Rock Your Audience with Gamification Apps

“If you think of the reality of sitting in the audience at an event, you pick up your phone, and the event organizer has about 10 seconds to capture your attention before you’re distracted by Candy Crush,” – says Aaron Price, co-founder of one of the most renowned event gamification apps, Livecube.

A good way to prevent this is putting something fun on the attendee’s phone. Statistics prove it works:

In 2016, according to Guidebook, 86% of event participants rated gamification as a top three aspect that made their time at an event enjoyable.

The best gamification apps tap into our basic instincts by making simple, ordinary situations feel like games.


According to Bunchball, gamification is the process of integrating game mechanics into non-game experiences. This is done to motivate participation, engagement, loyalty, and actions that add value to businesses by making mundane experiences seem less boring. Yukai Cho, an expert on the subject, describes gamification as design that places the emphasis on human motivation. In essence, gamification is human-focused design.

Gamification Apps ≠ Games

The name can be a little misleading: we’re not talking about augmented reality or VR-goggles, and gamification isn’t just about creating entertainment software for business purposes either. You don’t want to transform your event into a selfish playground. Gamification apps are there to add competition and entertainment while educating the participants. It’s about getting through to your audience with the help of a fun app.

Games are a good way to make participants interact with each other. If your event has its own app, you can get the attendees to play trivia or rapid fire quizzes. Later, they’ll remember the time they spent with friends and acquaintances, and the connections they made at your event.

Gather Opinions

Many gamification apps can be used to create polls. This is one of the best methods to get attendee feedback. A good app can make polling fun and appealing.

Organizers can also encourage attendees to ask questions via gamification apps. If people can use their phones to send questions to the speaker, even those who otherwise wouldn’t participate can be included in the conversation.

Gamification Corner

These separate spots work as audience magnets. A gamification corner is an area for the participants to relax in their free time, but it can also be utilized as potential space for sponsor promotion.

The Boston Red Sox’s virtual batting cage shows a good example of how a VR gaming system can be used for marketing.

Planners must understand precisely what can and should be gamified.

In a recent post, Grace Cheung, Marketing Coordinator at QuickMobile, lays down the criteria for using gamification at an event.

Basic Requirements

A suitable event for gamification apps is one where you are interested in understanding engagement, and improving attendee participation and activity. Gamification becomes unnecessary when the event’s goal is just to provide straightforward information.

Resources Needed

It can take some time and consultation to customize the app for your event. The planner should have equal time to spend on the game and developing an event strategy. What kind of engagement do you want from your audience? How will you measure it? What numbers would you like to achieve?

Gamer Demographics

When considering using gamification apps, the demographics of your audience doesn’t matter as much as you might think. It’s more important to focus on the game design because each group of attendees has different reasons to play.

Instead of asking “Will my attendees play games?” ask “Why will my attendees play this game?”

Think about what type of reward your participants would prefer too.

Great for Educational Events

Incorporating education in the attendee’s experience, and making sure they leave with the knowledge they need, without overloading them with information – gamification is a subtle way to accomplish this.

Planners once jumped from app to app choosing a new one for each season. But the trends have changed: more and more organizations are sticking with one app and using it throughout their events. With all the options available, selecting the right one can be overwhelming. Here are the most important aspects to consider.

Custom-made or Configurable?

Decide whether you want a custom branded app or a premade app. Custom branded apps are developed specifically for your organization’s needs, but take a little bit more time and money to produce. On the other hand, premade apps are ready when you are. Usually, these have highly configurable, premade modules that are likely to suit your needs.

Simple & Safe

The app should be easy to access for everyone so your less tech-oriented attendees are able to use it too.

It has to work on both Apple and Android devices. It should tolerate the spotty Wi-Fi Connection that a lot of venues have. A good app ensures data and security privacy too.

analytics & Changes on the Fly

It’s crucial for event organizers to track audience responses. The data is needed to plan strategies, so most event apps are able to provide analytics on many segments. You can get instant insight into participation reactions on the spot, and you should be able to fine-tune things while the event is still going on.

