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by Michael Shapiro | October 2, 2013

The buzz around gamification has varied in intensity over the past few years, with many in the industry loudly extolling its virtues and a few a bit more dubious (and still others wondering whether gamification should really be a word, as we struggle against the powers of autocorrection). Mobile app developer QuickMobile, which has been bullish on the value of adding gaming to event apps, has just released a configurable gaming module to its standard single-event app product. What that means is that now, rather than working with QuickMobile to fully customize a game for attendees, event organizers can configure various aspects of the game themselves, using a game template with commonly requested features. That should save planners time, as well as money — the gaming module is a standard feature, included in the app package.

Since first introducing an attendee game in a 2010 app, QuickMobile has created games for "hundreds of events" each year, co-founder and CEO Patrick Payne told me. "What we've learned is that there are probably five or six different things that people are trying to do with these games over and over again at their events." By integrating those objectives into a standard module, Payne explained, "it can be set up and configured very quickly by the meeting planners themselves. It doesn't need any intervention or work from our side, on our development team."

Depending on how the game is configured and marketed, notes Payne, planners are likely to see much higher levels of engagement  via the app. For instance, in QuickMobile's very first game, one challenge required attendees to upload photos from their mobile devices; the number of uploads was 10 times that which QuickMobile was accustomed to seeing (150-200 photos) when there were no prizes on the line. As a result, more attendees were participating, and the requested content -- those photos -- provided a much richer online experience and reflection of the conference.

Payne mentions in-app surveys as well, as a source of attendee feedback. When those surveys are worth points to any attendee who fills them out, the rate of response is typically three to five times higher -- providing far more valuable feedback about sessions, keynotes and the like.

Other gaming features can be used to increase session attendance or punctuality, Payne noted, by requiring attendees to scan a QR code as they enter a session (on time). A QR reader is built into the app as well, to function with smartphone cameras.

A lot of event organizers are starting to experiment with in-app games, says Payne. "I'm fairly certain that well over 50 percent of our events are going to incorporate gaming in the not-too-distant future, and it will probably be considerably more than that. I could see that in the next year or so, almost every event will incorporate this kind of technology."

Have you added gaming to your event app, and if so, how many attendees participated? I'd love to hear about any experiences, positive or negative. You can post a comment here or send me an email.