Anti-hackathon off and running

We had our kick-off meeting today and it went great. Of the 10 people who expressed an interest, 7 showed up, either virtually or in person. We had minor Google hangout issues with people needing to install a plug in and sound/ picture sporadic for some people, but we made it work.

Our team consists of :

  • one person from London, England,
  • one person from London, Ontario (now living in Ontario, CA),
  • one person from Alberta, Canada (originally from California),
  • three from Santa Monica, and
  • one person St. Louis, Mo, also recently relocated to Ontario, CA

We had 3 women and 4 men, which is a much higher ratio of female to male than typical for a hackathon.

We set a date to start – June 9th – and we’ll be working on our project until June 14th, as many hours a day as we can each spare.

Our project is going to be a Choose Your Own Adventure type game with super heroes, combined with math. The mathematics level is going to be sixth-grade, with problems from the measurement and data, statistics and algebra areas of the Common Core.

bear killed youWe decided since this was a learning project for all of us, and we all have real jobs, to just go with what seemed the most fun.

We have some artwork we couldn’t use in existing games. For example, this has claw marks on it and blood, which I’m pretty sure the average elementary school, even middle school, would veto. We even have a fight scene we had to delete. These scenes will probably make it into the anti-hackathon project.

Our working title is Math Saves the World, though I’m sure that will change.

The game will start with an intro and then they choose the character they want to be. To go on to the next step, to read their character’s back story, they need to solve a math problem.

After that, there is another math problem and then a choice, say, go to the woods or toward the lake. After each choice and new scene / text in the story, there is another math problem.

We are going to try to make the math relevant to the story, e.g., there are spaceships attacking the earth.  The chart on your screen shows their movement towards your position. How long  do you have to prepare your defenses before they arrive?

I think one of the stories might have to do with alien invasion.

We decided not to limit ourselves to a Native American theme, but I did want ONE of the options to be a Native American super hero. I called our lead cultural consultant and he thought it was a good idea, too. He is going to talk to other cultural experts in the Native American community and get their ideas on what powers they think a Native American super hero should have, where he or she would have gotten those powers, what sorts of heroic exploits should they have.

We are getting set up on github, basecamp and Google apps this week so we can work remotely. Even though 5 of us live in California, two of those people live over an hour away from Santa Monica.

It was interesting to see what people were interested in doing.

Dennis, who mostly does 3-D game programming here volunteered to do all of the back-end recording game state in the server, keeping scores so we can post  individual high scorers, groups. We decided to make playing competitively an option Рas in, you could play as part of a group, opt to have your score posted Рor not.

Jessica, who does social media and project management here volunteered to work on game design and math problems, although she also agreed to be our Mistress of All Things Base Camp (that’s going on her business cards).

Ryan, whose day job is making websites, also volunteered for game design.

Linas, who is still in college, wants to code.

I opted in for coding and math problems, so, basically, the more fun parts of my usual job.

Erin and Sam, I think, are up for a little bit of everything.

I am excited. I was, at one point, bouncing in my seat. Of course, I was excited by  the prospect of doing problems on statistics, measurement and data instead of just fractions, but the point is, I was excited. And happy.

Dennis, usually invisibleIt was our first day in our new offices at the Water Garden. Even Dennis, who is rarely seen in public, came out of his programming man cave to attend and was pleased that he did.

Stay tuned on June 9th when I will be tracking our progress here.





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