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Gamification Predictions for 2011

December 22, 2010

Introduction

At Mashable, Gabe Zichermann (@gzicherm) provided his 5 Predictions for Game Mechanics in 2011.  Gabe’s article inspired me to provide my own predictions.

A New Name in 2011

In the second half of 2010, the term “gamification” became bi-polar: you either loved it or hated it.  People on the “love” side see it as the future of engagement and marketing.  People on the “hate” side see it as a gimmick.

Gabe provides his thoughts in an article at Huffington Post.  While the term is effective in capturing the essence, it’s not perfect.  As a result, “gamification” will be used less and less in 2011.  In its place will be a set of new terms, based on its specific applications (e.g. game-based marketing, game-based social initiatives, etc.).

A Sub-Industry Develops


This is more an observation, rather than a prediction (since it’s already happening): an industry has developed around “gamification”.  When folks convene for a conference or summit, that’s my measuring stick to tell me that an industry is emerging.  In the virtual events space, that happened in 2009 with the Virtual Edge Summit (which, by the way, has its third annual conference, also in January 2011).

If you look at the sponsor and speaker lists for this event, you’ll see a number of start-ups who built their business around gamification.  In 2011, we’ll see some “bubble like” behavior (perhaps we’re already seeing it now), where entrepreneurs look to build the next great gamification companies.  In the second half of 2011, however, the bubble settles and the early winners emerge.

Related: Gamification gets its own conference (VentureBeat)

Game Mechanics for The Greater Good

Jane McGonigal of Palo Alto-based Institute for the Future once said, “Any time I consider a new project, I ask myself, is this pushing the state of gaming toward Nobel Prizes? If it’s not, then it’s not doing anything important enough to spend my time.” (source: Salon.com article from 2007).

In 2011, we’ll see game mechanics applied increasingly to the “greater good” – initiatives that can change the world.

Armchair Revolutionary is a great example – consider one of their slogans, “shape the future by playing a game”.  In 2011, lots of “revolutionaries” emerge to rally those who can, to provide help to those in need.

Game Mechanics Go Mainstream – But Consumers Don’t Know It

Game mechanics are going mainstream, but the typical user won’t know that they’re participating in them.  They simply know that they’re engaging in enjoyable activities (side note: there will be similar growth in Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., but users, of course, won’t know that they’re using “location based services”).

For example, Universal Studios announced successful sales of their “Despicable Me” DVD – their press release attributes some of the success to a “Minions Madness” promotion, “a points-based reward and social media program spotlighting the film’s beloved mischief-makers, the Minions.” This promotion was powered by Bunchball, a game mechanics start-up.

Bunchball (and related companies) has built a nice client list of broadcast networks, cable networks and film studios.  In 2011, additional media outlets come on board.  Game mechanics  go more and more mainstream, even though the typical mainstream user doesn’t know it.  Watch out in 2012, however, as consumer-based game mechanics suffer some fatigue (as consumers then see “much too much” of it).

Established Web Players Incorporate Game Mechanics

2011 sees established players incorporate game mechanics to increase engagement (e.g. “time on site”, clicks, e-commerce sales, etc.).

Google adopts game mechanics as a means for bridging their search business and social services (e.g. adding game mechanics to Google Me). Others who add game mechanics include Netflix, eBay and Groupon.  Of course, it’s natural to expect that more and more virtual event experiences will add game mechanics, too.

Conclusion

2010 has been an interesting year for gamification. 2011 will kick off with an industry event and where we go from there will be exciting to watch.  I’ll check back mid-year with a report card on these predictions. Here’s hoping I attain the “crystal ball badge”.

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It’s All Virtual Turns Two

December 12, 2010

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

It all started two years ago today.  The first blog post was made on December 12, 2008.  Since that time, I’ve covered virtual trade shows, hybrid events, virtual worlds, Second Life, social media and many other topics.  It’s been a fun ride to date, but I’m even more excited about what the next 2 or 5 years will bring.  For now, let’s take a look back at five selected posts from the past two years.

What Started It All


My first post, from December 2008, looked ahead to 2009.  It was titled “2009: The Year We Go Virtual“.  I was mostly on target with this post, except for that innocent comment where I noted that face-to-face event producers would struggle to survive.  I should have known that physical events would never go away – and, I hadn’t considered what would follow in 2009/2010, the hybrid event.  Whoops.

