Sourcing through unusual channels…

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Moment of Victory For Three l33t h@x0rs and a Moment of Failure For Three pwned n00bs

 

Here’s a little secret: use of gaming sites for sourcing is on the rise. By ‘gaming sites’ I mean sites where web developers play games only web developers can play. Games that require skill in coding to do. Coding-gaming hybrid sites where programming language skills are put to the test. Welcome to the budding scene of competitive programming.

Twitch is a website traditionally known for streaming video of players from massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft or Minecraft. Or as a place to watch a fish play Nintendo’s Pokemon. However, it has recently become the home of the coding game show DevWars. Through some creative engagement, the site is a valuable resource for sourcing candidates. One clever way to do this is by going to twitch.tv/devwars and watching a game of DevWars.

 

 

DevWars

 

DevWars competitions are exciting hour-long matches where two teams of three face off to see who is the best at building a web program with no prior spec. The outcome of the matches are determined by the democracy of the chat where people (usually other developers) vote on the final products in two separate categories: function and design. Typically there is a clear winner. Experience of the individuals ranges. One time I watched a match where the HTML developer was brand-spanking-new to web programming altogether. He was a Russian man who started out with some basic HTML tags but failed to put enough on the page to allow his CSS partner to do any meaningful design for the proposed puppy image gallery.

Competitors only find out what the spec of the project is within the first 5 seconds a game starts. Then they’re off. 1 hour to build a web application that meets those specs. Talk about a short deadline.

 

“It’s like a rap-battle for developers” – Engineer Ian (HiringSolved)

 

DevWars is a brand new operation. They started broadcasting at the end of last year and the first DevWars episode was December 19th, 2014. Right now, the competition takes volunteers to handle one of the three team positions: HTML, Javascript, or CSS. The HTML person structures the site’s pages, the Javascript person creates the functionality, and the CSS person makes sure it all looks pretty. I don’t know where else can you find a more raw, accurate representation of somebody’s web developing talent.

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I encourage readers to sit and watch a match. They are very exciting and I guarantee you have never seen anything like it. The competitions run every Tuesday and Saturday at 10AM Mountain Standard Time. What ensues is a frenzy of coding. You can interact with the other audience members in the chat by making a username on twitch and even message the winners of the competition. Or the losers, if you liked the work they did. On top of getting some research done: it’s a lot of fun. You discover whether a web developer is worth his salt, while enjoying the dramatic climax of a round of DevWars.

 

Demand for Developers

Front-end developers are in high demand this year, but the supply is low. Broadcast gaming sites like twitch’s DevWars can be utilized to fill positions that are projected to be very difficult to fill. Maybe you have been sourcing developers for a while and have finished scouring github and other professional social media sites already. While it’s still early in the year, perhaps engaging developers from an inventive vantage point is a better idea.

Hiring web developers is going to be extremely competitive this year and gaming sites offer some creative ways to engage with the population effectively. The skills needed for DevWars are highly relevant considering HTML5 is Indeed’s #1 most sought-after skill this year and Javascript is WantedAnalytics’ #5 . With web developers in such high demand, a site where you can watch people test their merits is a godsend. So make a twitch handle and watch a match.

 

Fight Code

While we’re on the subject of web dev games, you should also check out Fight Code. Fight Code is an online arena for Javascript coders to compete for dominance on a two-dimensional robot battlefield. Here you can watch robots face off and see which user can program the most efficient killing machine. The practice puts a user’s problem-solving Javascript skills to the test in the most destructively entertaining way. You can view user profiles on the main site and see the top ranked players if you go to the rankings page. From the player’s profile page you will see a link to their Github or Coderbits account which typically has the person’s email address so you can contact them that way. Or you could program a robot to challenge theirs if you really want their attention in a Sun Tzu Art of War sort of way.

Fight Code is a brilliant and unusual way to discover Javascript developers but it doesn’t offer the real-time coding thrill that twitch’s DevWars offers. For one thing, the DevWars contestants have no idea what they’re  building until the game begins. They are essentially going in blind. One match I saw demanded that the contestants build a Pokemon Pokedex to display the original 150 Pokemon on a website that would automatically cycle through the various creatures complete with their characteristics, stats, and images. Have no idea what a ‘Pokedex’ is? Well you have less than an hour to find out and then build one. This is unlike Fight Code which relies on one premise — destroying robots; and that never changes. Twitch’s DevWars puts web developer adaptability and ingenuity to the test all while the host, Steven Psomas, gives a play-by-play of each person’s coding performance.

 

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Host Steven Psomas and his dog

Keep an Eye on DevWars


When the pool of good coders is small compared to the number of positions in the marketplace demanding them, it helps to get creative with sources. If you get on twitch to check out DevWars on any other day of the week, you will find an instructional show that the host, Steven(or SYNTAG), uses to educate his audience in a wide variety of web dev techniques. The attendance isn’t as high as the Tuesday/Saturday DevWars, but it’s growing and could also be a potential pool of candidates. The channel has grown a lot in it’s short few weeks of existence and it has a lot of potential to set a trend for this kind of entertainment and exercise. DevWars is definitely one to watch.