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.