Lenovo’s 3D World, Powered by web.alive


This posting, from January 2009, remains today the top grossing piece on this blog.  Lenovo launched a 3D world to promote their Thinkpad notebooks.  It used the web.alive 3D platform from Nortel (and is now part of Avaya, via Avaya’s acquisition of Nortel).  While touring the environment, I met Nic Sauriol, the Venture Lead for the project and he took  me on a personal tour.  Read more: “Review: Lenovo’s eLounge Virtual World“.

Musings on Physical Events & Virtual Events

(Photo courtesy of “ExhibitPeople” on flickr)

Physical events have been around for a long time.  So I decided to write about what we like at physical events and consider how those “features” could work in a virtual event.  I didn’t expect it at the time, but this turned out to be one of the most popular postings this year.  For more: “Bringing The Physical Event Experience To Virtual Events“.

Whose Platform Do I Use?

Once you’ve decided to do a virtual event, one of the key steps is finding the right virtual event platform.  In my Virtual Events 101 series, the most popular posting was this one: “Virtual Events 101: Tips For Selecting A Virtual Event Platform“.  For me, it comes down to the 6 P”s – People, Platform, Production, Price, Process and Partners.

Branching Out A Bit

Branching out from virtual events, I shared some thoughts on the topics of social gaming, location-based services, “gamification” and loyalty programs.  In the coming 1-3 years, gamification, location services and virtual events will come together (via API’s and integration).  On the gamification front, it’s noteworthy that San Francisco will be home to the Gamification Summit in January 2011.  For the full post: “The Name Of The Game Is Engagement“.

Conclusion

It’s been a great two years.  It’s hard to imagine what the (virtual) “world” will look like in another two years.  There’s one thing for sure: I’ll be blogging about it.  Come along for the journey and subscribe to regularly receive my posts.  Until next time!


FountainBlue’s Virtual Worlds Annual Conference (2010)

August 11, 2010

On September 24th 2010, FountainBlue will hold its “Second Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry Event” on Cisco’s campus in Milpitas, CA (USA).  The title of the event is:

Virtual Worlds: Where We Were, Where We’re Going, What Does It Mean to YOU?

Register to Attend

The conference will host three panels of virtual worlds experts and thought leaders – one on industry trends facilitate by Jeff Pope (Founding Partner, Spark Sky Ventures), another featuring industry entrepreneurs and facilitated by Nina Gerwin (Founder, The NRG Group) and one that I’m facilitating on corporate use of virtual worlds.

Linda Holroyd, Founder and CEO of FountainBlue answered a few questions about FountainBlue and this virtual worlds event:

Q: Tell us about FountainBlue.

A: FountainBlue stimulates collaborative innovation one conversation, one leader, one organization at a time, through our monthly events, our dynamic communities, and our strategic and business development consulting services for early stage clean energy, high tech and life science entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Q: Who should attend this conference?

A: This conference is for virtual worlds and other high tech entrepreneurs involved in or interested in this hot space, for intrapreneurs involved with virtual worlds solutions building brand and serving customers, and investors interested in investing in this space.

Q: Why should they attend?

A: FountainBlue events are known both for the quality of the speakers and program, but also for the value of the quality, win-win, long-term connections created. Both are highly valued in creating an entrepreneurial community in this exciting area.

Q: On virtual worlds and “where we’re going”, what is your opinion?

A: The opportunities in virtual worlds brings together the best of enterprise solutions which automate business process to better serve customers at all levels, the best of social media and its capacity to expand audiences virally leveraging technology, and the best of gaming with its fanatical appeal to extremely loyal customers. It is a hot Web 3.0 opportunity, which takes the technology, community, and monetizing potential of Web 2.0 to the next level.

Q: Tell us about other upcoming events from FountainBlue?

A: FountainBlue produces monthly events for clean energy and life science entrepreneurs as well as a Tech2Green series for executives transitioning into the clean energy industry and a When She Speaks Women in Leadership series, supporting women entrepreneurs and leaders. We run annual events for the high tech entrepreneurs in our community, which includes an annual freemium-to-premium event, an annual M&A event, an annual data analytics event, as well as an annual virtual worlds conference – this one, which we are conducting for the second consecutive year. We facilitate the cross-over between communities in support of entrepreneurial ventures.

