Our biggest motivator was our own struggles to use our time effectively in lockdown. We wanted a tool that helped keep users accountable and turned the process of learning a skill into a game. Inspiration for the idea of gamifying our skill-learning process for motivation came from the app Habitica, where users level up a character as they build and maintain good habits. The idea of exchanging skills was inspired by the language exchange app HelloTalk, where users interact with people who want to learn their language, and are fluent in the language they want to learn.

What it does

We pair users together who have expertise in each other's chosen skill area, and together they provide each other helpful advice on how to overcome challenges and what to do next, and keep each other accountable. When first paired up, the users receive a shared pet which they can buy accessories for as they level up if you both stick to the goals they assign to each other. Our app encourages users to stay motivated and progress through their chosen skill by introducing accountability and fun into building meaningful habits. After all - who doesn't love pets?

How we built it

We coded our application using React and a Material UI framework, while the art was drawn by a member of the team. We have 3 main pages: the signin/signup page; the dashboard where users can see their overall progress; and the playground where users can play with their pet chat with their partner and set goals for each other.

Challenges we ran into

The hardest part was figuring out the specific details of our concept. How could we match up goal setting with gaining experience points for the virtual pet? How could we encourage users to actually stay and stick with their goals? Our group also struggled with creating the playground, as we did not have experience with making games.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

We created a cool-looking prototype of the playground: we could simulate a dog's movement in the playground by switching between a gif of a dog walking and a dog standing still and animating the gif; we created a rudimentary goal setting system, which gives the users cash to buy things in a store and level up their pet.

What we learned

As most of us are new to hackathons, we learned the importance of making compromises on our desirable and impressive ideas on the fly. We also learned the importance of making sure that our code style was consistent and followed a set folder structure especially under time pressure — switching between different team members’ code often meant learning a new code style, which slowed down our progress. On a positive note, we learned just what a team can do in 39 hours when the team has passion, enthusiasm and camaraderie.

What's next for Skillpetica

Overall, we want to flesh out the user interface more, bringing in further market research to inform our decisions. For example, we want to create a more elaborate interface for users to select the skills they have and the skills they want to learn. For the playground, we want to introduce more features for the pet playground like accessories, clothing and room decor. Additionally, for more realistic interactions with the pets, we plan to add AI features to the pets. We will also create a walkthrough on the website guiding the user through the app.

On the technical side, we want to introduce a backend database to allow users to properly signup and have their pet information saved.

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