by Tom Isler | December 01, 2007

Two customized games
Booth bonuses:
Two customized games

Attendees at the ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership annual meeting this summer might have noticed a permanent crowd around the Bloomington (Minn.) Convention and Visitors Bureau booth. The attraction, aside from the city itself, was a video game similar to NBC-TV’s Deal or No Deal, developed by the Minneapolis-based event production company metroConnections to help hawk Bloomington as a bargain for planners. Contestants each chose a shopping bag (a symbol for Bloomington’s Mall of America) containing an unknown amount of money and then began eliminating the remaining bags, weighing a succession of buyout offers against the value of their bag.

David Graves, senior vice president of metroConnections, says simple video games (the rules of which can be understood in a few seconds) are attendee magnets and include a multitude of opportunities to customize and communicate a marketing message. An insurance company, for example, once ordered a game in which a superhero had to evade fireballs tagged with industry problems like “High risk!” A software company that used the terms “workhorse” and “thoroughbred” in an ad campaign asked for a steeplechase game.

Simple but addictive card or dice games or trivia challenges also keep attendees coming back, Graves says. At trade shows, exhibitors can corner those waiting in line or nab players after their turn for a chat.

Customers usually spend between $5,000 and $15,000 for a game package, including development, A/V equipment and on-site support.