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December 30th, 2014

DSC_1507Your team has spent months (or years!) developing the newest product. There’s been research and development—drawing boards and debates. At last, it’s time for the big reveal! How can gamification help your audience connect with your product? We’ll move forward with a simple series of questions.

Who is the Audience?

Although it may seem like gamification is a technique better suited for the younger demographics, studies show that video games are relevant for all ages.1 Rest assured, there is a game that’s perfect for your target audience, one that can help spread the news and enthusiasm about your product.

What is the Product?

It may be easy to assume that gamification only makes sense at product launches if your product is technology-based—such as apps or software; however, gamification is affecting and enhancing nearly EVERY industry, from healthcare and education, to car manufacturing and hospitality. Games for product launches can be simple, generalized, fun arcade games that improve interaction and lead into your product, or they can be customized—created specifically to encourage interest and help show your audience how the product can be used. “For marketers, gamification is a very effective and genuine way to get consumers to interact and build relationships with a brand.”2

How is it Launching?

For trade events and consumer events, the games presented can be offered in kiosks, on touchscreens, or through video wall displays where interaction and the gaming challenge enhance the event and create additional interest. For the follow-up to your product launch event, gamification is just as easily applied to email campaigns, websites, landing pages, and through newsletters—and don’t forget Facebook! Combining social media games with your product launch is a smart decision for expanding your reach and getting the word out about your product in a “viral” fashion.

What Style of Game is Best?

Many product families naturally pair with certain game styles. For instance, racing game apps are an ideal match for car manufacturers. Simulation games work well for the health and beauty industries. However, brands can still get a significant reaction from gamification as simple as a puzzle, arcade, or maze that is paired with the product logo and slogan.

We end with this suggestion for overall success in gamification:

“Users should understand . . . up front, how things work, what they need to do and what to expect in return.  Information and calls to action should be delivered in small usable chunks with minimal friction and with a clear progression. When designing a program . . . keep it simple, keep it engaging, and to the best of your ability deliver an experience that tells a story of personal or professional growth.”3

Resources: 1The ESA, 2Forbes, 3Badgeville

December 18th, 2014

brainIf you had a chance to read April Moore’s interviews with IntoMotion President, Jack Cardinal, then you’ve already read a lot of excellent advice on gamification for training sessions. While all business events strive for audience engagement, training sessions have an even more pressing need to keep an audience’s attention. Training sessions take money and work hours, and a company certainly wants to make the most out of those expenditures. More importantly, training sessions MUST bring valuable information to the work team; it is essential that the information is passed on, understood, processed, and remembered. Training sessions directly impact a company’s success rate—but only if the learning process is a success.

Delightfully, games are an excellent way to distribute new information and to ensure that the audience understands it. Whether your training session focuses on learning a new skill, mastering a specific task, or improving a broader function, you can guarantee that a gamified training app can simulate and stimulate—simulating the conditions to which workers will need to adapt, while stimulating their creativity, their competitive nature, and their willingness to learn!

Simulations – taking note of the popularity of games like “The Sims” and “Farmville,” people find addictive challenges in games that put them in virtual management roles. Supporters and researchers suggest that simulations help put the user into a completely new environment—one that is seen, heard, and manipulated rather than simply “listened to.”

Consider this quote from “Why Use Role Playing?”

Information, alone, rarely makes people change their minds, but personal experience often does. Role-playing, like any good inquiry approach, transforms the content of education from information into experience.

Tests and Quizzes – tests and quizzes have been a part of education since education began. The only way to truly know if an individual understands a new concept is to ask them to explain it fully to you or to demonstrate its use. What’s changing is the idea that tests and quizzes need to continue to be boring pencil and paper ordeals. Gamification infuses testing with all the sights and sounds of games—it drives test-takers further and rewards them for their efforts.

Competitions- deep inside us all, we have the instinct to survive through competition. Gamified training sessions help tap into this competitive nature. Whether you use individual competition, team competition, or timed competition, nothing pushes people harder than the secret (or not so secret) desire to win.

Scoreboards and Leaderboards – be sure to encourage trainees through scoreboards and leaderboards. Not only are they an excellent way to promote engagement and a healthy spirit of competition, but trainees also view them as a reward for their hard work and accomplishments. Everyone likes to be recognized for their efforts!

