A brief guide for training mentors for time-constrained creative events.

Hackathon mentors are experienced individuals invited to volunteer a few hours of time to help hackathon teams (hackers) have meaningful hackathon experiences. At in-person hackathons, they may be hovering around team tables, rotating on a schedule, or placed as a hotdesk where hackers are encouraged to approach with questions. At virtual hackathons, the obscured visibility of help and support may leave the mentors’ role undefined.

Through my 3 years of experience as a participant, mentor, and judge at 17 hackathons and game jams across Southern Ontario, I have noticed that the role of the mentor is often the most convoluted and self-defined. …

Takeaways from a participant perspective.

I started playing last month on my partner’s and beat my first song on hard (’s KDA) after hours of frustration. I then joked it was probably possible to pay off the expensive VR headset strictly through remuneration from remote VR studies at universities. A couple of weeks later, I had participated in 6 VR studies of varying lengths and the headset was ~46% paid off in Amazon giftcards. Through this curious endeavour, I intimately developed an understanding of the remote participant experience where I often found myself as an ad-hoc research assistant.

The main difference between in-lab and remote studies is that the researcher loses control of the physical space, and they can no longer point to buttons of interest, direct the participant by tapping their arm, or personally adjust hardware. Instead, they must rely on the participant to self-direct and the participant inevitably becomes the research assistant, learning vocabulary, calibrating set-up, and managing collected data. The researcher must prepare the participant to fill that role. …


Tina Chan

Writing about Experience Research in Games & Social Issues.

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