Michelle Bruno asks a great question over at TSNN.
“What is it,” she writes, “that B2B event organizers are trying to hide?” She goes on to look at the reluctance of event planners to engage in something that can be perceived as an employee “joyride” and how gamefication of events and meetings can be used to enhance the objectives of stakeholders.
She goes on:
As affirming research piles up and the number of game options for events increases, tradeshow and conference organizers (corporate meeting planners are way ahead of these two groups on the game front) may soon be convinced that a game layer placed on top of an otherwise ho hum business event can yield amazing results.
We couldn’t agree more. A great interactive game can pave the way for better networking, better learning and better engagement with sponsors and vendors. Games do, however. need to be designed to fit the culture of the event’s attendees. What works for medical events might not be the same thing that works for travel and entertainment. When there’s a mismatch, games can quickly become an object of ridicule—more brand-damaging than positive.
Games Are Nothing New
Events have always include game-like elements. From scavenger hunts to contests and drawings to even entertaining surveys and audience polling, games have been around for a while—and yes, even before the internet. A member of SwiftMobile’s staff , for example, recalls planning an event in the 1980s which used Polaroid instant cameras for a scavenger hunt at a B2B event—with a real photo-sharing wall instead of a virtual one.
Lately there’s been a mad rush to add game sot mobile. Mobile technology can be used to support games, but the reality is that a mobile app isn’t necessary for successful games at events. While mobile can certainly facilitate game-like activities, it isn’t prima facie necessary—and it might even be a dis-incentive or reduce engagement.
Anyone can create an event scavenger hunt without mobile or any digital aspect to it at all. You can easily design a badge-earning game, for example, without any part of it relying on mobile devices. It’s not at all clear to us if mobile really does add value when it comes to gamefication. In fact, badly deployed, mobile can even reduce the excitement and interactivity of a game by making it dull, or if usability is poor, too hard to understand.
What mobile can do well is quantify participation and that sure is something. If you’re thinking about games, be sure to ask for engagement metrics. But mobile can’t necessarily qualify participation. Numbers alone don’t tell you how enjoyable people found the game—or how annoying it was to be around colleagues more focused on earning a badge than having a conversation.
We shouldn’t forget that events are live—with real people, real products and real learning. Mobile and other technology can add excitement, convenience and support—but it can’t be the ONLY experience.
We’d say, in fact, far better to spend extra resources on developing something really creative, interactive and engaging before “mobilizing” it. Mobile is the icing, not the cake.
Photo by Sarah_Ackerman