7 Gamification Secrets to Motivate Audiences

In previous Ignite articles and white papers, we’ve explored how gamification can be a powerful communication tool for your meetings and tradeshows. But it’s important to remember one thing: you must choose the right type of game for your target audience.

Different vertical markets are populated by different types of people, who will, in turn, respond to different types of games.  Therefore, you must choose wisely. Here are the Top 7 Gamification motivators:

  1. Competition: How can I do better than my peers?
  2. Mastery: How good can I get at this?
  3. Learning: How can I increase my knowledge?
  4. Achievement: How will it feel to add this to my wins?
  5. Status: How good will winning make me look?
  6. Sociability: How can I connect more closely with my team?
  7. Altruism: How can I contribute to the social good?

We won’t do a deep dive into each, but we will offer two brief case studies that illustrate how they can be combined.

First, Ferring Pharmaceuticals used a poker-themed touchscreen game (for a tradeshow in Las Vegas), to engage and motivate their target audience of medical professionals. Medical professionals, from their first day of school, are routinely pitted against one another.  They are not allowed to “guess;” they are expected to KNOW. Add to this a sincere desire to help other people, and you have a potent mix of personality traits.  This game, therefore, had to appeal to the target audience on several levels.

Players stood before a large, vertically-oriented touchscreen, swiped their badge to begin, and were given a stack of virtual poker chips with which to wager.  A quiz question appeared on the screen, and the game automatically dealt three “playing cards” to the onscreen table; these playing cards each reflected a possible answer to the quiz question. Participants then chose which “answer” they “wagered” was correct by dragging and dropping chips onto it. Correct answers increased a player’s stack of chips; incorrect answers resulted in a loss of chips.

The questions were, of course, medically related, (Learning) and players were given the option to play multiple times to improve his or her score (Mastery, Achievement).  To make this more challenging, the questions changed from game to game. Throughout the activity, the participants learned new and effective ways to perform colonoscopies.  [Ed. Note: The writer recognizes the irony of a gambling game referencing colonoscopies]  The highest scoring players received recognition on large leaderboards that towered over the booth (Competition, Status). And, in the spirit of cause marketing (Altruism), a donation was made to the Colonoscopy Association (a nonprofit close to the attendees’ hearts) that matched the amount of money each attendee won.

This game was a great success because it focused on what was important to the target audience, and it had a palpable “fun” factor.  The attendees were, after all, in Las Vegas.

Next, RoboVent, a leader in clean air technology, combined several game approaches to engage & educate attendees about their new clean air solutions. Their target audience is comprised of engineering types who are socially active with one another, and who are tasked with the difficult job of maintaining the air quality in manufacturing plants that are LADEN with airborne contaminants … often POISONOUS contaminants. They work hard and they love their toys.

The game: players raced Anki cars around a track.  These cars behave just like slot cars of old, but there are no slots (the cars read embedded circuitry in the track), and are controlled wirelessly through an app on (provided) smartphones. Attendees competed not only against each other, but also against a “Smart” car that was controlled by no one; it had an internal brain that “learned” the moves of its competitors and anticipated them.  The Smart car represented the “smart” app Robovent was rolling out that proactively managed air quality in manufacturing plants.  Here’s an important point; although the Smart car often out maneuvered other vehicles on the track, it didn’t ALWAYS win.  

The Smart car’s vulnerability, subsequently, heightened the competitive zeal of the players, who pushed to do better than the other guy (Competition) and get an emotional rush (Achievement) as they improved their use of the controls (Mastery). And as the race progressed, the players found themselves rooting for each other (Sociability).

The game was not only an attendee favorite at the show, it scored a major messaging win for RoboVent. The Smart car was the perfect analogy for their featured product’s ability to continually analyze air quality in a facility and self-adjust to keep it at its highest level. It also helped the attendee better perform their difficult jobs.

These are just two examples of the myriad ways gamification can engage target audiences and make messaging stickier.

People in all verticals can be motivated by the spirit of play, and given the sea change the Digital Age has wrought, we are rapidly approaching a time when gamification will becomes the rule, rather than the exception.  
Let the games … continue