Are Video Games the Gateway to Programming?

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Want more people to program?

Encourage them to play more video games, at least according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

In an online Q&A, Zuckerberg suggested that a lifetime spent playing video games could prep kids and young adults for careers as programmers. “I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is one of the best things you can do,” he told the audience. “I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn’t played games as a kid.”

A handful of games, most notably Minecraft (above), have a reputation for encouraging kids to not only think analytically, but also modify the gaming environment—the first steps toward actually wrestling with code. But even first-person shooters and action-oriented titles can encourage future developers; if someone’s entranced enough by a particular game, he or she might be tempted to learn what it takes to build one just like it.

“Most of the engineers I know, who are the best engineers, are self-taught,” Zuckerberg added at the Q&A. “It’s not because they took some classes.”

In other words, behind any number of excellent engineers, there probably exist some really decent gamers.

Image Credit: Microsoft

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2 Responses to “Are Video Games the Gateway to Programming?”

May 22, 2015 at 10:00 am, Ron Borta said:

He’s got a point there. After getting hooked on one early video game, I ended up spending the last 40 years writing video games and other software. I know lots of people who have done the same. They became engineers just to create a better version. But, come to think of it, this probably applies to the inspiration that drives many people in many fields.

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May 22, 2015 at 1:29 pm, Rob S said:

There’s some validity to this for many.
As a kid, I played lots of games, which inspired my brother and me to create Dogopoly (dogopoly.com, which inspired a DOS version that I created in 1992 (looking at creating a web version when I have some time). And all of that was inspired by my desire to solve problems; having a mathematical mind helped a lot with programming back in those days, and still helps today. However, even artists with analytical minds can be great with programming UIs.

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