Furthermore, attendees should be able to apply any changes made to the app’s content without having to restart it.

Happiness Gamified

At their annual invitational, the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) wanted the gamification to do more than promote participation: they wanted to gamify happiness. So the game was designed around encouraging people to perform individual and collaborative happiness-related behaviors, and then rewarding them. This included winning points for sharing photos of your “happy place” at the venue, or sending complimentary notes to other attendees.

Ultimately, the IRF’s app was well received. Attendees found that it helped them to pay closer attention to their surroundings, the people they were with, and the people they were supposed to meet. This  ultimately allowed the IRF to gamify not only engagement, but happiness too.

An event app partner is like a team member. It’s a long-term relationship. Your technology partner should exhibit both hard skills (a good product) and soft skills (being a good partner). It’s important to consider all aspects when choosing. You can even double-check references and testimonials with their previous clients who gave them.

Experience & Staying Current

Your ideal partner has some history in the field. Look for one who is an active and committed member of the professional community. A good partner not only grows alongside your organization, and evolves with your needs – they should also have a clear understanding of industry trends, and follow the latest regulations. Choose a provider who is dedicated to app improvements, and regularly releases upgrades.


A company’s reliability lies in each member of their staff. Do you feel good about working with them? Are you happy or hesitant to pick up the phone when they call? Have you learned anything about their business culture and values? Do they align with yours?

Support & Communication

You shouldn’t be the only one doing research: it’s a good sign if your prospective app vendor tries to understand you instead of giving a typical sales presentation.

  • Are they trying to come up with new ideas for you? Are they responsive enough in their communication? Do they meet deadlines?
  • Are they open and transparent about what they can do, and what is beyond their capabilities?
  • If met with obstacles, what kind of assistance can you expect from them?
  • Will you have a dedicated project or account manager?
  • If your event is on a weekend, will they answer your customer support request?

Daimler promoted the third generation Smart For Two electric drive car at the September 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show. They gamified the event using cars to play a digital game of Ping Pong. The interactive event was designed to demonstrate how highly responsive the new prototypes are. Visitors were invited to sign in with their driver’s license, and given instructions how to forward and reverse before engaging in a live duel using laser measurement technology.

“We found that gamification is indeed very useful to engage audiences, but it’s not necessarily the thing that drives the actual conversion and the actual revenue”

– said Petar Karafezov, senior manager of Adobe’s digital marketing. This aligns with Brandon Ralafson’s views in his article published on The Bizzabo Blog.

Gamification is Not Just About the App

Gamification isn’t a technology: it’s a frame of mind. It lives beyond apps and mobile devices. The increasing popularity of event gamification apps has brought with it an app-centric view of gamification and live events as a whole. But making an app isn’t enough: it’s only a powerful add-on to capture the audience’s attention.

Gamification is Not the Magic Bullet for Boredom

If you want to make your event entertaining and engaging, you need to get back to the basics of what makes a good event. Invite interesting speakers. Mix up the program with different sessions. And give multiple opportunities for people to network (food, drinks).

Gamification is Not About Winning

Some event apps give attendees the opportunity to earn points by giving their information to sponsors. While this could seem like a good opportunity for collecting leads, the quality of these leads is dubious. Attendees who are just trying to earn a prize aren’t necessarily going to be interested in a sponsor’s offer.

Sure, games are a fun and effective way to push agendas. But if attendees feel like they are being manipulated, they’ll simply get turned off from the event.

Event marketing should not be about handing over and taking information. It’s about sharing relevant knowledge with all sides.

So gamification apps don’t represent a miracle cure for poor engagement, only a tool to combat it. The technology alone isn’t enough to rock your event: you need to gamify your mindset too. If you can balance user experience and sponsor needs, apps will definitely make your marketing seem less intrusive, and getting the boost you need will be much simpler.

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