Maintainer Hackathon

Papers, Please for open source · Jan 2nd, 2019
Format · Some Ideas

In the spirit of learning more about sustaining open source, why not try out a game jam/hackathon?

I was somewhat joking, but I think doing something in the vein of Papers, Please would be a useful homage: playing through the game itself could be an engaging experience in the day to day of a maintainer. Maybe a game could help us all better emphasize with the many volunteers that build the infrastructure of our digital age and new thoughts on what we can do next. My hope is for maintainers to better understand themselves on balancing helping others and themselves, dealing with positive and negative feedback, and humility when met with entitlement.

And I was just realizing that it could be a nice complement to both Hacktoberfest and GitHub Game Off? And if making a game isn't your thing, maybe spend some time making a tool that helps maintainers, a guide on being a maintainer, or writing a story on our experience maintaining a project?


Length: Probably a month?

Many traditional hackathons/game jams are only like 48-72 hours long. But having done a bunch of them myself in college I'm not sure how much I want to promote that kind of event (although it was fun at the time): working through the night and staying up late, doing it through the weekend instead of during work/school, eating unhealthy food, having the pressure of doing something quickly and hacking it together.

I'd feel wrong to promote the issues in maintenance and healthy methods of working by doing the opposite in the event itself! And given that both the ones I mentioned above are for a whole month doing something longer seems better!

As for the date: not sure, maybe in a few months (like May or something) whenever we figure out all the details?

Location: anywhere (it's online)!

This one seems easier, especially if it's not going to be a weekend event (it might be cool to help organize in-person get togethers if anyone wanted, but people can figure that out themselves too). We can setup a chat for people to bounce of ideas and help each other out. I think the meta-game of helping one another in the process of making your own game would be a great side effect.


Looks like lets you start your own game jam so we'll setup a link there and ask everyone to link to their projects on GitHub. If it's not a game, we can setup a GitHub repo to link out to whatever you end up creating!

Judges: by the participants?

I don't think we need any prizes (or I haven't been thinking creatively enough yet), but it might be nice to showcase a few. Although I don't know what to expect with participation.

Theme: open source maintainance.

Tell a story about the life of a maintainer, an overlooked aspect of maintainership, or open source in a new light! Or maybe we should pick a specific theme within the above?

As much as it might be fun for a lot of people to just come together to work on a single game (and maybe that would become its own a lesson on open source and collaboration 😁), seeing everyone create whatever is exciting to them is even better!

Some Ideas

Everyone is welcome to interprete how they see open source maintainance however they'd like, but just to jump start some genres/ideas..

  • A simulation "game": something like Game Dev Story or "Papers, Please" where you actually experience the work.
  • What would a idle/clicker game about open source look like, as the point of those games is that eventually the game plays itself.
  • A RPG, where you learn the different roles of being a maintainer (not just writing code)
  • A board game: could be just a "skin" over an existing game but could get pretty creative with this?
  • Text adventure: I think it would be fun to come up with scenarios, based on personal experience or events that actually happened (now it's also a history lesson).
  • Using Github itself: a more realistic "game" to explain aspects of open source through events.
    • I'm reminded of Github Learning Lab, except intead of learning how to use GitHub itself it would be more about presenting scenarios in open source and how you might deal with them.
  • Meta-game that I suggested: the game itself is a repo of a fake project on GitHub and uses real people to report issues, submit PRs, etc.
  • Tell the story of a specific moment in your open source journey or something that happened in the community (adding a new contributor, making your first release, etc)

What would you want to see?

Either way, sounds like I'd be a fun time.

So.. anyone want to help me organize or set all this stuff in stone (I've never done this before)?