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ICTSA’s Game of Codes 2017

by Nicky Buttigieg
28th February 2017

This year’s edition of Game of Codes, the University of Malta’s ICT Students Association (ICTSA) annual programming competition, was held between the 17th and the 19th of February.

Participants were given 48 hours to collaborate and attempt to solve a real-world problem.

This event brings together students from different courses as well as industry teams and a group of University lecturers. Dr Christian Colombo, Dr Jean-Paul Ebejer, Prof. Gordon J. Pace and Dr Chris Porter teamed up to design this year’s Game of Codes problem. Briefly, participants were required to come up with a solution to minimise driving time from an origin city to a destination city. The problem was compounded by the addition of coffee breaks throughout the trip, which resulted in a change in traffic conditions when the drive proceeded - a factor the participants also had to account for.

The event was held at Microsoft Innovation Centre offices at Skyparks Business Centre. It kicked off at 8pm. Teams then began focusing on conceptualising a suitable approach to the problem statement. One could observe each team writing down key points and algorithms on the floor-to-ceiling glass walls since it is easier to visualise rather than from an A4 paper (and looks undeniably geekier).

The environment presented to the participants during such events intentionally provides an insufficient amount of time to fix all the bugs in their code or create the optimal solution. Therefore, it is intriguing to observe the diverse approaches to the problem. The Microsoft Innovation Centre is full of focused minds. However, if one happens to wander around at night, participants are most likely to be found playing video games to let off some Steam (pun intended).

Besides challenging an individual's ability to work against the clock coupled with strict deadlines, Game of Codes tests a team’s capabilities of efficiently brainstorming and division of labour. As for industry teams, it is an opportunity to work with colleagues with whom there might not have been previous opportunity to collaborate. This improves overall communication and skills within the workplace.
On a personal note, this was my second edition of Game of Codes, and the first thing I noticed during the competition was my improved ability to work under pressure within a team. Those
interested in programming and problem solving should make it a point to form a team and take part in such events. Similar hackathons are being held by hundreds of companies worldwide in order to promote creativity and original ideas, as well as enhancing a company’s reputation. Such events are also implemented as a recruitment method.
The solutions submitted by each team are assessed by a panel of expert judges from the Faculty of ICT at the University of Malta. Subsequently, an award ceremony will be held on the 12th of March. Meanwhile, I am sure all the teams are hoping they will be the ones to win the cash prize and trophies!

Level -1, Block B, Room 10b,
Faculty of ICT, University of Malta,
L-Imsida MSD2080


Phone: +356 2340 3597