While (true) & Gamification
One of the logic puzzles I came upon while studying for Access Code was called The Americans:
Two Americans stand on the steps of the British Museum. One of them is the father of the other one's son. How can this be?
Maybe this is an easy one for you. I had to work it out for a bit, as did my mother. The answer? The Americans are husband and wife. The puzzle takes advantage of people's tendency to conjure up two males when they hear the phrase "Americans."
So, what do you see when someone says User? Gamer? Coder? Or user playing a game that teaches them how to code?
Part of the prework for Access Code was a series of simple games that would teach us coding concepts (e.g., for loops, conditionals). I was excited for the last game in the path, which was the only one that came with a tutorial, was named "Pond," and featured a cute duck icon. I imagined a game that would be as gentle and sweet as the name and icon were, so I was surprised when the tutorial revealed that the little ducks' beaks were actually cannons and the goal was to program your duck to sink other adorable ducks under the sweet blue waters of the pond by hitting them with cute little cannonballs. After the surprise wore off, I found myself bummed and disappointed. Upon completing the tutorial I was reluctant to experiment with the actual game/playground. I didn't want to shoot and sink things.
I know compared to most I'm oversensitive to violence of any kind (a history of trauma will do that to a person). But this discrepancy between my expectations and the reality of the teaching game I engaged in makes me want to remember that it's ok to be myself while I develop coding projects, just as it's ok to have the reaction I did to Pond as a user and gamer.
My projects will likely be gentler than others. A little more girly. A little gay. A little mixed. Hopefully, a little more aware of accessibility. My code can still be rigorous. My views and my work will be worth presenting. I may not be what people think of at first when they think "software developer," but I'm a solvable puzzle. And I can use code to teach something, too. I'll make work that communicates both by what it teaches and how it is designed to do so.
Image by User:Captmondo (Own work (photo)), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4794743