Hackathon Five

Life at Nordeus

Do you remember anything from the time when you were 5 years old? I guess you vaguely remember having fun and playing games, right? How about 5 years ago? Can you compare those two? To me, they are not that much different. Obviously, a lot has changed but the pivotal memories revolve around games. Actually, five years ago was when I channeled my passion into profession. Five years ago was when I participated in my first Hackathon.

Growing up with games I took them for granted at first. I’ve never really questioned or cared about what goes behind the scenes because I was just the consumer. Later when I took a more active role in game production I casually slipped into the “how hard can it be” category. It was easy for me to fall into that trap since I was outsourcing art assets for games, thus never really understanding the full scope of a single project. And I was that oblivious until that first Hackathon when I finished a game, from beginning to the end, in one fell swoop. It was just a crash course, but it gave an insight how complex envisioning and realizing a product can be. I had different life plans at that moment, but I remember feeling really impressed with both Nordeus and the idea of having the gaming industry as a potential career path. I was also scared of the same things. I got a wider perspective on the matter and immediately a bigger interest, but I felt overwhelmed and unprepared to take that step. Not many people know, but at that time I was already planning to move, study and work in Austria. Preparation was already under way and I mentally uprooted myself from Serbia, having what I thought was a clear life goal. Coincidentally, or not, I was derailed by the offer to stay and work at Nordeus. I never regretted the decision, quite the opposite in fact, it is probably one of the top five things I did in my life, so far. There were days when I wondered if I deserved that chance in the first place, but over time I understood that Nordeus was not looking for people who can make assets, but rather create games.

First Hackathon turned my life around completely so I have a special relationship with them and easily get emotional with that subject. But when I look back I realize that we have grown together. As Hackathon progressed so has my role within it. It the last five years I was a participant, buddy, organiser, mentor, presenter, host, winner and a loser. I was even a lousy, but funny, bartender at once. Now that I think about it, for some reason I was never asked to be a judge, I wonder why? :) Cool thing is that every role, in its own way, pushed me to an uncomfortable place and then helped me expand my comfort zone. Not just for Hackathons, but as well for day-to-day work, discussions, relationships, etc.

Second thing I was always piggybacking on every Hackathon was the energy around it. From both sides, because you get the chance to work with professionals who are willing to share their experience and others who are eager to showcase their passion. And I have tapped into both of those sources on multiple occasions for various reasons. It is truly a collaborative experience.

Five winters down the road and we’ve come to a crossroads. Five amazing Hackathons have passed, but some changes are imminent. I think that Hackathon spirit should remain the same but its purpose must evolve. Hackathon helped me traverse my career from an inert observer to a professional and I think I’m not the only one. Now let us see how can we repay the favor.

To celebrate what we achieved so far enjoy the Hackathon 2015 video.

Nikola Damjanov

Nikola Damjanov

Game Artist

May 31, 2016