Disrupting the Status Quo of Virtual Events, Interview with Rafayel Badalyan, Chief Innovation Officer at BetConstruct
As the gaming industry powers through the global crisis and pivots wherever necessary to ensure the stability of revenue, meeting people in one form or another remains paramount to its future.
Face to face human interactions can never be replaced, however, in the presence of global lockdown and social distancing measures, the world has been forced to rely on digital events.
In the wake of developing a new, innovative, and unique digital event platform, we caught up with Rafayel Badalyan, Chief Innovation Officer at BetConstruct to hear his thoughts on the future of the digital event landscape.
What are some of the ways a virtual event can offer unique experiences?
“The idea of a virtual event alone is unique in itself. It is more than a Zoom call but less than a face-to-face meeting. This in-between state peppered with the additional perks makes for a completely one-of-a-kind medium.
To begin with, it is financially and geographically accessible. More than half of the world’s population, which is already hundreds of millions of people, pay for the high-speed internet connection that can digitally take them anywhere.
Some of the people are browsing via their stationary PCs, others, probably halfway around the world, are comfortably sinking into their bean bags with laptops while the rest run around with tablets and smartphones. What binds them all is that they come together at a virtual event from the comfort of their own houses. Though the immersion levels differ, every single person shares one single experience which, depending on a device, is uniquely theirs.
Speaking of immersive experience, the basics that a virtual event can provide is a general event platform (may come as a room, studio, open space, hall etc.), conference rooms for larger virtual gathering within an event, i. e. for speeches or presentations, and meeting points for smaller groups of people.
This in itself produces a new kind of a social platform unique in its own way simply because unlike other social media, virtual platform replaces the mundane scrolling, liking and commenting with a close to real life 3D interaction.”
What are some of the common misconceptions about virtual events?
“Many still associate VR/AR with the heavy-weight retrofuturism-inspired hardware. That’s among the most common misconceptions around the technology.
The very headsets which, to say only a few years ago chained a user to the computer via the umbilical cord of cables, are now wireless and reduced to the size of a baseball cap with a hi-tech brim. And the quality of visuals has exceeded any expectations offering a smoother HD experience with minimum motion sickness.
However, for those who second-guess, the 3D-infused virtual events allow for hardware-free use on any device, be it a PC or a smartphone meaning the experience can be agile and mobile. Though none of the gadgets can teleport you to a physical expo (yet), the deployment of the technology can cover force majeure cases like the global pandemic outbreak.”
Can live events and virtual events co-exist?
“I don’t see how that can be bad. In fact, they can co-exist in symbiosis. While organizing the virtual East&West Expo on our PandaMR platform we drew much inspiration from years of attending igaming exhibitions and conventions.
We’ve adopted such practices as panel speaking and conferencing into our platform and came up with a digital solution for business cards, which essentially is saving the personal information of a fellow attendee in your contact list.
Live events in their turn can integrate virtual elements for entertainment purposes. The hologram singer trope – absurd to an extent, since it’s an equivalent of watching a recording – has firmly settled in the minds of pop-culture followers and on the global stages from Japan to the US. Want it or not, it works – the venues are full and the crowds are euphoric.”
Networking is one of the most important reasons to go to an event, how have you translated that into your virtual platform?
“We’ve incorporated any means of communication possible in the digital world to bring the virtual events on our platform closer to the real experience.
The conference rooms equipped with video call and screen sharing functions have a capacity of around 200 visitors. Private meeting rooms are available for smaller and more intimate business gatherings fitting up to 6 virtual persons. Within the venue video calls and chat, messages are available to all visitors.
More importantly, while registering, we ask our attendees to provide their contact details in a form that very much resembles a business card, so, in case there’s bad timing for a call or a chat, the visitors can save the bios of a person they’re interested in to contact them later.
In the best traditions of a conference, we’ve created an opportunity for panel discussions. And, of course, we cannot do without party zones. Built similar to conference rooms, party zone allows for live streaming of DJ sets or live orchestra, to name a few options. Unfortunately, we don’t have a solution for a bar. Yet.”
What does the future hold for the virtual event space?
“It will become bigger. As a phenomenon, as a platform and as a new way to socialize. Gradually the spaces will take up a more and more automated format. The SM giants like Facebook will perhaps join the hype by providing opportunities to go virtual and express oneself either in business, entertainment, or self-development purposes.”
Editors Note: As the novelty of the first wave of covid induced virtual events wear off, people are crying out for increased networking opportunities and general innovation, from what seems to be primarily a content platform.
The digital expertise of BetConstruct seems to have been harnessed to disrupt the status quo of the last few months. With a clear focus on ways the digital experience can enhance interactions (not just attempt to replicate), the platform represents an exciting time for innovation.
You can find and book your place at East and West Virtual Expo here