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Andrew Baisden
Andrew Baisden

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Why programmers should play games as a hobby

Playing games is one of the most engrossing and entertaining activities out there and because of its huge social factor you can share your passion with other people too. Other than being a great hobby that you can sometimes find yourself devoting hours too (which may be good or bad depending on the way you look at it). It is also one of the best forms of education and stimulation. When you are doing something that you really enjoy you are more inclined to do it more because of the way it makes you feel. This is the exact same feeling that I like many other developers get from programming which is more apparent on those good days when we are not stuck trying to debug some code for a few hours πŸ˜… .

The similarities between the two are unparalleled and the fact that games are created using programming languages just reinforces that truth. When you are playing games you are usually forced to solve problems which is very similar to when you are programming. You are forced to do a lot of thinking to overcome solutions which is one of the many good traits that a programmer should have. For example if you are playing a first person shooter like Call of Duty Warzone for example. In one situation there could be a sniper on a building somewhere laying down some fire and you are unable to pinpoint where he is. One solution could be to work with your team and go inside of a building to get out of the firing range. There are infinite decisions that you could make in that instance. It is just like when you are building an app you have to think about the technical stack and how you are going to write the code.

Another example can be found if you are playing a real time strategy game like Starcraft II. You need to think where you are going to build your base and what type of troops you are going to train. Because you have no idea what the enemy teams strategy is going to be you need to plan ahead and try to figure out a way to counter whatever strategy they are going to use. Like having a strong defence and building up your army. Or going for a rush attack to weaken their economy so that it takes them longer to gain resources allowing you to build your army faster.

Programming makes you think a lot which is good for memory. It has even been said that diseases that cause mental deterioration such as Dementia and Alzheimer's can potentially be slowed down. So like the term "killing two birds with one stone" if you do programming and have some form of gaming in life then you are putting yourself in a good position. It is not only rewarding but it also makes you a better problem solver and makes you more creative at finding ways to overcome obstacles.

And the best part is that it does not even have to be a hardcore game like those played on consoles and computers. There are plenty of casual and mobile games that can offer the same experiences. From something as simple as Sudoku to a game as complex as a Battle Royale there is something for everyone.

Top comments (12)

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stereoplegic profile image
Mike Bybee

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only dev who isn't a gamer, and one of the few who is a huge sports fan (albeit still in a very geeky way - I'm heartbroken that there's no NFL preseason, because I love seeing which "nobodies" will earn roster spots). Since I'm making it a point to cover things devs shouldn't put up with, this reminds me of something we could all learn from professional athletes:

  1. Bonuses and perks are nice, but the "guaranteed money" should always be your first consideration. Don't let them underpay you by luring you into the "total pay" trap.
  2. Long term is nice, but sometimes it really is a good idea to think like those athletes who take one-year "prove it" deals. When they do, it's said that they "bet on themselves." Always bet on yourself.

There's more I'm not thinking of right now, but thanks for the reminder.

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

I have typically felt the opposite. Most of the devs/IT people I worked with in the past were not much into gaming and many were sports fans. My current dev team does play some of the same games I do. I have met very few people who play games as much as I do, lol. (So for the purposes of the original post, I am quite biased.) Not to say I don't do other things. But my free time has a consistent theme.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Having a fantasy football team technically counts as gaming too in a way :)

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman

I'm inclined to agree. I have taken more to simulation and automation games lately, which seem even more programming-like. (Satisfactory is my current favorite.) These kinds of games require the player to devise a solution to achieve their goal, much like the experience of programming.

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

What games are you playing at the moment? I have Starcraft II and Age of empires 2 definitive edition which are giving me my RTS fix as PS4 lacks any real good RTS games. These games to have aspects of simulation as well building bases, working on your economy. Managing resources and monitoring production and facilities while also building troops. Quite similar to working on an app in a way.

The one major simulation game that comes to mind would be sim city.

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kspeakman profile image
Kasey Speakman • Edited

I'm mainly on computer. My current game is Satisfactory, such an great game. Was pretty into Borderlands 2 before that. The character specs are interesting puzzles, and of course lots of shooting and upgrading. Played Jedi Fallen Order recently, amazing game. Subnautica played last year, also highly recommend. Raft is a great building game, still in early access. I have more fun in those last two games playing in peaceful mode. I've been on-and-off with Warframe -- fun but the grind wears me down eventually. I also play a bit of Civ V now and again for familiarity and some lighter-weight puzzle solving. Cities: Skylines is great for a relaxing time growing a city.

Factorio is hard not to mention in category of simulation/automation games. I've played through it a couple of times. I also played a lot of the Zachtronics games which are thinly veiled (SpaceChem, Opus Magnum) or just straight up (TIS-100, Shenzhen IO) programming games. Human Resource Machine / 7 Billion Humans are also programming games. Although I only find the latter two sets of programming games enjoyable to a point. After a certain point, they have you solve challenging problems but do not give you good enough organization tools. So the solutions end up a giant spaghetti mess that you have to work through by trial and error. Early in my career, believing I had to solve problems this way almost drove me out of the industry. But they are good fun otherwise.

Also congratulations on having a PS4. I looked at getting one recently, and prices on consoles in general (especially Switch) have gone through the roof.

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rayyanq profile image
Rayyan Ahmed Quraishi

I agree, in the sense that I do think one you play video games and that they are helpful. But, I do not think they are helpful in the way mentioned. A lot of us have heard this argument that video games help us in problem solving, and they do to a certain extent. But just not in the way we usually think.

Playing games and watching movies help us in a much deeper way. They make you creative, they give you ideas, they give a good set of analogies to use for problem solving, and allow you to come up with creative solutions.
That is why, I believe, a person who engages in a variety of entertainment ends up being a better problem solver than someone who doesn't.

And games are fun, so why wouldn't you play it? :D

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andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

That's true and good point with the creativity aspect. These mediums have stimulated my mind and given me so many ideas throughout my lifetime. Including designs for apps, websites and even cool projects to work on. It is like a production factory for ideas.

And there are those out there who would say that watching too much of that type of content dulls your mind. While that may be true in some cases depending on what type of content you watch. I find that it makes you into a creative thinker and that type of personality will never get boring.

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Raphael da Silva • Edited

I play games before programming. After learn programming, somethings I try image how the games are programmated and how objects can represent games parts, I wrote article mixing Objects with Splinter Cell game.

Now I playing Metal Gear Solid 5 Phantom Pain on PC. Thank you for the article.

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Petergamer98

Thanks to this, you get to know the market and pay attention to new products. Currently, it is worth paying attention to the Elden Ring game. This is a really interesting game that I highly recommend to almost everyone: royalcdkeys.com/products/elden-rin...

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armoredelephant profile image
Keith Alleman

Good read man.

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louislow profile image
Louis Low

Gaming is one of my drug supplement to my creativity.

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