December 11th, 2014

file3021254774496By now, Event Planners (and everyone else) have realized that social media affects everything we do. In events, we have two choices: either ignore social media and hope for the best, or use social media platforms to enhance our event culture. The same principle applies to events and gaming! In our series on event gamification, this post will address the connection between social media and games. We’ll discuss some ideas to use when incorporating the two, as well as discussing some of the particular ways that social media gaming can make events more fun, while also helping to achieve business goals.

What defines a “Social Media Game”?

Social media gaming can seem similar to online gaming, and there are certainly overlapping qualities; however, a social media game is defined by three main characteristics:

  1. A Social Network – it makes sense, social games are distributed through social networks, and many elements of the game depend upon making connections rather than simply playing alone. Furthermore, social media games offer the chance to incorporate a participant’s profile of revealed preferences—such as friends, demographics, outside interests and lifestyle information.
  2. Shorter Playing Times – rather than more advanced interactive entertainment—such as role-playing games—social media games have a shorter playing time, but they have a focus that encourages repeated visits.
  3. No Cost – social media gaming is usually free to play.

It’s easy to see how these three elements work well for business events. Obviously, event gaming would be free for participants—event planners would provide it through the social networking in an event app as a way to encourage a livelier event culture. Also, a shorter playing time injects energy and fun into an event, while not taking away too much valuable time—still allowing attendees to focus on the conference, trade show, or meeting at hand. Best of all, with social media gaming naturally pulling gamers together through a social channel or platform, it is a great way to broaden networking connections—encouraging people to work together for common goals.

Social media games fall into four basic categories:

  1. Resource Management and Simulation
  2. Gambling
  3. Care-Taking
  4. Arcade Games

Of these four, the resource management and simulation games category is the most fertile ground for business events. While care-taking, gambling, and arcade games can still offer networking and team building potential by offering light-hearted fun and even (in some cases) relevant content for some industries, resource management and simulation games provide the most advanced opportunities for teamwork, goal-setting, and work-related challenges.

Social media gaming enhances business events by maximizing social networking and tapping existing relationships with other users, through invite systems, news feed postings, and user-to-user notifications—creating unique content and characters by tapping into a player’s existing social network.

Resources:

  1. http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/why-social-media-gaming-is-big-business-for-your-business/
  2. http://www.onlinesocialmedia.net/20141107/how-social-media-gaming-can-benefit-your-business/

December 4th, 2014

file3101282942088Employee relationships and team productivity are critical factors in the success of nearly every business, so it should come as no surprise that many business events strive to encourage team building. Whether team building is the sole, primary goal of an event or a hopeful secondary outcome, most corporate events seek to encourage employees to know each other better and to work together in a positive and productive way. Employees may work side-by-side on a daily basis, or they may manage teams from opposite sides of the globe—either way, employees need healthy working relationships.

Team building games can be applied across the work spectrum—from newly hired trainees, through to management and leadership teams. Team building is an excellent way to recharge long-term employees—improving the engagement, work satisfaction and success rates of seasoned company veterans. Best of all, with digital team building games, apps, and gamification, companies can get all of the benefits of team building games, without necessarily bringing employees together physically!

The Benefits 

  • Increased Productivity
  • Heightened Employee Collaboration
  • Improved Learning
  • Enriched Corporate Culture
  • Augmented Support and Encouragement
  • Better Sharing and Corrective Feedback
  • Greater Social and Emotional Rewards
  • Increased Recognition

In team building, the first step is always to identify the desired goal. Most exercises focus on communication, problem-solving, or trust-building, but they can also be striving to simply give employees a shared, fun experience that revitalizes their workforce and improves the culture on the job (the workplace equivalent of a “Field Day!”).

The second step for team building is to determine whether the activity will be in-person, remotely accessed, or a hybrid combination of the two. Obviously, for remote access teaming, all activities need to be Virtual; however, for in-person or hybrid events, use your event app, iPad rentals, or ARS keypads to host the games, and feel free to mix virtual games with physical games. Keep long-distance participants present with digital leaderboards and video chat feeds.

The Games

From team competitions and scavenger hunts, to casino games and giant board games, there’s no end to the potential examples of challenges that can help bring a team together. The following two resources provide roughly 120 unique examples of virtual, digital gaming that can take your team building across the planet and into the 21st Century!

  1. 50 Digital Team-Building Games: Fast, Fun Meeting Openers, Group Activities and Adventures using Social Media, Smart Phones, GPS, Tablets, and More (John Chen)
  2. Big Book of Virtual Teambuilding Games: Quick, Effective Activities to Build Communication, Trust and Collaboration from Anywhere! (Mary Scannell, Michael Abrams, and Mike Mulvihill)