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Do You Even Dev?

A viral recruitment campaign in the form of a mysterious game that tests developers’ coding abilities over four different skill levels.

A Nona Creative 8-bit Recruitment Game for Developers

A viral recruitment campaign in the form of a mysterious game that tests developers’ coding abilities over four different skill levels.


A shortlist of highly-skilled, pre-screened developers from around the world.

33000+ Devs, 2100 Cities, 111 Countries, 6 Continents

And it’s still running…


Our client — a SA-based e-commerce service provider that specialises in online gaming trusted us to create a world-first recruitment campaign that scouted a team of top developers from a global pool of talent.


Be creative; keep our corporate URL anonymous; make sure each candidate is an ideal fit for the high-pressure culture of the company, and don’t blow the budget.


Two mysterious, unbranded billboards with a piece of simple code were erected in the centre of Cape Town.

To the average passer-by, the ad looked like a muddled arrangement of random phrases and letters. To the code-fluent developer, it was an enticing invitation to play.

‘Do You Even Dev?’ — designed using 8-bit pixel elements characteristic of the ’80s and 90’s video games, was cleverly crafted to lure potential candidates into completing four progressive levels of increasingly difficult coding challenges — with the ability to try again, and again…

A couple of curve-balls we introduced, such as ambiguous instructions and deliberately obscure challenges kept things interesting and allowed us to test tenacity and perseverance, as well as technical competence.

Phase 1

Within two weeks of the billboard being flighted, almost a 1000 users had engaged on DYED.

Phase 2

Word started to spread, pictures of the billboards began circulating on social media. Strings dedicated to the site were created on Reddit and 9gag.

Over 33000 users engaged on DYED — 721 submitted their details.

We are currently undergoing interviews.

And it’s still running…

Of those who submitted details

Emails from developers across the world came streaming in thanking us for the challenge

Rewarding the user


We felt that playing off of nostalgia would be a good way of ensuring a high conversion rate and our 8bit style UI and custom soundtracks would appeal to our target market. We also knew there was a lot more that was needed when it came to the UX, and we knew we had to create an excellent experience in order to entice developers to get in touch with us. It had to be unique, it had to be good, and, most importantly, it had to connect with the target audience in an honest way. It is currently a developer’s market; developers are constantly being harassed by recruiters — sometimes on a daily basis, and we knew we had to do something fresh in order to open a dialog with them.

We knew that if we wanted traction in the developer community we needed to create an exclusive challenging experience, rewarding the user every step of the way. From the word go we opted not to advertise the URL at all — only the initial JavaScript challenge was placed on billboards. We did this in order to speak directly to developers without being pushy or in-your-face about it. Word-of-mouth was the aim here, and it exceeded all of our expectations.

Below are a few more examples of developer-centric elements we included:

More than face value

Level 1 clue


For your next step, you need to inspect this simple request that will get you ahead and like 64chips in some sort of biscuit there’s always a clue();

if you know where to look

At this stage to the not so dev savvy the site would appear broken. To the seasoned developer, this is a clue to inspect the code and look in the cookies for more information.


“Kodenami” is a play on the konami cheat code that appears in many Konami games in the ’80s and ’90s. The code rewarded players with bonuses that differed between games. In DYED it gives the player access to a hidden custom space invaders game.

Player Stats

Users can send an email to their custom generated user name at any time to return a stats report of their progress formatted as a block of code in the same style as the billboard.

Some of the technologies we used

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