A few years back, a few fine gentlemen were offered sponsored desks at The BizDojo for three months to work on a super cool event concept. Two of them included Shane O’Connell, and Matty Blomfield. The former, coming from a computer science and event background, and the latter, coming from a marketing background, realised that there was an obvious missing piece in the hackathon ecosystem.
Thus was born Hacktivate - the first of its kind. It was essentially groomed to be an eSport for coders. What exactly does this mean though? Well, much like chess is deemed a sport, these two saw the massive growth in coding around the world, and recognised that there’s a better way to give it a competitive angle.
And what competition it brings! The first, as well as many successive iterations, saw several teams enter a venue packed full of all the goodies generally exhibited at a standard Saturday night event; lighting gear, a sound set up, a DJ, a bar, entertainment of various descriptions, bands, and best of all, a full house of spectators and cheering onlookers. The difference here was the focal point of coders waiting to be let loose to dominate their opponents.
It works like this: each team gets briefed on what the challenge is going to be prior to the competition. This allows for some basic planning. The tournament is programming language agnostic, which means that teams could use any programming language in their arsenal and still affect the logic that occurs behind the scenes. The challenges have been well thought out, and built from the ground up. Concepts like “Hungry Hippos” running around the screen chasing apples, and “The Heist” which required the teams to break into a vault, then outrun the police in a street-style chase, all done with code, and all done on the fly. As hippos or bank-robbers of one team make movements and choices, other teams can respond, completely live, in this tense, high speed environment. All is displayed on big screens in a visually aesthetic format (rather than code), with live MC’s and two commentators, in classic sporting style.
You wouldn’t necessarily expect a computer based event like this to pull a crowd, or actually maintain the excitement. But if you’ve had the opportunity to attend one of these, you’d see how interactive the whole experience can be - it’s not just passive viewing. With some thought and creativity, the Hacktivate team manage to gamify the whole night, with various challenges, card games, ice breakers, and so on. The effect is, ultimately, a multifaceted and exciting, action packed evening, that has a broader spectrum of appeal than you’d get from a standard “geeky” event - especially a run-of-the-mill hackathon.
That being said, things have recently changed for the Hacktivate team. After many successes, and even getting commissioned to set one up in Christchurch, they realised that there is serious potential in the brand. They’re now mobilising to open the event to the whole Asia-Pacific region and opening it up to an online audience of both competitors and spectators. This is not without its hurdles of course, as it will require an entirely new format - competitors can’t compete from within a live venue if they’re all over the world. Hundreds are already registering for the online event from New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and more - and the overt marketing machine hasn’t even begun to push the concept to the world.
One thing’s for sure however. So far as research has shown on their end, there’s nothing quite like it on the planet right now, and that makes it very exciting. With coding becoming such a key part of the tech world, and the industry growing, there’s plenty of room for Hacktivate to be a lead player. Now all we need to see is the Hacktivate crew organise a Silicon Valley edition of the event, pitting representatives from various tech companies against each other. It may be a dream, but seeing Zuckerberg vs Musk vs Gates in an all out battle of their greatest attributes would be likened to a clash of modern titans.
The world of code is already cool. What coders do is already incredible. Hacktivate aims to bring the crème de la crème to the top of global rankings so we can celebrate the world’s best.
In the meantime, check out www.hacktivate.com for more information. And if you’re a programmer, now’s your chance to jump on a wave that looks like it’s got plenty of of room to grow. Register now…the October event awaits!