, points and much more. Add this by using a game narrative to enhance human motivators, and us mere mortals will relish the feedback and recognition. If you’re doing this at an event, you combine business with pleasure. It’s an instant ice-breaker with your attendees, and it will be the hot topic of conversation. Word of mouth and social coverage is priceless. Tap into the power of 'FOMO'. It will boost your sponsor value too.

Secondly, I hear you cry; “How do I do it?” Don’t just gamify an event for the sake of it. Before you jump, you need to look and you need to look hard. You need to know what your objectives are if you gamify your event and you need to know your KPI’S. The game itself needs to make sense, the mechanics need to feel natural and it needs to be well executed. If you’re going to do it, do it right and do it well. A little understanding goes a long way, the more genuine it feels, and the better it will do.

Let the games begin!

There are 2 types of gamification types in my opinion. They are on your stand, or off your stand. It’s either a mobile-app, or something social media related you push out before your event (or during) so your visitors can download it and interact with it (which I will call game-off!). Or, a game on your stand to entice people to physically get involved (which I will call game-on!)


Although you may feel this will put your visitors at an arms-length, the interaction is deeper than it would be. It promotes networking amongst attendees and yourself. It will create an unforgettable experience. It will also raise your event’s presence on social media. Here are some examples you could use to gamify your visitor experience, you can use more than one too;

  • Point system
    • Give your attendees reason to visit your stand. A point system is a good and easy way to creative some traction around your game. You can have a leader board either online, or at your stand, showing who’s on top and who the underdog is.
  • Scavenger hunt
    • Reward people to physically hunt down things. Whether it’s visiting stands, if you’ve hidden secret scan-able things around the event, finding certain people around the event and much more. Get the flow correct, make it enjoyable and people will hunt and scavenge for points and prizes!
  • Social media
    • You could do any of the above on social media. I’ve known websites to have hidden items on their website for people to try to find for prizes, points and much more.


If you’ve made something fun to do on your stand, the gossip and excitement will spread like wildfire. Pretty soon you will probably have people lining up on your stand to have a go. Fun is contagious!

  • VR (Virtual reality)
    • VR is one thing that makes everyone’s ear’s prick up whenever mentioned. Not only it is hot in the gaming industry right now, with the Oculus Rift having a commercial release soon, the Playstation VR is already out, the futuristic promising Microsoft Hololens, along with various mobile VR sets such as the HTC Vive, Sulon Q, Samsung Gear VR, LG 360 VR, Google Cardboard and many, many, many more. We have started to use it within events, is it a fad? I don’t think so. VR is going to be around for a very long time, this isn’t a 3D fad (that comes round every 20 years), this is the next step in immersive interactive experiences.
    • I’m not going to list what you can and can’t do with VR. The list would be endless, but equally there are no boundaries. But there are some things you need should know. Knowledge is power. I’m sure if you’ve read about when the Oculus Rift first came out, everyone was getting migraines and motion sickness – well yes that was the case if you were prone to either. But scientists and game developers have cracked the case. The culprit was that you… Couldn’t see your own nose. Scientists put it down to, in real life, you are able to see your nose 100% of the time, but our brains ignore it. In VR, it is no longer there to ignore. Consider it an anchor to the real world. So voilà!
  • AR (Augmented reality)
    • AR seems to be VR’s baby, less known, brother.  It’s still used a lot, I’ve even got an AR app on my phone – which I can make a dinosaur stomp about the office, make fairies fly around my head, or be part of an underwater scene. Even Pokémon GO! Uses an AR function. Snapchat seems to be the biggest AR user around. I’ve seen some really cool exhibition apps using AR functionality, it looks gimmicky but it’s stuck around and still gets great feedback. From virtual wardrobes, to testing out products, there's much more to AR then meets the eye. Engagement in disguise.
  • Physical games
    • These could be anything from the “hit-the-button test your reaction” type games, to a Jenga/Lego “build it” type, a “Q&A” game (which you can do some really cool things with) and I’ve even seen some people have musical games on their stand.

So, what should be your foundation to create your gamification idea? It can be anything and everything your heart desires. There are just a few simple things to keep in mind;

Make it simple. Make it fun. Make it human-proof. Make it work. 



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