What is it?
Riot Games, the studio behind the popular online MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Area) title ‘League of Legends’, opened applications for the first time to participate in their on-campus hackathon. From over 2500 applications, 53 were selected to be flown out to their head office in Santa Monica, LA. Needless to say, I was a little bit excited upon seeing this email hit my inbox:
Having organised multiple hackathons in the past, as well as being a serial hackathon attendee, I was thrilled to not only participate but to also get a glimpse into how one of the key game studios that paved my interest into game development approached such an event.
Meeting the Attendees
With less than a month to go, a chatroom was created to give attendees a chance to discuss ideas and get to know each other. This is something we actually did on a smaller scale for our own Hackathon a couple of months earlier, though what I really liked about Riot’s approach was having veteran members of the community actively engaging new members and inviting them to share their ideas on a public spreadsheet as well as writing up a short bio about themselves.
Not only did this act as an icebreaker when attending the event (imagine a lot of “Oh, you’re GopherDude66!”) but instantly immersing them in the community.
Whether it be from the excitement of visiting Riot Games or the fabulously attentive community around the event, the attrition rate was a staggeringly impressive 0.4%, compared to the average rate of 50-60% for most hackathons, this is one of the stand-out aspects of the event that I really need to commend Riot Games / Gene Chorba for.
The Great Journey Beyond
Thankfully my ESTA was still valid from the Microsoft conference I attended last year (that’s $15 saved that I can put towards tacos) meaning all I needed to do was book my coach to London and I was set! Thankfully, Riot was very generous in offering full coverage for flights and accommodation, the within just 20~ hours of setting off I had arrived in LA, was picked up by a private taxi and taken directly to the hotel.
Within seconds of walking into my room and chatting to my roommate, we were already discussing machine learning and virtual reality, I knew I was in the right place.
Shortly after unpacking and exploring the local area with my roommate, those of us that had arrived swarmed the lobby area – you’d have noticed it was a group of programmers a mile off – We made our way to the pier for some much-needed beach pictures, delicious food, and a bad attempt at the mannequin challenge.
NDAs, Secrets and Where Not to Find Them
At 8:30 am the following morning we were whisked away by coach to the fabled Riot Games headquarters. The building itself was immense, the