Badge Stacking Fever in FutureStack14’s Scavenger Hunt

FutureStack14 was a success. With more than a thousand attendees, a Hallway Track packed with attendee-led talks, and inspiring keynotes from the likes of GoPro and Docker, our second user conference exceeded our expectations.

But even though the event was more useful and informative than ever, we still wanted to preserve an element of fun and keep people engaged with the venue, our sponsor and product booths, and (of course) each other. Enter the FutureStack14 Scavenger hunt, powered by our awesome, Wi-Fi-enabled conference badges. The badges let you collect points by touching, or “stacking,” them against other badges and scavenger hunt items:

The Grand Prize this year was a full ride to a conference anywhere in the world. That’s right, we’re sending the lucky attendee with the most overall points to a conference of their choosing, with ticket, airfare, and accommodations included. Crazy, we know. But we love our FutureStack community and look for ways to make sure our attendees find opportunities to learn and grow.

Happy stacking

On to the nuts and bolts. To keep things interesting for all flavors of FutureStackers, we put together a point system that rewarded attendees for everything from stacking another attendee or speaker to tweeting with the #FS14 hashtag. That leveraged our Wi-Fi capabilities, badge-to-badge tagging, the FutureStack14 mobile app, and a special Twitter bot we created for the occasion.

scavenger hunt 1

On top of that, we coded near-field communication (NFC) tags and attached them to a variety of items scattered around the venue. Some were hidden in plastic Easter eggs, while “smarter” ones doubled as contact information collectors for non-profit programs and FS14 Sponsor contests.

The roamin’ robot

The final and most adorable incarnation of a scavenger hunt item was a stuffed robot. This smartly dressed ‘bot was carried around by Eric Betts, an engineer on our New Relic Mobile team. An avid OK Go fan, the robot even made it all the way to the Warfield for our kickoff party.

A different kind of Easter egg

To add yet another treat for people really playing around with the badge, we snuck in a surprise behind the “Help” menu. A well-placed tap or two unveiled your very own Badge Cat, inspired by our favorite Internet-famous felines. Sound awesome? It was.

The stacks are in

Cool idea, you think, but how many people actually participated? A total of 1,084 attendees got their badges up and running and went on to make 4,426 stacks at the conference. (Our friendly robot alone got stacked 62 times.)

To give you a visual sense of the action, here’s a heat map of every single stack that happened over both days in the Festival (top) and Herbst (bottom) Pavilions at the Fort Mason Center:

scavenger hunt 2

So what was the end result? With help from a behind-the-scenes leaderboard, we identified our chief stacker just before the closing keynote on Day 2. The grand prize went to Henryk Sarat, senior software engineer and team lead at BlueBox Security, who racked up a total of 902 points. We checked in with him last week, and he’s hoping to attend a Black Hat conference in 2015, especially if it’s in Asia again. Our runner up was Ben White, tech lead at Australia-based blog Mamamia, who nabbed a GoPro HERO4 for his efforts.

More badge goodness

Luckily for everyone still hanging on to their badges, the fun doesn’t have to end here. The badges just so happen to be hackable, and we’ve released the firmware repository so you can repurpose it for your own projects, whether it’s another NFC-based game or tracking personal health metrics. The possibilities are endless!

Thea is New Relic's Online Community and Developer Relations Manager View posts by .

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