Friday, February 3, 2012

Social Gaming - What can it mean for your organization?

I was invited by Terry Coatta to join him in a discussion on their bi-monthly AssociCom show, a show designed to provide information that will help associations facing interesting times as the changes come fast and furious to demographics and expectations.

There is so much data out there on how games can positively influence collaboration, productivity, engagement and innovation that in my opinion not looking at ways to include them is missing a potentially huge opportunity. if you follow the basics of good game creation, that have thousands of years of history to back them up, then your chances of success improve.

Some of the challenges we hear
  • we don't have enough space to play a game
  • our participants are here to learn, not play
  • our participants are here to network, not play a game
  • not everyone likes games
  • it will take too much time
  • you need a good enviroment and a good process for a game to succeed
  • "we" don't think it will work
Some of the opportunities we see
  • achievable goals a community can work towards create synergy, discussion and a sense of accomplishment
  • you can close skills gaps in a more fun way that better engages participants
  • you can create a common ground to build from in an environment that is safe - a game does not necessarily have real - life consequences but does require that you make decisions that will impact the outcome
  • engaged learners find more ways to make the learning relevant to their own situations - play engages more senses, has more synapses flowing and creates more "connect-the-dot" moments
  • people attend meetings to create connections - as Plato said "you learn more about a person in an hour of play than a lifetime of conversation"
  • being part of something bigger than oneself opens up participants to a greater sense of community and connectedness
  • combined depth of experience can be created and positive emotions are created - and as we are all emotional learners this will create better memories and more reason to return
Should you consider adding social gaming to your event? Heck yes! Consider though the basic constructs of your game. It has to have clear goals and rules, clear and continuous feedback, and it has to offer voluntary participation that shows agreement to the above inherent goals and rules. This takes time and clarity to achieve, and it may mean finding someone smarter than you (as we did with EventCamp Vancouver) to build out the game elements. You want to create achievable opportunities, and you also want to challenge participants - play to the highest level and you will be pleasantly surprised at the results.

What can you expect when you add a well constructed social gaming to your next conference or event?
  • better collaboration among participants as they work together to achieve shared objectives
  • unleashed creativity and strategic thinking as participants seek to "level up" and achieve the next goal
  • the creation of optimism and hope - when we can see regular progress, or face setbacks in the game environment and move beyond these, positive emotions flow
  • With success comes a perception of control over our environment and the associated  powerful feelings can translate to our daily lives
  • the release of positive endorphins leading to good feelings (hey you can't argue basic physiology)
  • greater camaraderie among participants throughout and beyond game play - you have a shared experience that connects you to others
  • this shared experience can be with the people in your space or it can be with remote players around the world - games can become much bigger than your physical meeting space
Consider the next time you are planning a meeting or event how you can use the knowledge we have about great meeting and game design and add even an element, test it out and see what the response is. All you have to lose is an opportunity to create deeper connections amongst your participants!

If you are using gaming, or scared to try it, please comment and keep this discussion going.


  1. Tahira,

    Wonderful post that articulates how truly beneficial games are for such serious purposes as conferences, business and networking. I love games of all kinds and, as you know, was even a World of Warcraft addict at one time and found that it actually jumpstarted my strategy for social media marketing.

    I would add that we shouldn't overlook the value of face to face games for a face to face group. Online games are great, I think they are particularly valuable when the participants aren't all in the same room. But when most of them are, why not choose an in person game in which we can experience the bonding and laughter face to face?

  2. Tahira

    Great post! It is an exciting time to be a meeting and event many new and interesting strategies emerging.

    Judy Kucharuk
    Footprint Management Systems Inc.

  3. Thanks Jenise and Judy - I agree that we are at a time when we are really on the cusp of taking what have been good events and making them great as we better understand how to make the connections deepen. Let's play!

  4. Gamification is definitely the way to go to increase engagement and positively influence collaboration and innovation. As mentioned in this blog post, if the game is well constructed, it can encourage better collaboration among participants as they work together to achieve shared objectives.

    EventMobi has a gaming layer, GamifyApp, that has been used by companies such as Disney, Crocs, and ScanSource to increase engagement and interactivity with attendees at their past events. Read about how IMEX11 showcased EventMobi’s gaming layer here:

  5. I do agree - it does increase engagement and we are fortunate in our industry to have leaders such as QuickMobile, EventMobi and others who are not only building apps but who become part of our overall strategy.