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Event Gamification

How do we encourage or discourage certain attendee behavior?

By: Richard Kim
Tags: event experience, gamification

The Chinese government is building an omnipotent 'social credit' system that is meant to rate each citizen's trustworthiness.

By 2020, everyone in China will be enrolled in a vast national database that compiles fiscal and government information , including minor traffic violations, and distils it into a single number ranking each citizen. BBC

China Social Credit Function: f(Your Social Life) = A Number Ranking Your Obedience

We are not here to debate the ethical implications of this policy (any dissent has already been scrubbed out from within the Great Firewall). However, we found fascinating both the problem the society was trying to solve and the solution that the society came up with: gamification.

Gamification as a buzzword has been evolving rapidly, bringing experts from the creative gaming industry and businessmen and policy makers together. ​In China's case, the question is "how do we incentivize good social behavior?"

In other words, how do we encourage the behavior we want?

Carrot and Stick Unremarkable tools for unremarkable results

The go-to response normally boils down to carrots-and-sticks. But a little bit of research quickly reveals that carrots-and-sticks without overall purpose is an uphill battle for anything beyond the most basic tasks. One of the most popular alternatives is also one of the most popular TED talks of all time: "The puzzle of motivation" by Dan Pink.

Dan Pink's research is mostly about long-term employees--how to keep employees motivated and energized for complex tasks. However, we can apply his research to keeping attendees motivated and excited throughout the course of an event.

I believe meeting planners and organizers have a good grasp on autonomy and purpose. We always see phrases like "This is YOUR event" or "Take your skills to the NEXT LEVEL". Attendees typically have a good idea about why they are at an event and that they are somewhat in control of what they see and who they interact with.

However, we remember a time when it was difficult to know whether we were making the best use of our time. Am I meeting the right people? Where should I be and when? Event planners may solve this problem with clever scheduling, intuitive floor plan design, or staffing but we believe gamification is a powerful tool for event planners, especially for those planning events for younger or tech savvy crowds who may be familiar with video games.

Pokemon Go

What can we learn from Pokémon Go?

We were recently at BizBash Live at the Javits Center, and we had a chance to text with Betty, an chatbot by eventbots that answered questions like "what is the Wi-Fi SSID?" or "what time is the reception?" We had a chance to talk with the team behind Betty and they made the excellent point that the reason you have to text with Betty is because everyone has a phone and everyone texts.

And it's as simple as that.

We think that herein lies the success of any gamification effort for event planners. Before we ask what point system we will use, we have to ask "how do we get people to play?" This is not a video game with a million-dollar budget where we can show off an amazing video and pull people in with visuals; the game has to be tied-in with the event itself. It has to have the convenience and accessibility of Betty.

Betty Chatbot

​Therefore, I leave it to the great game designers to design a text adventure à la Adventure (1980) or Digital: A Love Story (2010). Text adventures are back from the dead, so why not use their compelling power and keep your attendees a little more involved. Scan three badges in the next hour and you're one step closer to slaying the Dragon of Bashfulness… something like that?

Text Adventure

You are standing at the entrance of the conference center. Would you like to proceed? (Y/N)

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