The 2015 Gamification Conference was the last of a series of events taking place in Budapest between the 6th and the 9th of October. Stepping out of the cold wind, and into the warm H13 building, I look upstairs at the small room the Mind the Game volunteers were stationed in yesterday preparing for the urban game. Today´s event would be different. As I´m looking up, Szilvi, co-founder of Mindspace welcomes me to the Conference. It will take place in the large room just below the entrance of the building, but first I must sign in and get my headphones for the live translation of the talks.
Walking down the stairs, I hear the buzz of people speaking. It´s sometimes daunting entering a room full of strangers but the homey smell of fresh bread and coffee are enough to put me well at ease. I see the familiar faces of some participants from last night´s Game. I also see many other new faces drinking their morning drink, engrossed in conversation. As I walk between the high tables set up in the back of the room, I realize these participants are exchanging project information, contacts, ideas and aspirations for a better city. Budapest´s or their own. There was real networking and knowledge exchange going on. Much more efficient and fluid than it might have been had this morning´s session been tagged as “networking” in the Conference´s program.
The Conference presentations all revolve around methods and ideas to turn mundane tasks- doing biology homework, sightseeing, or creating strong neighborhood relations- into efficient and results-based actions. The Conference also tackled the longstanding issues of policy outreach and urban improvement plans, all through the use of gamified solutions.
I was struck by all of the ingenious ideas and products described by each speaker. But I was even more surprised at how the static and structured Power Point presentations were interweaved with the most productive parts of any type of conference: the parts between the talks where people can share ideas and discuss. The organizers took this informal networking experience even further by inviting all participants to a post-Conference Party held at Lumen Café. This promoted casual but fruitful interactions between entrepreneurs, stakeholders and young minds with hopes for a better city. My only hope for next year´s Conference is to involve somebody from the policymaking domain.
The Conference unrolled in the true Mindspace fashion: Formal organization with key objectives to be reached but executed in a natural and unceremonious setting. This ensured our most relaxed, and hence most productive selves were present and ready to enact change.
Text: Denise Celeghin
Photo: Győző Horváth