Are we placing too much focus on gamification at events?

Simon Clayton asks whether gamification and apps like Pokémon Go are really the best way to engage delegates with event content.

Simon Clayton chief ideas officer, RefTech
Simon Clayton chief ideas officer, RefTech

How do you get a Pikachu on a bus?

Look out of your window. Go to a park. Walk down the road; and you will witness the craze that is sweeping our nation. In the few weeks since Pokémon Go, the augmented reality game was launched in the UK, it has taken the country by storm and turned us all into walking zombies transfixed to our phones.

I like the game, it's fun and it gets people outside and doing things. It's helping to tackle childhood obesity like no other government led campaign ever has, and one man even claims to have lost two stone since playing it. But I am dreading the inevitable; the letters, articles and news stories in our industry press talking about how this fun game will impact on how we create and organise events. Any new consumer phenomenon always gets dragged into the events sphere – with the inevitable cry of how it will revolutionise our industry. But Pokémon Go will not impact on events, and I’m finding it hard to even see how gamification in general will either.

Gamification has been heralded as a game changer for conferences and events. But why?

If you can only get delegates to your conference session by making it ‘fun’ or by forcing them to collect a stamp or token towards a prize then I suggest you have a long hard look at your content. If the content is good, but just not relevant to that individual, then ask yourself why you want them to be there? Do you want to present to people who are not interested in your session? What a waste of time for them and you. B2B events don’t have to be dull, but they do have to have a reason to happen, an objective. If you get the objective right you won’t need to encourage people to be engaged, or go to sessions by giving them the opportunity to win a prize.

I hate banging on about this, but if you get the basics right – and have good, relevant content delivered by effective and engaging speakers, then you don’t need the bells and whistles.  I’m still saddened to see so much emphasis placed on new technology and new gimmicks, whilst the basics are ignored.

It’s not going to be too long before a tech company launches a B2B AR game billed as the ‘Pokémon Go for conferences’, but equally -  it’s not going to be too long before it disappears quietly and without a trace.

More:

12 ways technology is going to transform B2B events 

UK agencies invest £200,000 a year in technology 

Event tech not being used 'to full effect', says CWT

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