The MICE industry has started implementing ‘gamification’ in a number of ways, and with the advent of event game technology, deriving more fun and productivity
By ROB COTTER
With the opening of the sealed envelope revealing the name of Tokyo, the formal announcement on September 7 that the 2020 Olympic Games was on its way to the mega-city, led to scenes of euphoria amongst the Japanese Olympic delegation, from cheers to tears and every emotion in between.
Whilst a games-focused event doesn’t come any bigger than the Olympics, integrating the right aspect of a game into any event is a surefire way to unlock some of the reactive energies of the Japanese delegation. It can transform the event into one that is more productive, engaging and enjoyable, with initiatives across the globe showing the MICE industry to be embracing ‘gamification’ benefits in a variety of increasingly sophisticated ways.
One option is to place delegates right at the heart of the complete games experience by staging an event in a prominent sporting venue. The Twickenham Experience in London, UK – a stadium considered the spiritual home of rugby – is one example that sets out to plug its sporting values into an event’s corporate objectives.
Amir Vered, head of sales and marketing at the Twickenham Experience, said: “Whatever the event, delegates cannot ignore the surroundings and Twickenham’s core values are mirrored in almost any function.”
“We have even hosted events at which corporate presentations have been delivered via the scoreboard while delegates were seated in the stadium seating,” he added.
Should the ‘wow’ factor of a prestige games venue like Twickenham be secondary to finding all-out adventure, however, there are a wide range of heart-in-the-mouth type options available for events and team-building.
Croatia’s Glavani Adventure Park, which has run team-building sessions for a number of years, is at its core an urge to test mettle through a suite of vertiginous challenges, from a 113-metre zip line to an 11-metre-high two-person swing.
“Team-building [is fostered] from learning that everyone helping each other means less need for an overall boss or managers,” said Nigel Simpson, manager of Glavani Adventure Park. “The co-operation and help between each and every person on all of the 40 games on the course is exemplary. These games really stretch everyone’s capabilities…we have learnt that those capabilities are far stronger when everyone works together.”
Delegates learning about their capabilities needn’t come solely through such tree-top derring-do as at Glavani, though, as Belgian meeting service company Admire Events is keen to demonstrate through the games they offer as a central component of their own events.
“Companies want a half day out and they like interacting – team-building games in the city where at the same time they get to know the city in a different way,” said Brigitte Boone, managing director of Admire Events. “In any case, team-building that always works are chocolate workshops and beer tastings: Belgians do take this seriously – a lot to learn and we like to share our culture with others!”
“We see a different approach request depending on the decision maker/nationality – e.g. Eastern Europe tends to go the more ‘classic way’ – and we adapt the programme each time to client needs,” Ms Boone explained. “It is important to us that everybody is able to participate, no matter what their function or responsibility.”
Ensuring full participation in an event game is a key benchmark of its success, and one that needs to be especially considered as a driving force behind game development in today’s industry: technology. The rise of the event app is also seeing the rise of the event game and with that, the potential to derive a lot more information by way of input as well as output from games.
John Chen, CEO of US-based Geoteaming said: “More than 60-70 per cent of people coming to a conference are now using [an event app], so that gives a huge platform, as you can add a game to the app. For using technology in game design, trying to get a platform that has the most number of people who can get onto it is important. You want to make sure of lowering the bar to entry, which is trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get logged into the game.”
“What we did at World Education Congress (WEC) this year was to use a conference game – a game available to anybody at the conference – to incentivise them to see some of the best things from the conference,” Mr Chen continued.
“The key here is custom designing the mission so that there are things that the participants get to discover and that the organisers really want them to see. What the game is meant to do is for the players to show them the best for the conference and give them incentives to see more and do more at it.”
“[A game] allows for quite a measurable way to see how much the learning is sticking,” offered Andrea Driessen, chief ‘Boredom Buster’ at US-based No More Boring Meetings. “You can know pretty quickly whether people are getting it and without that bar to be reached we don’t necessarily know if meetings are making a difference. This gives you a chance to know, and all in a fun way.”
Ms Driessen added that people are naturally wired to want to play. “It brings out our natural instincts to learn and to be connected to other people, both of which are crucial to a good meeting.”
With the progress of technology an unstoppable march, there may be further ways in the not-so-distant future for delegates to become connected to each other through event games.
“What’s happening a lot now in the gaming world is augmented reality,” Ms Driessen said. “In the gaming world you can only imagine the possibilities – we will have whole new layers of information at our fingertips.”
With so many choices at your disposal and with technology pushing the boundaries of what you can give and take from games to make your next meeting a good one, it only remains to be said: Let the games begin!