15 Game and Gamification Ideas to Boost Engagement at Your Virtual Event


3 August 2020

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In our previous article, “Gaming & Engagement Techniques for Virtual Events” we reviewed best practice approaches to improving engagement with your audience through your virtual event. Here we list 15 specific gamification ideas that could give your virtual event a boost. 

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By Lucy James (Event Marketing Manager at Synesthesia) and Marco Mazzaglia (Video Game Evangelist at Synesthesia).

In our previous article, “Gaming & Engagement Techniques for Virtual Events” we reviewed best practice approaches to improving engagement with your audience through your virtual event. Here we list 15 specific gamification ideas that could give your virtual event a boost

1) Interact to win points

In a virtual event, just as a live event, there is a difference in an attendee who just ‘checks in’ to an exhibition booth, and an attendee who stops, enquires and listens. For a virtual event this requires a digital platform or meeting space for the two parties to meet. You can encourage attendees to participate in these meetings by linking the action to a reward, i.e. ten points towards their overall game score. To ensure maximum sponsor/ exhibitor satisfaction, you could take this a step further and the sponsor shares a code (to collect the ten points / prize) only if they feel the participant genuinely engaged in the meeting. 

2) Punctuality means prizes

Late attendance creates less of a disturbance in virtual events but of course it’s still better to avoid it and kick off the session with a ‘full’ room. Encourage prompt attendance by displaying a code/ keyword/ next clue on scavenger hunt for 60 seconds prior to the session starting. Those who are there and paying attention are rewarded for their punctuality

3) Social rewards 

Sharing on social networks offers its own oxytocin benefits, but make sure your attendees are even further persuaded to share updates from the virtual event by linking social performance to rewards from the event. This could include ‘x’ number of points for every post with the correct hashtag, or a mega prize for the most re-shared post.

4) Feedback that counts

It’s always important to gather user feedback on speakers and content. In virtual events, with your audience already online, it’s slightly easier to present them with a simple survey, form or poll to complete at the end of the session. Push to gain the most feedback possible by sharing a code/ keyword/ next clue on scavenger hunt, with any participant that completes the survey.

5) Team power

You can encourage participants to work in teams on a game, particularly a quiz, trivia or ‘hunt’ of any kind. The advantage of designing a game for teams is that you achieve the cumulative effect of the whole team engaging, in whichever way you are encouraging them to do so. 

6) Personalised badges or trophies 

One of the fundamentals to creating an engaging game (as covered in our previous article) is to understand the behavioural habits and impulses of your target audience, and this is extremely important in relation to personalised badges. Generally speaking, people like to collect ‘sets’. Badge sets at a virtual event can be linked to different stimuli including: the topic, e.g. a different badge for every session attended; the event features, e.g. a different badge for participating in a workshop, meeting, attending a booth etc; the event attendees themselves, e.g. each participant is given their own badge as part of their registration and they can ‘swap’ badges with other attendees to achieve a set. 

7) Interact with enthusiasm

Avoid the deafening silence of no one asking questions at the end of the sessions by incentivising participants. Options could include: an outstanding prize for the ‘best’ question asked throughout the whole event; ‘x’ number of points awarded for every question posted on the event q&a board; questions could be randomly or specifically selected to be featured in a post event report – give your attendees a chance for their 5 minutes of fame! 

8) Check in to exhibitor booths

Some exhibitors participate in virtual events with one goal in mind: hard out lead generation. Just like the exhibition hall passport, a game element – always centred around attaining points, prizes or recognition – will encourage attendees to click, connect and share their contact details with the exhibitor.

9) Visual stimuli 

A leader board is a simple and classic way to engage participants in a game; they experience the social satisfaction of their name being seen as a winner by their peers and colleagues. You could also try to think of more creative visual stimuli, such as an image that is gradually revealed (e.g. one pixel for every tweet) or a graphic, like a tree, that gradually grows (e.g. one branch for every question posed in a session). This taps into the group psychology of working together; it takes everyone to contribute to achieve the benefit for all. 

10) Crowdsource your content 

Use polls, notifications, surveys or forms to gain feedback from the participants on future topic or speaker ideas. Very often people do not require additional incentive to contribute to something that they care about – their industry or profession, and an event that reflects their needs and wants is also in their interest! But don’t leave it to chance, provide a bonus for completing the feedback to max out your engagement.

11) Exhibitors can raise the game

Wherever possible, exhibitors should be encouraged to build gaming into their virtual exhibition space. Is there a way that users can test their product or solution as a game, perhaps as a competition between users? Can they ask a series of trivia questions or puzzles to each visitor to their ‘booth’? We’ve all seen the effects at a live event: a magician or pinball machine at a stand, a great prize giveaway, and participants are flocking. The impact is the same in the virtual event space and sponsors should be persuaded to think creatively about how to present themselves and their services.

12) Public shout out

Really tap into the desire for public recognition by giving public shout outs to those who complete a game stage, win a game. Recognition is a key motivator for most people and will drive participation and engagement.

13) Photo contests

There are two different types of photo contest: the first is a quiz that requires the participants to figure out what the picture is of, the second requires the participants to take and share photos to qualify for a prize of some sort. For the quiz, this could be random, or connected to the event topic, or the whole round could be photos of the speakers or images of the sponsor logos. The photo taking competition can also be tied specifically to activities during the event, e.g. take a photo of you completing one of the workshop tasks, or tied to social media, e.g. a selfie with the event hashtag, or as barrier-free as possible, e.g. take a photo of where you are in the world today. 

14) Digital scavenger and treasure hunts

In a scavenger hunt, participants have to ‘collect’ certain items to qualify for a prize. In a treasure hunt participants are led from one place to another by clues, finally arriving at the end to qualify for a prize. Both of these formats work for virtual events, with digital clues, ‘places’ and items to be collected. Both of these formats are excellent when organised for teams, which means that if, for example, your fourth clue is to attend the keynote speaker and take a screenshot of the opening slide, you drive attendance from the whole team. 

15) Classic icebreakers 

Icebreaking can be just as valuable online as in real life, and it can be as simple as participants sharing their location, current project, favourite hobby/ book/ food, in a chat bar on the event platform. As ever, tie the action to a reward and ensure that the action is driving towards your event goals. If it’s critical that your virtual event provides participants with opportunities to connect and build their network, then icebreaking is important. If your goals are aligned to learning, sponsor satisfaction or brand building, then an icebreaker won’t help meet your event success criteria. 

Games are a great way to build engagement throughout your virtual event, helping you achieve your end goals and delivering a high quality attendee experience. Have fun creating, brainstorming and building a game that works for your attendees. 

If you have any questions or feedback, write to us. We will be happy to read your requests or your opinions.

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