Q: How do you support early stage entrepreneurs beyond connecting them through regular events?

A: FountainBlue supports entrepreneurs through one-on-one strategic and business development consulting for early stage clean energy, high tech (including virtual worlds) and life science entrepreneurs. We help our founders develop and refine business models and strategies and work with founders to build momentum with initial customers and strategic partnerships.

FountainBlue’s Virtual Worlds Annual Conference

Topic: Virtual Worlds: Where We Were, Where We’re Going, What Does It Mean to YOU?
Date & time: Friday, September 24, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m PT
Location: Cisco, Great Dane Conference Room at MCCARTHY RANCH 3 (SJCMR3), 155 North McCarthy Blvd., Milpitas, CA
Cost: Register by September 22 at noon: $42 members, $52 partners, $62 general
Late and On-Site Registration: $62 for members, $32 for non-members
Registration: http://www.svvirtualworlds.com by 9/22 at noon
Audience: Entrepreneurs, Intrapreneurs and Investors only. No service providers please.

Description
FountainBlue’s Second Annual State of the Virtual Worlds Industry conference updates entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs and investors on the successes, challenges and trends of the industry overall, and showcases corporate and entrepreneurial virtual world demos. Beginning with a panel sharing the growth of the industry from the legal, venture, research and corporate perspectives, the program will next highlight how leading corporations are leveraging virtual worlds solutions to better serve their constituents, and culminating in showcasing early stage, funding-bound virtual worlds entrepreneurs with a range of solutions pushing the technology and business envelope.

Agenda

8:30 Registration and Networking

9:00 Welcomes and Thank Yous

9:15 Trends in the Virtual Worlds Industry: An Update on What’s New and What’s Coming

Facilitator Jeff Pope, Founding Partner, Spark Sky Ventures
Tim Chang, Principal, Norwest Ventures
David Helgason, CEO and Co-Founder, Unity
Chris Platz, Creative Director and Art Lead, Stanford Sirikata Labs
Eilif Trondsen, Research and Program Director of the Virtual Worlds @ Work Consortium at Strategic Business Insights
Mark Wallace, Conversation Manager, Linden Lab

10:20  Morning Break

10:35 Corporate Panel: Serving Customers, Building Communities, Training Users

Facilitator Dennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing, INXPO
Mic Bowman, Intel
Dannette Veale, Global Virtual Event Strategist, Cisco, Lead, Virtual Component, Cisco Live
Another Corporate Presenter to be confirmed

11:40   Lunch and Networking

12:30   Entrepreneur Panel: The Tools, The Goods, The Immersion Experience

Facilitator Nina Gerwin, The NRG Group
Michael Gold, CEO, Electrotank:
Steve Hoffman, CEO, Rocketon: virtual world for tweeners
Albert Kim, CEO, Zenitum: Augmented reality with 3D displays
Jim Parker, CEO, Digitell: SaaS 3D immersive virtual events and virtual training
Reuben Steiger, Founder and Chairman, Virtual Greats

1:30 Adjourn and Further Networking and Corporate Exhibits and Entrepreneur Showcases open until 2:00

For more information and to register, visit http://www.svvirtualworlds.com.

Thank You to Our Sponsors:
We are grateful to our sponsors at Cisco for their ongoing sponsorship of FountainBlue’s annual virtual world’s conference.

(Technorati code: 2KFW26VPVNTT)

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Social Gaming And Virtual Events

July 19, 2010

Michelle Bruno (@michellebruno) wrote an excellent article about social gaming in Trade Show News Network (TSNN.com) – I was interviewed by Michelle for the article.  Michelle covers the emergence of social games, including their incorporation into virtual events platform, like INXPO (my employer).

Michelle concludes her article with some compelling thoughts.  First, there’s this:

“As traditional methods of marketing and engagement wane in effectiveness and popularity, social gaming strategies fit nicely into two current trends in the event industry: the ‘social media-ization’ of nearly every technology solution and the blending of the online and offline event worlds.”

