Another week, another episode of #EventIcons! And since hybrid is one everyone's mind lately, we thought we'd bring you something exciting. This week, we'll be talking about interactive gaming experiences for hybrid and virtual events. Yes - because even during a hybrid experience, you still have the virtual aspect! So it seems only fitting that we dive into a conversation about entertainment. After all, who doesn't love games? It's one of the best ways for people to connect, engage, and network. Joining our incredible host Stephanie Jayko is the one and only Gary Bordman. And Gary is one of the industry's go-to when it comes to creating interactive experiences. He's been "bringing the fun" to events and conventions all across the United Sates for two decades. There's a reason why people tend to say "just call Gary!" when a cool and out-of-the-box idea is needed - it's because he's the man you want on your team. So, as the Chief Interactive Designer for Amusement, Exhibit & Event Services, Gary has a lot to teach about interactive gaming experiences for hybrid and virtual events. Because he too learned to pivot like a champ! Bringing The Fun To The Hybrid & Virtual Spaces Just like many other professionals in the industry, Gary and his team had to take a step back. When it was announced that in-person events would be on hold for some time, the wheels started to turn in his head. How could he take the fun provided by games, rides, and activations, and make it work in a virtual\/hybrid setting? Thankfully, Gary is quite the creative mind. For instance, one of the things his company his doing right now consists of creating a poker and casino game experience for a client. They're actually using the real tables, with the player positions on their side, while the people involved join through Zoom to play. How cool is that?! Another great idea AE&ES came up with that you can consider for your hybrid event involves the concept of an escape room. We all heard of them, and you probably know someone that joined the experience once or twice. Well, Gary's team built an entire escape room of their own in a storage room and installed cameras. This way, they can have attendees from a certain hybrid event logging in and enter the game by helping the person or small groups of people escape. Talk about creativity! The Importance of Working With The Clients Even though Gary is a genius when it comes to interactive gaming experiences for hybrid and virtual events, he also stresses another important point. And that is working with what the client has. Because we all know that each event will work with its own virtual event platform - and there are many out there! So what Gary and the team at AE&ES do when crafting these experiences is taking the time to learn about the platform. What are the features? What's possible? How can we harness X or Y in order to create an immersive environment that engages and entertains the attendees? Learning about the technology behind a virtual or hybrid event goes a long way! What Does The Future Hold? The next big thing will be hybrid events, that's a given. And this means that planners will now have to bring together their collective knowledge about the in-person and virtual spaces. Only by combining these two will you be able to come up with a holistic solution that works for attendees joining face-to-face and remotely. Where interactive gaming experiences for hybrid events are concerned, Gary already has some aces up his sleeve. Things like Augmented Reality photo ops and virtual photo boots that use the same background as the in-person space are his big bet. With the latter, everybody has a shared experience where it seems like they're all in the same space! He also mentions things like dome systems that can be brought into a ballroom for hybrid events - experiences like racing, flight simulators, and so on can easily be elevated with the use of wind effects and temperature changes. Interactive Gaming Experiences For Hybrid And Virtual Events: Final Thoughts And we're wrapping up yet another incredible episode of #EventIcons! Clearly the technology available will allow planners to create fun and interactive gaming experiences for hybrid and virtual events. There's no stopping your creativity, particularly if you're ready to jump on the hybrid events bandwagon. Make sure you tune in again next week for another edition of #EventIcons!