Event Management
May 14, 2019  •  by Lisa Carson

Increase Attendee Engagement with Gamification

Maintaining the attention of an audience and getting them to retain information is hard, particularly with all the messages and distractions available today. Gamification is a great method for increasing engagement. When implemented correctly triggers emotions associated with a positive user experience and can influence human behavior.

People by nature are programmed to enjoy games, usually because they’re fun, social, competitive or challenging. We associate games with childhood, play and entertainment. Various businesses, educators, marketers and event organizers have taken this concept of game play and integrated it into other activities, to encourage interaction with content or an experience. This method is valuable because it creates a more immersive experience rather than a passive one.

In order for event attendees to have a positive and memorable experience you need them to have an engaging experience. This is where gamification comes into play.  

What is Gamification?

Gamification simply integrates the familiar elements of game play, such as competition, point scoring and rules of play, into other areas of activity. This can be used as part of a marketing strategy, in learning environments, or at events to increase engagement with a product, service or brand. The goal of gamification is to get people involved and engaged in an experience. Including familiar game elements makes it fun and easier to elicit participation.

Examples of gamification elements:

  • Clear rules of play
  • Reward structure – Incentives/awards/badges
  • Competition
  • Point scoring
  • Leaderboards
  • Challenges / levels
  • Virtual currency
  • Avatars

Why is Gamification Valuable?

People who have a higher level of engagement with an experience are more likely to:

  1. Remember it.
  2. Have a positive association attached to it (and the brand/product/service).
  3. Talk about and share that experience with others.

When implemented correctly gamification has the power to:

  • Change behavior by engaging an audience around an identified set of behaviors.
  • Enhance learning and skills development through a more interactive and immersive learning experience.
  • Encourage innovation by creating an environment where participants can collaborate, experiment and problem solve.

Before Getting Started

It’s important to consider your goal/objectives and your audience before attempting to incorporate gamification into your event strategy. It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole and lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve. Ask yourself:

  1. What is the goal? What are you hoping to achieve through the engagement? What are the key outcomes that would enable you to measure the success of this goal?
  2. Who is your audience? Be clear about who your audience is. Understand the people you are trying to engage. What technologies are they familiar with? What types of activities do they enjoy participating in.  
  3. What is most likely to appeal to and engage your audience? Different audiences will be engaged by different tools and methods. It isn’t a one size fits all approach and it’s not about what interests you. There are various ways of incorporating gamification into your event. Carefully consider what your target audience is likely to be most responsive to.

Build Your Experience

Once you’re clear about the steps above, next you can build an experience that will engage your audience and achieve your desired outcomes. There are a variety of different tools and methods you can use, but you need to identify what will work best for your audience and help you reach the desired outcomes.

Gamification lends itself well to recording and measuring intended behaviour, which allows you to effectively evaluate the event or activity. However you need to be clear about what those metrics are. You can’t just run a fun game and say, everyone seemed to enjoy it. How is the interaction achieving your objectives and how are you assessing engagement?

There are a number of companies and apps that can help you create an interactive experience, from trivia to live interaction at a conference or event. Mobile devices and in particular smartphones are key to gamification at events, allowing you to use apps to engage an audience.

How to Incorporate Gamification (including great tools!)

Conferences and Expos

Conferences and expos use gamification to encourage key event goals such as networking, session attendance and interactions with booths and exhibitors. Customizable interactive experiences can be a great way to do this, using apps like EventMobi, The Go Game or SCANVenger Hunt. Attendees can receive points for desired behaviors such as check-ins or answering questions. Prizes can be redeemed with a certain number of points or when a position on the leaderboard is reached. Scavenger hunts with scannable QR codes at various stations can be used to get clues about where to go.


Creating fun opportunities for participation is a great way to keep your audience engaged during a presentation. No one wants to sit through a boring lecture. Turing a passive audience into active participants by incorporating gamification, is a game changer for gaining and retaining attention during a presentation. There should always be at least one interactive element included. CatchBox is one option that takes the boring old crowd mic to the next level. What says fun more than throwing a colorful padded microphone cube around the room.  

An app like Kahoot specializes in creating your own quizzes. This can be used in many different ways for all kinds of events. You can ask multiple choice questions during a presentation to gain immediate audience feedback or challenge them to guess an answer. You could ask the audience to vote on what topic they want you to focus on. Alternatively, participants could be asked to answer short quiz questions at the end of a presentation, to show they understand key concepts.  

LiveTweetApp and EverWall are great tools to create a Social Wall (with Twitter or Instagram) to help you increase social interactions at your event. You can use these tools to search, moderate and display social media posts on a screen at your event. You could ask questions or poll attendees and get their real time responses via Twitter and Instagram for you to display. This both benefits the event engagement and social promotion.   

Learning and Training Environments

Gamification has been used extensively in formal and informal learning environments. From university learning and e-courses, to a mobile app that turns learning a language into a game. It is also used in staff on-boarding and training, designed to be more interesting and fun so that staff will engage and retain the information. The ability to earn badges are a popular way to encourage people to progress through learning levels, OpenBadges is one organization that facilitates this.   

Workplace Engagement

Gamification is used to encourage workplace engagement. Organizations use different methods and tools to encourage desired behaviors they want to see in their organization. This could be facilitated staff events and team building exercises to encourage collaboration, or a gamified employee recognition and rewards software program such as Redii.

Marketing Campaigns

Gamification can be incorporated into marketing campaigns to get an audience to participate in the promotion. Loyalty programs are a classic example of this. The McDonald’s Monopoly Game promotion is another popular example with the tagline – ‘The simple joy of being a winner’. Burger King just launched a new campaign that incorporates augmented reality and gamification. Burger King will give you a free whopper if you Set Competitors Ads on ‘FIRE’.

The Final Word

There are many ways gamification can be incorporated into your strategy, regardless of the type of event or business you have. It’s all about getting people to become involved participants in an experience. Start by being clear about your audience and objectives, before creating an event experience or implementing apps and tools. When it comes to incorporating gamification into your events, the strategy determines the game, not the other way around.