Hackathons are a great way to spark innovation and creativity, particularly for engineering, product, and design teams. These events also bring people together, encouraging collaboration with colleagues they may not interact with on a daily basis.
Gather is the perfect platform for virtual hackathons because it's super easy to gather the whole team in one place and then break off into smaller groups. Just like an in-person event, you can freely walk around, check out what other groups are working on, and naturally strike up conversations. It also provides a fun and exciting space for brainstorming and celebrating all the amazing projects that come out of your hack day!
This guide will help you with the logistics of hosting a team event in Gather and provide ideas for how to use the space during your hackathon.
- A space on Gather. We recommend using a Remote Office when getting started.
- If more than 10 people are participating in the hackathon, you'll need to purchase a subscription or reservation. Click here to read our Pricing Overview.
- The space design recommendations in this guide will require Build Tool or Mapmaker access. Review our User Roles and Permissions to make sure you have the access you need.
- Create your hackathon space. We recommend a Remote Work Office. (It can either be the same as your day-to-day office on Gather or a new space created just for your hackathon.)
- If you'll have more than 10 participants, purchase a subscription or reservation.
- Customize the space (if needed) to maximize collaboration and productivity. Jump to this section for ideas.
- If you're creating a new space, invite your teammates when it's time to gather.
- Start hacking! Enjoy the freedom of moving around, walking in and out of conversations, and collaborating with your coworkers.
Using & Customizing the Space
Depending on how exactly you run your hack day event, some of these suggestions may or may not apply. The goal of this guide is to give you ideas of how to use the space that you can tailor for your specific team.
- Kicking Off the Event
- Brainstorming Project Ideas & Voting
- Working and Collaborating
- Celebrating with Demos and Awards
Kicking Off the Event
Start your hackathon with everyone together in the space. A large conference room or All Hands room usually work well as the place to kick off the event. Just make sure it's either:
- One large Private Area so everyone can connect to each other while in that area
- Somewhere with a Spotlight Tile so the speaker can address everyone at once
If it's your first time as a group in Gather, take a few minutes to explain how things work.
- Demonstrate how you can talk to people by walking up to them
- Explain basic interactions like moving, reacting with emotes, and interacting with objects ('x')
- Explain fun interactions like dancing ('z') and throwing confetti ('f')
For more resources for introducing your team to Gather, click here.
Brainstorming Project Ideas & Voting
Some teams prefer to brainstorm and plan out their projects before the hackathon actually begins, while others prefer group ideation and voting to be the first event.
If you're brainstorming once you're all together in your virtual space, you can do that in two ways:
- Collaborate on a Whiteboard object together. (Best for small teams where everyone can feasibly walk up to the object and interact with it.)
- Brainstorm in a different app. You can share the link to everyone in Gather chat or by embedding it in an object.
Once the ideas are in, it's time to vote on final projects and designate teams.
One creative way to do this in Gather is to add text labels for different projects throughout the space. To vote for a project or sign up to work on it, have people move their avatars to that spot in the room.
It's a fun way to "get people moving" -- they can talk to each other as they walk around the space, briefly brainstorm ideas before actually choosing them, and you get to watch in real-time as people cast their vote.
Working and Collaborating
Once you know your hackathon projects and teams, it's time to start working. Have each group break away to their own spot in the virtual office.
Pro-tip: Once everyone has chosen their spot, add a text label describing their project or team name. This will help everyone know "who's who" during the event so you can easily walk around and talk to other groups.
Working in Gather is similar to working in a physical office: You can collaborate together in a meeting room, come and go from conversations, or sit at your desk for some focus time.
Here are some productivity tips that are useful during hack day events:
- Share multiple screens at the same time. This makes it easy to jump back and forth between mockups, prototypes, and code from different people.
- Embed scope docs into objects in your meeting room. Everyone will be able to access the doc without having to dig through messages.
- Take a break and talk to other teams. Walk around the space and see how the other groups are doing. These casual come-and-go conversations become easy and natural in a virtual space.
- Working on a super secret hackathon project? Lock the private area you're working in. This will prevent other people in the space from walking in without permission. Great for keeping projects secret until they're ready to reveal!
Celebrating with Demos and Awards
No hack day is complete without showing off what each team accomplished. Gather everyone back together in the same spot that you kicked off the event.
One by one, have each team (or a spokesperson from each team), demonstrate what they built.
- If you're in a large private area where everyone is connected, each speaker can start talking when it's their turn.
- If you're in an open area, use the Spotlight feature to allow each speaker to address the whole room one by one.
And before demos or awards begin, make sure everyone knows the fun ways they can react in Gather (these help set the celebratory mood!):
- Press 'z' to dance
- Press 'f' to throw confetti
- Use the emote bar to react with emojis
- Use chat to send messages to each other
Pro-tip: If you have Applause enabled and enough people react in the same way at the same time, you'll hear and see a surprise! :)
- If you haven't created your hackathon space yet, click here to get started.
- If you need to review our plans, view pricing here.
- If you're ready to invite your team, review onboarding resources here.
- Get Inspired! Read this Customer Spotlight about a remote team who designed their first custom Gather space during a hackathon (and have updated it every hackathon since)!