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With the shift to remote work in the last few years, chances are your members are reaching their quota for zoom calls and virtual meetings. And while your virtual event may have timely and pertinent information for them, chances are without the right strategy, you won’t get the engagement you want. 

Enter gamification. 

Trying to gamify your virtual event doesn't have to be hard. By incorporating fun games and interactivity, you can create a memorable and enjoyable experience that will keep your attendees coming back for more. 

What is gamification?

Gamification is the process of integrating game elements into non-game environments (like virtual events!). Games are effective tactics for educating and engaging users, while encouraging attendees to feel like they're part of a larger community, winning prizes and badges along the way. 

Engagement is a constant challenge in virtual event environments. Because attendees aren’t physically together, it’s a lot easier to zone out. Plus, distractions in our home environments and the persistent temptation to check social media notifications make it much harder to stay focused and alert.

Benefits of gamification in events

Gamification works because it teases out the participants’ competitive spirit, promotes motivations, and triggers positive emotions. Everyone likes to play, compete, and win. 

Gamifying your event amplifies the attendee experience and makes them feel more comfortable. It breaks the ice without venturing into “two truths and a lie” territory while facilitating bonding and camaraderie among attendees. 

Adding elements of gamification into your events (live, hybrid, and virtual) is more important than ever and has tons of advantages, such as: 

  • Increased engagement
  • Memorable attendee experiences
  • More comfortable atmosphere
  • Better networking opportunities

Another very important perk to gamifying your virtual event is the opportunity for sponsorship promotion. By allowing sponsors to be involved with specific games, you provide them with a unique branding opportunity as well as a chance to offer prizes. This is a great way for them to interact with your attendees in an authentic way and can make a sponsorship opportunity a much easier sell for your team. 

Why wouldn’t you want to inject a little more fun into your next virtual event?

How to gamify virtual events

If you’re going to gamify, you need to approach it with a goal and a strategy. For example, if your goal is to increase attendee engagement during sessions, you might want to focus on gamification elements like in-session polling, bingo cards, and trivia questions. 

For successful event gamification, attendees need to understand the rules and prizes to drum up their interest in participating. Create content leading up to the event letting attendees know how it will work and how they will be rewarded. You’ll want to make it clear what attendees earn or win by participating to incentivize them to do so. (This is a great opportunity to engage sponsors for the prizes!) 

Also, be sure to engage your speakers and presenters. Integrate scavenger hunt clues and trivia questions into their presentations and they’ll be listening even more attentively than ever. 

5 Virtual Gamification Examples 

With many events going online in the past few years, zoom fatigue has become a real issue. However, by making events fun and interactive, you can easily boost engagement. There have been plenty of fun examples in the association space to date, but for those looking for creative examples to gamify your virtual event, here’s a good place to start:

  1. Scavenger hunts: Participants must complete a list of actions throughout the course of the event to win a prize. 
  2. Trivia: Ask questions during sessions that attendees can answer from their event apps. If you’re planning on doing it as a part of a presentation or keynote, be sure to tease that information up top so your attendees are actively listening. Trivia also doesn’t need to be conference-specific. Be sure to use “fun” trivia as a way to break the ice and keep your attendees having fun. 
  3. Exhibitor passports: Encourage engagement between attendees and exhibitors by creating a “stampable” digital passport that gets marked by every participating exhibitor an attendee interacts with.
  4. Contests: Award points or prizes to participants who ask the best question, have the best virtual background, or get the most trivia questions correct. Get creative with your contests!
  5. Award points for dedicated actions: Whether it’s networking with other attendees, posting on social media with the event hashtag, checking in at an exhibitor booth, or something else, rewarding attendees with points for event-related tasks serves as a welcome motivator to drive engagement.

Be sure to incorporate leaderboards into your event gamification strategy. Automated leaderboards — or, at least, occasional updates throughout a live event about top attendees — drum up competition by showing attendees where they stand in comparison to others, and help encourage more participation.

And of course, be sure to give a shout-out to the winner to celebrate their accomplishment! 

Other Inventive-Based Strategies

Of course, games don’t need to be the only way you gamify your virtual event. Interactive strategies can help keep your attendees involved while also becoming an organic growth tool for your event. 

Social media, for example, is an easy way to keep your attendees connected especially if they aren’t super interested in interacting on your app or website. Simply create a dedicated hashtag for your event. Not only can this become a tool in the gamification element, for example, they need to post a photo as part of a scavenger hunt, but also it turns into user-generated content you can leverage to promote your event. 

Similarly, adding polls as a component to your event supports your speakers and presenters while also creating a gamification opportunity. Your attendees enjoy interacting and answering questions and then seeing that data analyzed in real-time. 

Gamify Your Next Virtual Event

Of course, gamification is only one part of your virtual event. You can learn more about how to create flawless virtual events that drive real engagement in our ultimate guide to virtual event production. However, the bottom line is that focusing on the experience of your attendees is the best way to drive engagement. 

This starts by having timely and engaging speakers, seamless integration with any technology used and of course, fun games to keep everyone relaxed and engaged. 

Sidecar Staff
Post by Sidecar Staff
March 31, 2021
At Sidecar, we create the professional development tools a leader needs to grow their career and their purpose-driven membership organization, like associations and nonprofits. The skills you’ll learn within our growing community, interactive workshops and from our step-by-step courses will drive innovation, empower strategic thinking and institute cultural changes wherever your career takes you.