How Festivals Work Like Epic Games

Burgfest Post 3: Disruptive vs Integrative festival Experiences

Jousting about to take place at Burgfest

Festivals like games need a healthy balance on spaces that let you either be active or rest. Making up the active spaces is a wide range of dynamic experiences working in harmony, exactly as they do in games (game mechanics as it's called). Those experiences are either more disruptive or integrative, and are equally fun and important to the ecosystem of festivals .

I've developed the belief that integrative experiences are more sustainable and scalable, but the best result is a mix of both disruptive innovation and integration. Twitter-based urban games where you run around solving clues with your whole online social community helping you are great examples of that duality, not to mention the awesome PR potential they provide.

Examples at Burgfest:

Disruptive Experiences

Who: Street performers and rides

How: This group is dependent on finding a large group of people they can convert instantly into their audience. Their important function to festivals (like in games) is creating serendipity and spontaneity.

They either move from one location to the next seeking out sizeable congregations or they work the crowd where there is a steady stream of traffic. There's a fast turnaround of shows that interupts the traffic flow. Shows tend to be free or donation based but can be great PR for another event. 

Below: performer with a vegetable puppet theater and mechanically wound rides.


Integrative Experiences

Who: Bakers, warriors, stage bands etc

How: This group works with its audience, team members, competitors and anything else in the rich tapestry of the festival that surrounds them to make them more productive. The festival around them, and often even what goes on beyond the walls of the festival is their commercial network, world and often even their lifestyle. This model of operation is scalable.

This group builds their audience. They get started with a call to action in the morning, and they remain active in engaging their audience till the end of the day. Many remain in a productive flow between festivals, making the activity their lifestyle, one they enjoy greatly.