I was inspired to code... by Minecraft! - by Peter Grint
So, this is a bit of a nerdy post, but stick with me...
We’re in a lockdown due to the dreaded ‘rona! For all the parents out there that are sick of their kids screaming at Fortnite, or Call of Duty, or Fifa, but know that you can’t send your kids out to play – there might just be a solution in here for you.
It’s just one of those games that everybody has heard of… Minecraft!
Initially created by Markus “Notch” Persson, from his bedroom, it’s a game that has been the source of entertainment for children and adults alike for over 10 years now.
It took me a while to get into it as a kid, I thought it was too childish, with those blocky graphics and suicidal creepers. Even if you’ve never played the game, I’m sure you will know what a creeper is…
But when I did get into it, I came away with this desire to learn how to write computer code, in some way, shape or form. I didn’t have a solid understanding of what I wanted to learn, or even which language I could learn, but I knew I wanted to learn something.
There are two reasons for this:
Minecraft was initially written in Java. There are now two versions, Java and Bedrock (which is written in C++) – but knowing that a single guy calling himself “Notch”, could build such a successful game using Java was a pretty big green flag for me.
For those who aren't familiar, there is a feature in Minecraft called redstone - you basically use “power signals” and “wiring” to build circuits and machines. Some are complex, some are not, but all have an input, and an output. Kind of like…
Eventually, I decided to learn Objective-C because it was the most relevant to the field I was recruiting in at the time (mostly iOS and Android developers), but my first exposure to programming was through playing Minecraft. And it all started with Logic Gates.
How do I create a circuit that makes this door open in a certain way for a specific amount of time?
How can I create a system that blows up thieves who open this chest to try to steal my loot?
These were the simple things I was trying to achieve, but I became aware of some truly amazing creations, such as this working mobile phone:
- 32 bytes of iCache/dCache - Can be swapped through software
- 8 bytes of constant cache
- I/O ports, addressable 0-7 but extendable with a custom interface
- 8 bytes of registers (including 1 zero register) with pointer support
- ALU performs opcodes: Increment, right shift, addition, subtraction, exclusive OR
- 8 pages of 32 bytes each, total of 256 bytes of attachable storage
Being able to experience this type of logic in a gaming environment was a huge contributing factor to my desire to learn to build something else, something in the real world. I didn’t even know I was learning, I thought I was just playing!
Before I knew it, I found myself researching HTML, and building websites using some of those old school tools like PIczo and even MySpace. Certain lines were stuck in my head, such as "a href" and "img src"
Now, when I open up the console window in Chrome (press F12) I can make sense of what I'm looking at, and know roughly what code does what on the page. Don't get me wrong, there's a LOT that still escapes me, but it's not all gibberish.
My latest project, in fairness, has just fizzled out. I got distracted by other stuff, like getting married and video editing (I’ve got a YouTube channel for that ????). I hope to come back to it someday, but I was able to grasp the basic principles of programming, and here’s a snippet of what I was able to produce.
So, if any of these points apply to your kids (or you, for that matter), maybe you can find some inspiration too:
- Screaming at the TV during a game of Fortnite, Call of Duty or Fifa
- Limited outdoor options due to lockdown
- Want a basic introduction to computer logic
It makes me wonder how other developers and programmers were inspired to create stuff digitally?
What was your inspiration? Let us know on LinkedIn or on Twitter, we'd love to hear from you!
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