Level Up

19/01/2013 - Reproducido con permiso de The Meeting Professional, 2012. © One+, diciembre de 2012. Autora: Jackie Mulligan. Traducción: Event Planner Spain

How online gaming techniques can help you design and deliver better meeting content.

I am fascinated by technology. The reason? Because when I unpick the reasons behind innovations, I like to play with the ideas in all sorts of new contexts. Video games are a great tech sector to consider when it comes to content design, delivery and distribution. According to Forbes, the worldwide video game industry is poised to reach US$70.1 billion by 2015, and in fact, when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 made US$1 billion in 16 days, it became the biggest launch ever in any entertainment medium.

But before you switch off, I am not going to argue for zombies to be included at your next event or try to persuade you to buy consoles rather than conference bags. However, I am going to argue that some techniques in this area might help your meetings reach the next level.

Cloud Compete
"Cloud Compete" is an innovation announced for Electronic Arts’ Need for Speed: Most Wanted racing game. Using the technology of the cloud for sharing and storing results, the game enables players to compete against each other. It happens seamlessly, so when driving through the game world, leader boards and other challenges pop up showing how friends have performed and encouraging players to beat them. There are a few interesting points in the design that could inspire meeting industry innovators.

Consider how storing performance indicators over time and sharing these could support team-building activities, incentive events or exhibition performance. They might spur on healthy competition within and between companies—a unique platform and point of comparison. What works about this technology is that it is not just a matter of storing a score, but releasing that information at exactly the point it is needed to incentivize enhanced performance.

Of course, harnessing this competitive spirit is not new. But how often are our performances stored and incentives released at just the right time to encourage us to aim higher based on our own personal achievements? The game plays on the power of peer influence.

The world of retail recently used similar powers with an initiative using "social coat hangers" at C&A in Sao Paolo, Brazil. "Likes" in store and online are immediately recorded on the coat hangers holding the specific items. And, of course, ease of comparison is further supported in social media where Facebook uses our friends’ "likes" to influence our purchases. Far be it for us to consider those influences as competitive instincts, too.

So it seems that mixing performance incentives and social networks could add a new dimension to your meetings and incentive events. Is it time for you to fully harness the power of peers?

Cloud Saving
Online game services, such as Valve’s Steam, allow you to save the progress in your game "in the cloud." You can then log into another computer and continue where you left off. This is recognition of the busy, multitasking consumer who has to switch off and on—metaphorically and literally. This happens in meetings. How often at a conference will someone be temporarily distracted by a call, an email or an appointment just when they were enjoying the keynote? Imagine a world where, from that live experience, they could press their own personal device and catch up later. There is no reason why this cannot be achieved. So many presentations are live-streamed, so by recording the time of leaving, the video could be sent to you from the point where you left the room.

Imagine a "had to leave but let me catch up later" button on your event app. In the meeting industry, we encourage delegates to be fully scheduled and fully booked. But if they miss something they were enjoying, the perceived value reduces. How many of your delegates go back to the live streams of all the presentations or panel sessions? At face-to-face meetings, we don’t allow people to cross platforms like this—seamlessly getting them back to where they were before they were interrupted.

Cloud Experiences
Increasingly, thanks to budgets and carbon constraints, businesses cut back on travel. So, where in the past delegates attended events in small groups, more often than not we see single attendees. In the world of video games, even single-player experiences are being enhanced by the idea of the always online and social multiplayer. In the fantasy game Dark Souls, for example, players can leave messages for each other to find in the adventure, giving them tips on where to go next or how to defeat an upcoming monster. Monsters are not often seen at meetings, but occasionally there are negatives and positives that we miss when we are lonely souls navigating the meeting space.

Could this concept of being guided by others within a live experience enhance value for your delegates? If it’s a regular event or venue, tips stored and shared from previous attendees could be placed within the cloud for users to access. Leaving messages and recommendations is prevalent in the way we use social media, such as Trip Advisor. But this concept of messages being left to individuals as they journey through your event holds something more exclusive, personal and targeted, uniquely linked to the locations and the specificity (and story) of your meeting.

So there you have it: we look through the window to the online world of video games… and all we see is blue sky and clouds. One+

About Jackie Mulligan
Jackie Mulligan is a Principal Lecturer in Events and Director of Enterprise for the International Centre for Research in Events, Tourism and Hospitality at Leeds Metropolitan University UK, with over 20 years of experience managing events, tourism and communications. Jackie leads global industry research projects and professional development initiatives, blending her passion for creativity, future trends and technology. Twitter: @jackiemulls Email: [email protected].

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