These trends play off one another nicely – as social media (and associated tools) are quite effective in blending online and offline event experiences.  I love Michelle’s closing line:

“Social gaming in the event industry could be the spark that ignites a new generation of trade show attendees.”

Love it.

Here’s the full link to the article: http://www.tsnn.com/blog/?p=2692

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2009 Year In Review: Virtual Events

December 24, 2009

2009 was a landmark year for the virtual events industry – early adopters expanded their virtual event initiatives and leveraged the technology in innovative ways.  Many industries (and associated corporations) entered the mix, producing their first ever virtual event in 2009.  Despite the economy (or perhaps aided by the downturn), virtual event platform providers enjoyed healthy growth in client demand, event volume and revenue.  The platform market expanded beyond the U.S., with the emergence of new platforms in Europe and New Zealand.  We even had the industry’s first ever face-to-face event, the Virtual Edge Summit (U.S. – Santa Clara, CA).

To get a better sense of how 2009 unfolded, I reviewed the past 12 months of postings on this blog and sought to categorize the trends and patterns.

Source: flickr (User: Linzi's Cakes)

Assorted Shapes and Sizes

In the early days, the industry was all about virtual tradeshows.  During 2007-2008, new event types were spawned – and in 2009, we saw many more instances of non-tradeshow events: virtual job fairs, virtual sales meetings, virtual partner summits.  In addition, we saw innovative concepts applied in hybrid events – where event planners staged concurrent physical and virtual events.  I wrote about learnings and observations from Cisco Live and Networkers Virtual, in which virtual and physical blended together.  In 2010, I expect to see many more hybrid events, with event planners leveraging creative ways to tie virtual together with physical.  In fact, I believe 2010 will be The Year of The Hybrid Event.

In addition to the assorted event types – we’re starting to see the use of virtual event technology to support ongoing business communities.  The community concept makes a lot of sense in conjunction with physical or virtual events – instead of “going dark” between live event dates, event planners can leverage the “platform” to keep the community interaction and dialog going – where the events serve as “momentum points” to drive continued activity within the online business community.  I brainstormed about tactics that could be applied to sustain virtual business community loyalty.

Social Media and Twitter

With all due respect to Facebook and other services, I believe 2009 was The Year of Twitter.  There are many ways in which Twitter can be leveraged for virtual events – here are a few ideas that I blogged about:

  1. Leverage Twitter for Virtual Tradeshow Outreach
  2. How to Promote Your Virtual Event on Twitter
  3. Leverage Twitter Lists for your Physical or Virtual Event

Virtual event platforms have integrated with Twitter and other social networks – in 2010, I see the breadth and depth of integration expanding.  The expansion will be fueled both by interest (from the virtual event platforms and from clients) as well as richer interfaces (APIs) from the social network sites.  For instance, LinkedIn recently announced an open API for their platform.

In parallel to virtual events, 2009 was a watershed year for social gaming (e.g. Zynga, Playdom and other sites).  In 2010, we’ll see virtual event platforms leverage gaming for a mix of fun and business use.  I wrote about the reasons that virtual events should incorporate gaming.  Lastly, I believe the tried and true webinar needs to become more social – webinars need to encourage and support more participation from the audience.

The market extends beyond the U.S.

In 2009, virtual events platform vendors emerged globally – in order of appearance in this blog:

  1. ExpoNZ – New Zealand
  2. IMASTE – Spain
  3. Ubivent – Germany

I expect to see a few more virtual event platforms emerge in Europe in 2010 – Asia Pac is sure to see local entrants as well.

Virtual Event Best Practices

I wrote a lot about virtual event best practices in the past 12 months. Here’s a selection of the more popular postings:

  1. Virtual Event Best Practices
  2. How to Market your Virtual Event
  3. Best Practices for Virtual Tradeshow Exhibitors
  4. Lead Follow-Up for Virtual Events
  5. Assemble the Right Team for your Virtual Event
  6. Increase Your Virtual Event ROI
  7. Think Outside the Inbox for Virtual Event Promotion
  8. How to Run a Virtual Event Command Center

Happy Holidays to all.  2009 was a great year for virtual events.  And I have news for you – 2010 will be even better!


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