Gamification Got Me Drunk – Bar Gamification

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Bar Gamification

Bar Gamification

A few weekends ago I was in Seattle visiting some friends. We stumbled into a bar called Von’s on Pine St. Immediately I noticed a giant wheel mounted on the wall in the back of the restaurant. It read, “Wagering Wheel is spun every 30 minutes. Ask your server for a spin.” Each set of pegs on the wheel corresponded to a different drink special.

The Result

The three of us sat there for 4 hours, watching the wheel randomly select 8 different drink specials (prices ranging from $3.50 to $5.00). Each of us took a spin at some point. We tried to cheat the system and land on specific drinks. At the end of the night, the restaurant didn’t care. They had three very satisfied customers with a $200 tab.

Why It Works

1.) Random

There were a total of 16 different drink specials on the wheel. The random outcome provided an engaging level of excitement and kept us there for hours.

2.) Winner Every Time

In reality, the drink specials were far from “special.” The restaurant only discounted the drinks .50 to 1.00 in most cases. It didn’t really matter, the discount still made the drinks taste like a deal. Spacing the spins out every 30 minutes gave us time to finish the drinks before the next option was available. Genius.

3.) Group Participation

Not only did the waitress give us the ability to physically participate by spinning the wheel, the entire restaurant watched as the wheel slowly chose their alcohol fate. After all, the special would apply to them as well. The group mentality kept in fun for everyone, not just the spinner.


Adding sometime as simple as a wheel could convert your one round guests to ten round patrons. What could you add to your restaurant or bar to encourage specific spending and increase engagement?

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