Unity Hackweek 2020 – in it together, no matter where we are

When most people think of Hackweek, what typically comes to mind are images of wild-eyed developers, huddled up in rooms for days, pouring over hundreds of lines of code and dozens of cups of coffee. We imagine these teams toasting in celebration, being inspired and energized by what they discover and create, bonded in feelings of camaraderie, reveling in the satisfaction that comes from deep focus and unwavering hard work. In a typical year, this is what Hackweek is – an opportunity for Unity employees from every corner of the globe to unite under one sky and one time zone and to hack through the many challenges and opportunities we see facing our company. 

But we know that this year has been anything but typical. 

“With everything going on in the world, it’s important that we keep tradition alive,” said Chief Product Officer, Brett Bibby. “Hackweek has positive energy associated with it, and we want it to provide an opportunity for people to remember and reconnect with the mission of the company, to reconnect with their personal mission and goals, and ultimately, to remember that they are agents for change in the world.”

Honoring the Hackweek tradition was a priority for Unity, so we forged on, committed to making it happen, one way or another. 

Together in spirit and action

Signups went out, and the official call to Hackweek was resolutely announced with only two certainties – it would be virtual, and we would do our best to pull it off. What came following this announcement was a surprise and a true delight. 

Even though there would be no travel, no promise of the long-missed face-time with our colleagues, we saw more participation in Hackweek than ever before. This year, Hackweek had a total of 1,039 participants, 217 active ideas registered on kickoff day, 961 attendees for the global kickoff calls, and 1,489 for the final viewing. In terms of percentage, and when compared to previous years, these numbers were truly impressive. However, what was even more impressive than the participation numbers was how Unity employees carried out Hackweek – how they found different ways to connect and collaborate, how they made it their own, and how they created hundreds of brilliant ideas together. 

Evolution as the collective mantra

One of the most liberating things about Hackweek is the fact that when you sign up, you know you can choose to work on anything you want. Every participant has the freedom to come up with their own project and carry it through as they see fit. Most years, we see a myriad of ultra-creative projects geared toward innovating Unity in different ways. This year the spirit of innovation remained strong, but a quick glance through the idea registry will show you that what was on most people’s minds wasn’t necessarily revolution, but evolution

Many of the projects from Hackweek were motivated by solving practical problems. Bibby noted how “This was a really pragmatic year. It was about evolving our knowledge and skill, improving our understanding of the products that we make, listening to feedback from the community and evolving quality of life features that have a big impact on users.” 

Senior Product Marketing Lead, Thomas Krogh-Jacobsen, whose team worked on a project called Level Up Our Learning Content,

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