How Gamification Can Boost Audience Engagement

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What’s the best way to keep someone engaged in your event? 

Make their experience fun.  

The ability to keep audiences engaged is key in determining event success, but it isn’t always easy in a virtual environment. But it’s important – companies with engaged customers realized a 55% higher share of wallet than their counterparts.  

This is where gamification comes into play – no pun intended. 

Even if you haven’t heard the term before, you have seen it used. Think earning stars on the Starbucks Rewards program, or the badges you earn for movement on an Apple Watch or FitBit. Gamification is everywhere these days, and applying it to your next event is a way to boost your attendee engagement and build a loyal audience.  

In this blog, we’ll talk about ways to do just that!  

How Does Gamification Work? 

Gamification refers to taking video game mechanics – interactivity, tasks, rewards, etc – and applying them to non-game scenarios. Applying these game mechanics is a proven way to incentivize your attendees to become active participants in your events.  

Gamification of virtual events can take the form of: 

  • Earning points for attending a session or visiting a booth 
  • Ranking systems for those who complete tasks fastest 
  • Virtual treasure hunts to collect items or complete desired tasks 
  • Incentives for filling out the post-show survey forms 

The Science Behind Gamification 

The key to gamification lies in the reward center of the brain. The motivation to do something is fueled by dopamine, a chemical signal that gets released when you experience something satisfying or pleasurable – like completing a simple task and getting a reward. 

Gamification is about motivation, and Scientific American says there are three critical elements that sustain motivation: 

  1. Autonomy. If you have autonomy over your own choices, you are more motivated. Research shows students able to select a course on their own persisted longer in problem-solving activities than their counterparts. 
  2. Value. If you care about something, you’ll keep going at it. Assigning value to an activity increases motivation: studies show a positive correlation between students interest in a subject and their willingness to study it.  
  3. Competence. If you perceive you are good at something, you’ll keep doing it. There is a strong link between student’s perceived prowess and desire to pursue it.  

Gamification takes advantage of these factors of motivation to enhance specific tasks – like a virtual show. 

The Benefits of Gamification in Virtual Events 

Gamification has a proven track record for enhancing productivity and morale in the office and in school, and the same is true for events. You can help engage your audience and keep them incentivized to interact through these benefits: 

Good behavior is reinforced
You want your audience to do something that furthers your goals, such as attending sessions. Reinforcing that good behavior with a reward like points or badges means that they will have incentive to keep doing it. 

Your audience feels in control
As you saw above, autonomy is a huge part of motivation. Making your audience part of the process with control over their progress will help them – and you! – reach goals.  

Taps into competitiveness
Most people are naturally competitive. If something feels like a game they can “win”, you will get them motivated to engage in your event. 

Allows for visible progress
If the attendee is able to track their progress in a visual way, there is incentive to “complete” the task because the human brain likes to finish what it starts.  

Applying Gamification to Virtual Events 

Gamification at an event should be a strategic decision. Event planner should ask themselves, what are the event goals? The goals should inform the games. 

  • If the goal is booth traffic, maybe it’s a scavenger hunt where visiting each booth earn you prizes or rewards.  
  • If the goal is session attendance, maybe it’s earning points or badges for each one completed. 
  • If the goal is networking, maybe each attendee connection puts you on a networking leaderboard.  


I hope this blog on gamification in events has been helpful! Applying gamification to your next event can increase attendee engagement and help you retain an audience. To learn how Digital Joy can take your attendee engagement to the next level, please visit us at 


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