In a nutshell:
- 8 engaging community event ideas and 10 types of rewards
- Words of advice to help you run outstanding events
- Event planning checklist for your game community
If you're a noob to the game community manager life or involved in kickstarting a brand new game community, chances are you’re looking for event ideas that will help you promote some excitement.
And this is where community building gets seriously fun—because you get to cook up and dish out all kinds of eventful activities to keep everyone engaged.
8 Community Event Ideas To Promote Engagement
For those in need of inspiration for the next (or first!) event in a game community, we've set our GCM team to work brainstorming some solid conceptions.
You can use the different types of events, competitions, rewards, and prizes we've compiled here to foster vibrant and creative communities full of loyal players.
So without further ado, here are eight creative event ideas you can use add some spice to your community.
- Art Competition. To borrow words from the wonderful Jaymee Mak: “Art brings people together.” We’ve found this gem of an event idea to be one of the most popular engagements, and it often delivers outstanding results!
- Fan Fiction Competition. While this event type may be a little more time-consuming, it might be just the droid… I mean, challenge certain hard-core fans are looking for. Just be sure to offer a more substantial reward in return for players’ time commitment—similar to what you might offer for the comic strip competition..
- Comic Strip Competition. Why not take things a little further and combine ideas one and two? A comic strip competition is often a perfect way to promote fan creativity, and we at GCM can guarantee that a solid number of people enjoy a good panel or two.
- Poetry Competition. Ballad, haiku, limerick—you name it! Set a theme for the event, or don’t. Get in and get wording!
- Character or Level Design. Depending on the type of games you’re running and what they cover, having fans compete to design new characters or pitch the next level idea can be an awesome way to get them intimately involved with the content. Such an event gives players a sense of ownership, makes them feel all the more connected, and provides you and your team with some potentially fresh ideas—all at the same time! Multi-win.
- Cosplay or Costume Competition. This fun sort of fuss is likely to be most successful when participants are given ample time to prepare, and competitions are synchronized with big calendar events such as Halloween or conventions like PAX and Comic-Con.
- Caption This! One word: memes.
- Bake ‘n’ Make Competition. All you need to love baking is an appetite for freshly made goodies. So send your peeps to the kitchen and have them get creative! It can be related to your game or simply for fun, just make sure they send in photos!
Pro Tip: You can share the best content from your contests on the developer website or social media pages to give winners a sense of ownership and personal connection to the game.
10 Ideas For Prizes And Rewards
Now that we’ve covered some awesome community event ideas, let’s talk prizes!
- Everybody loves swag. We love swag! T-shirts, mugs, onesies, plushies, and more are a perfect way to motivate players. Go ahead and go nuts!
- In-game deliverables. Consider game keys and in-game items such as currency, skins, and rare loot you can offer—always a great way to get avid players on board with your event.
- Tournament Invitation. If it's how your game works (think Forts or Armello), tournaments can be one of the best ways to bring players together—especially if you can organize teams. Now arranging a tournament as a competition would be quite an endeavor, but offering winners of a competition the chance to compete against the devs? That’s the bee's knees, right there.
- Invitation to be a guest on your livestream. Another rad way to reward winners is by offering them a moment of fame and inviting them to guest feature on your livestream. And if you don’t already have a livestream going, consider it! It’s yet another great way to engage the fans.
- Signed merch. Get your dev team to sign prize items before sending them out!
- Naming rights. Have a new character in your game named or modelled after a winning player.
- Bragging rights. If a player helps with or contributes content that you use in the game, put their name in the credits.
- Meet 'n' greet. A real rarity: invite the stars of your event to say hello to your devs. This could be in person or via video chat; it’s sure to be a hot ticket either way.
- Studio tour. An epic prize: the chance to wander around the studio and see how your favorite game is made!
- Group win (localized). Legendary prize! Have an entire winning team come to the studio and test out a new game or have a go at some unseen content. Bonus: it will help your QA and design direction as well!
Things To Look Out For
When planning events, it’s important to be aware of potential issues. You’ve got to know your audience and be prepared to deal with them. Here are some tips to help you out.
- Plagiarism and fakes. Be wary: there will always be folks who try to claim worth through others’ efforts. Unfortunately, competition submissions are no exception. We’ve seen individuals re-submit other people’s entries; some even thought they could pull off entering open source (and licensed) content.
- Complaints. Don't be disheartened when people get grouchy. There will always be players who get uppity about losing but that doesn't detract from what made the event worthwhile.
- Feedback. Having said that about complaints, do make an effort to look past emotional outbursts and uncover the feedback that can be of value to you when running your next event.
- Bullies and negativity. Don't tolerate them: be strict on enforcing your community rules.
Pro Tip: Ask community members who are involved in the competition to help you keep an eye out for foul play. You’re all in it to have fun together, so encourage players to help keep it fair and enjoyable for all.
Game Community Event Planning Checklist
Here are a few closing words of advice in the form of a simple checklist you can follow when planning an event for your game community.
- Be prepared. Grab your favorite clipboard or app and plan ahead!
- Be clear. Make sure the rules and requirements, process of selection, deadlines, and community etiquette are known to all from the start.
- Stay on top of submissions. And update your records regularly. Depending on how popular the event is, regularly might mean several times a day.
- Acknowledge everyone! Or try to. It’s a sad feeling when you feel like you’ve been missed. Think about how that might impact the community and experience as a whole.
- Have backup. If you're not sure how many submissions will come in, arrange to have people on standby before the window. If you get flooded when it opens, they can help you stay on top.
- Make the reward worth the effort. If you were asked to give up your kidney in exchange for a trip to candy mountain, would you do it? Keep the rewards interesting and, well, rewarding. If you can, make them personalized.
- Promote your players! Feature key milestones and extraordinary content on all channels, and tag the person responsible where you can.
On that note: if you want to tag players, you'll have to cover this in the Terms and Conditions of your competition or event. In our experience, this is certainly worth doing and makes players feel super valued.
Originally written for the GCM: Game Community Management Hub and posted on 11 September 2019.
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