Can Annual Conference offer fun and games?

Gamification: the process of adding games or gamelike elements to something (such as a task) so as to encourage participation.

The 2018 Eastern PA Annual Conference will be unlike any before it, probably in various ways but most assuredly in its unprecedented combination of work and play. Members will mix the usual agenda of serious information and inspiration with a light-hearted quest for points and prizes. In a word, we will “gamify” it.

Oh, and in the famous words of Apple’s Steve Jobs, “There’s one more thing…” We will introduce our first use of a mobile event application, or app, at this annual conference session. It’s a simple community engagement tool that enables an organization to effortlessly communicate with and involve conference attendees in activities—like games—through their mobile digital devices.

With information at their fingertips, the mobile app will keep conference members informed about registered attendees, documents, exhibitors, sponsors, featured speakers, the conference schedule and offerings.

For many members, Annual Conference ’18 may well live up to its four uplifting event themes in several ways. All may indeed be Changed, Connected, Present and Sent through the movement of the Holy Spirit. However, those who use the new mobile app to also participate in the simple but engaging contests offered may find their minds changed and less hesitant to use digital applications.

They may also find themselves more connected and more present with fellow conference members as they share photos, quizzes, contact information and tweets.  And they may be sent wandering through the conference center in search of QR codes to rack up points with their eyes set on a first-place prize.

It’s all about making Annual Conference more fun and exciting—two words rarely used to describe our yearly membership gathering on the whole. The excitement will come for those who engage fully in “Scavenging for Connections,” a contest of participation in minor and major activities undertaken to score points, by scanning QR codes, that add up inside the mobile app.    

A visit to an exhibitor’s table counts for 10 points in the new mobile app scavenger game.  Paul Davis photo. (2017 AC)

Activities can be as passive as checking in at an exhibitor’s table, exchanging contact information,  attending clergy and laity sessions, or completing a quiz or survey. More robust activities that score higher points include reaching 8,000 steps on one’s pedometer or Fitbit, or challenging Cabinet members to a hula-hoop duel. (See related story on the Hulapalooza.) In all cases, one need only scan the nearby QR code or write in an assigned code number to earn points.

You can also upload photos to the mobile app. But they must be photos taken onsite that illustrate something about any of the four parts of our conference’s official Mission Statement; and they must be uploaded with a hashtag to earn points. Those Mission Statement hashtag themes are: #CreatingDisciples; #CelebratingDiversity; #ConnectingCommunities; and #CommittingtoLoveandJustice. If you see any scenes at Annual Conference that seem to portray these missional values, then simply take a smartphone photo and upload them to the app.

Also, you can score bonus points by having photos taken of yourself hula-hooping if you upload them to the mobile app with the hashtag #GetMovingEPAUMC. Each conference member can get a free hula-hoop when they arrive to use … if they dare.

The mobile app will tally all points; and three top prizes will be awarded on Saturday morning to the persons earning the most points. They will include a free annual conference registration for 2019, a $150 gift certificate to Cokesbury’s online store, and a $50 gift card.

Learn more about the Scavenging for Connections game in the instructions below:

Scavenging for Connections Instructions

Throughout the annual conference, you will have the opportunity to acquire points by performing in-App activities.  Each activity has a point value assignment and the App will keep track of the points you earn.

How to earn Points:  

  • Scanning QR codes (found throughout the event) or entering the requested numeric code which will be supplied throughout the event. You will earn different amounts of points for different types of actions:
  • 10 points – Check in at an exhibitor table.
  • 20 points – Earn “passive” points for picking up materials, attending the clergy and laity sessions, and attending presentations.
  • 30 points Earn “active” points when you get moving for your health! Achieving 8000 steps is the goal. One way you can do that is by picking up your free hula-hoop and challenging the Cabinet and any youth to a hula-hoop duel! Another way is to walk the exhibitor area! Check in at the registration area once per day to verify (with your phone pedometer, fitbit, etc.) that you have reached 8,000 steps, which earns you 30 points each day.  
  • Upload photos (10 points each) reflecting each of the four mission statement themes of our conference: Creating Disciples, Celebrating Diversity, Connecting Communities, and Committing to Love and Justice. You will acquire points for each photo upload. (Up to 5 uploads per theme per day will earn points). Additionally, a first, second and third prize winner will be selected for each theme and the winners will be granted bonus points.  
    • To submit photos for each theme, add the appropriate hashtags in the description of your uploaded photo (Note: this applies to in-app photos only, not photos posted and tagged only on Twitter):
      • #CreatingDisciples
      • #CelebratingDiversity
      • #ConnectingCommunities
      • #LoveAndJustice
      • BONUS: #GetMovingEPAUMC – tag your photos when you use your hula-hoop and get active! 
  • Do any of the following: 
    • 10 points – Create A Note
    • 10 points – Make a Contact Exchange
    • 10 points – Complete a Quiz
    • 10 points – Send A Message
    • 10 points – Complete a Survey
    • 10 points – Tweet (each tweet is 10 points! So Tweet away! Maximum of 30 tweets per day!)
    • 30 points – Tweets that are learning lessons from any speaker or learning session. Remember to tag your Annual Conference tweets with #epaumc18 so we can find them!

You will be able to track your progress in this healthy competition by checking the leaderboard within the App. 


Main photo
: The Revs. Johnson Dodla and Amy Banka having fun at Annual Conference 2017.    Rev. Steward Warner photo