At Unity, we’re out to democratize development by enabling success for creators. As Global R&D HR Director, I’m focused on nurturing our talented people to help attain that goal, and Hackweek’s a big part of that. This year’s event is our biggest ever and will include exciting new initiatives like Women in Gaming, onsite childcare, and many special guests to inspire us.
Every explorer needs a frontier
There aren’t many companies that put more resources into their hack weeks than Unity, and as our company grows, so do our efforts. Our Hackweek has expanded year after year, from around 75 people in 2013 to 550 people this year, all of whom will be completely focused on solving many interesting and tough problems together. Past Hackweeks have produced features like Unity Cloud and Collaborate, IL2CPP, and the Progressive Lightmapper.
Since true innovation is fueled best by exploration, taking risks, and going beyond normal limits to attain the extraordinary, Hackweek offers employees space to experiment. With their minds freed from the usual deadlines, meetings and other day-to-day tasks, they have room to think about things in new ways.
Getting in the zone
One thing that’s always impressed me about our Hackweek is the palpable excitement in the air. It’s like you’re on another planet, where time doesn’t exist and everyone in the room is there to solve hard problems and nothing else. It’s the sort of intense collaboration that’s difficult to do in a normal work environment.
With everyone pulling in the same direction, as I’m sure you can imagine, there’s a lot of intensity in the room. Last year, for example, when I was walking with some colleagues through the communal space long after “normal work hours,” there were 50-60 people still coding away in deep concentration. As we crossed the threshold into what we call the “battle room,” we stopped talking out of respect for the commitment and magic we were witnessing. I often hear participants remark on how transformative Hackweek is, with everyone devoting almost all their intellect, experience and energies to reach important, common goals.
A special space to learn
If you’ve been to other large industry events such as Unite Europe or GDC, you may be familiar with the Women in Gaming initiative. For the first time, we are also bringing this to Hackweek and we have planned a series of talks that will provide participants an opportunity to gain insight into cutting-edge Unity development and improve their technical skills. We also hope they will use this event as a great place to network and connect with people they otherwise wouldn’t have met.
A shot of vitamins after dinner
We’re expecting around 50 guest participants from partners like Google Cloud, Nordeus and Zynga, and community leaders like Unity indie enthusiast and influencer, Lotte May (Lotte Makes Stuff). They’ll be full contributors to Hackweek, free to join teams, create projects, attend talks and present their own work. While the talks are optional, I anticipate that they’ll be popular – like a shot of vitamins after lunch or dinner for anyone who would like to shift gears briefly from the intensity of problem-solving or just get inspired by a new subject.
There will be over a dozen sessions covering topics like leadership, machine learning, augmented reality (AR), the latest Unity features, the new extension for mixed-reality (MR) tooling, the future of C#, hacking a sample game and more.
Small details make the big picture
Because Hackweek is so important to us, we want to ensure all employees and partners are able to participate, even if they have young children. That’s why this year we’ve hired daycare professionals to look after the little ones while their parents hack away. Parenthood is a natural part of life and shouldn’t prevent anyone from participating in the five-day event. At Unity, we strongly believe that a well-balanced personal life and a successful career go hand in hand.
To some, onsite childcare may seem like a small thing, but I think it’s actually a big deal. It’s one of those organic, people-focused initiatives that make me proud to work for Unity. As a large global company that touches millions of developers and the game industry at large, we’re aware of the responsibility that brings, and we always strive to do the best for our employees and those who use our technology.
Finally, while we believe employees at Unity should own problems that are worth solving – problems that are often not written down on a roadmap – we also know that without truly inspired, engaged employees, our intellectual property (IP) means nothing in the long term. That’s why the new format of this year’s Hackweek is especially exciting for me – it emphasizes, on a very human level, what our values are and how we’re always striving to be better at what we do individually and as a company.
If you would like to know more about working at Unity and to see open positions, have a look at our Careers page.