At a time when many of us are plagued by video fatigue, gamification can breathe new life into a virtual world at risk of going stale.

We have all been there: sitting in the same chair, staring at a screen full of other people staring at a screen. Trying to hold eye contact for minutes at a time while the speaker’s voice slowly sends us into a hypnotic state. By the time the inevitable Q&A or roundtable discussion comes around, we have nothing to contribute and remain disengaged on the sidelines.

An unexpected side effect for many during this new age of virtual events is that all too familiar feeling of boredom. Video fatigue is making audiences uncomfortable and tired, impacting engagement levels for even the most ‘sold out’ online events. In fact, a 2020 SmartCompany survey showed that 88% of respondents had left a virtual event early – up 22% from pre-pandemic times.

So, how can organizers take the fatigue out of virtual events? The trick is to gamify the virtual experience. Gamification increases audience interaction and engagement, infusing any event with a dopamine hit that shapes participant behavior, encourages healthy competition, and helps to accomplish event goals. 

The video weariness

Video fatigue is not unusual: the sudden shift from physical interactions to virtual ones upended established routines and forced millions of workers to telecommute on a daily basis. After long hours of being forced to be on the listening end of endless one-way conversations, enduring the same stale webinar setups, the shine can very quickly wear off our new virtual lives. Add in factors like cognitive overload, a lack of live feedback, and diminished interaction opportunities, and you can see why some run-of-the-mill virtual events turn off audiences in droves.

Attendees reported that they were only engaged 53% of the time during virtual events in 2020. As more options to attend virtual events proliferate and have to compete for the attention of a multitasking audience, organizers that do not vary their content strategy shouldn’t be surprised when attendees tune out, switch to another tab, or – worse still – leave the event altogether. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right tools and solutions, organizers can differentiate themselves from other events on the market and ensure engagement remains high throughout the experience.

Gamification: the ultimate boredom buster?

A simple yet effective way to boost attendee engagement and ensure longevity in the minds of all participants, gamification involves adding game mechanics to a virtual event by allowing attendees to create teams, complete fun challenges, earn points, and potentially win prizes.

Event organizers can use a gamification engine to create a range of challenges, from live quizzes and polls to scavenger hunts, selfies, and caption contests. With a custom leaderboard, the experience can be made even more exciting through the awarding of points for various attendee activities, such as adding to a discussion, visiting another participant’s profile, or having them visit yours. Organizations and brands can flex their creative muscles and set up their own unique contests and competitions that are relevant to their overall objectives, thereby driving much deeper engagement with their target audience.

Gamification works on the principle of reward and reinforcement: the desire to compete and win. The buzz felt whenever an attendee climbs up the leaderboard or claims a reward will ensure they actively seek the behaviors the organizers want them to show. And as humans are essentially social beings, encouraging audiences to interact with each other through participation in a game will give the experience more authenticity and enjoyment, offering the additional reward of feeling more connected to fellow attendees. 

Virtual gamification also breaks up the monotony of staring at a screen. In today’s hectic world, our attention spans are not what they once were – so a virtual event punctuated with a range of bite-sized content features and activities will always be gratefully received.

A lucrative endeavour

By diving into the world of virtual event gamification, organizers can uncover an exciting variety of sponsorship opportunities. Sponsors can add their logos and branding to the live stream or donate prizes to maximize branding opportunities. Furthermore, incentives and rewards can be set for attendees to promote a virtual event on social media platforms, helping to raise awareness and build up excitement for subsequent events. 

The data insights collected through gamification go beyond attendee numbers. As the audience is required to interact with the platform throughout the event, organizers can track attendee behavior and understand which elements of the event are the most successful. The insights gained from seeing how attendees move through the virtual event space will help organizers set engagement benchmarks and plan new and improved events accordingly.

At a time when many of us are plagued by video fatigue, gamification can breathe new life into a virtual world at risk of going stale. By turning engagement into opportunities for points or prizes, organizers stand to transform their virtual audience’s expectations, resulting in maximized participation, glowing event reviews, and a heightened ROI.