The purpose of marrying the kind of tech seen at gaming events with B2B conferences is all about interaction and engaging with the audience. Attendees desire a wow factor experience, and there are few things as attractive as what gaming companies (and eventually, the tech created around them) bring.
Walk back in time in an event and you may remember that “games” involved a pencil and a piece of paper, or a white board. Trivia, quizzes, maybe even charades were offered to attract attendees to different show booths. At its peak in the 90’s, playing Jeopardy with attendees using an Excel spreadsheet displayed on a projector was the ultimate showstopper.
But then it got better. So much better.
Now, conference attendees can interact with life-sized mascots on giant touch screens and play fully-developed mini games showcasing a particular product. And yet, there’s still more advancements. As fun as it is, 4-D sensory experiences involving smell, touch, sound and sight have already become passé as the competition for bigger, cooler, best challenges even the most experienced event planners and managers. Here are a few examples of engaging techniques that are cutting through right now:
Kinect Cameras to Avatars
Just before the pandemic hit, it wasn’t uncommon to see a show floor using Microsoft Kinect cameras (first used with the Xbox game system) to get attendees to interact with preprogrammed content –transforming the attendee to anything and everything – from a smoking shadow to a genie or a cartoon dog – with imagination being the only limitation. In other instances, attendees can come together in carefully crafted virtual worlds, their avatars co-created with different personalities and branding in mind.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
And even further, virtual reality (VR) headsets are used to transport attendees to another world, whether it’s a walk on a beach to set the mood, or a walk through a department store vying for business. Augmented reality (AR) is another draw for attendees to experience brands literally in front of them. The investment in this technology is working to earn companies their kudos – one step onto the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) floor and you would be hard pressed to find a booth that highlighted VR or AR without a line.
While it’s easy to gauge participation at in-person events, what about the many virtual events taking place post pandemic? Gamification is arguably more important in an event where in-home attendees can easily turn to their TVs, or open a new window on the computer and disengage from the conference. To keep the level of interest high, companies have enabled point systems to reward viewership which scores prizes for participation, or increased the fun with visual trivia and polling. Breakout teams can also work together to complete fun challenges or play mini games on the platform itself.
Perhaps the biggest case in point in the success of events’ gaming tech is the evolution of esports. Esports started simply, with gamers streaming themselves playing video games on Twitch, and now full, in-person conferences are centered around competitive gaming. Large arenas are sold out as teams go head-to-head playing the newest games (or in the case of Starcraft, not so new). League of Legends is a standout year after year, pushing the boundaries of their events, incorporating live avatars and mixed reality into live shows.
These esports gamers were using green screens and virtual backgrounds far before companies doing corporate events even picked up on it. Each year, we see the incorporation of more mind-boggling tech in their live events, having us question, “How do they do that?” which is exactly what keeps the bar so high.
These days, companies have no choice but to be creative and offer attendees more than just information. Those not willing to push the boundaries are quickly seeing a reduction of their attendees’ attention. Adopting some the techniques seen in the esports gaming space and adapting them for B2B summits and conferences is one way to ensure you keep your audiences’ attention, whatever the distractions.