Do you always wonder what happens in a Hackathon? Is it just for the nerds who can code for their living? Do you think you aren’t good enough to attend one? Or are rather scared of the idea?
I have been on the same boat until I attended one myself! But let me tell you up front, it is SUPER FUN!!
As a student studying Computer Science in my final year, it was high time I broke the ice with one of these super long coding sessions. Thanks to NJIT, I attended the annual Hackathon called HackNJIT. Luckily we got an extra hour because of daylight saving. The theme was to build anything you want.
How did it start?
After some boring introductory speeches, we kicked into the juicy part (yes, there were a lot of juices too!)
In case one did not have a team, they could come up and discuss their ideas and find teammates, I already had a team who I had forced to be a part of this. (They don’t curse me now, I’m serious!)
We did not have an idea of what we wanted to build, which resulted in wasting a couple of hours in ideation, but we got there. We all shared a common interest in gaming (we play a lot of games and you can’t beat me in Fifa). So we decided that we wanted to make a game for this hackathon.
Building a game sounds very exciting and trust me the process is exciting too!
Game? Wow! What was it?
We, like many other students, were not fond of a few professors for very regular and unimportant reasons. (No it was not because of bad grades, trust me). We thought of making an endless runner game (Like those Subway Surfers and Temple Run, but without the fancy graphics).
The idea: The player will run endlessly in the college campus (helps burn some calories too!) and dodge professors coming their way. If the player hits the professor, they are presented with a set of questions. Answer it wrong and you lose.
Power-ups in the game? Beer Mugs!
Tools and Technology
(If you would like to know how we built the game and the source code for it, let me know in the comments, I can write another article for it)
What did we learn?
- Never go unprepared: If you want to make the most of the Hackathons, always go with an idea that you can quickly jump on.
- Network: Talk to people about their ideas. It’s okay if your idea isn’t great, its always great to know what others are working on.
- Collaborate and Code: A great exercise for us to divide and conquer and put together what we learnt in those soft-skills classes.
- Can’t forget, Unity: There was a lot of Unity in the Hackathon (forgive my bad jokes)
- Sleep well before the hackathon: So you don’t sleep when everyone’s breathing code.
Did I forget the fun we had?
There were games at regular intervals to keep everyone awake like cup stacking competitions. And also, pizzas and coffee shots! You need that caffeine in you if you want to write code for straight 25 hours.
Free T-shirts and swag!! There were many sponsors for the event with their t-shirts and swag, after all, who doesn’t love free stuff?
At the end of it, there were demos and presentations of the products everyone built in the hackathon, but since this was my first hackathon, I wasn’t looking forward to this. But maybe next time, I sure will compete for it. But hey, a lot of people liked our game!
I would urge everyone to attend a hackathon, it's a great learning experience where you would definitely build something you can show off. Usually, 24-hour hackathons are on weekends, so you can catch up on your sleep on Sundays! If not for your portfolio, attend one just for fun and the swag.