Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Do you play computer games?

Hi Joel and JoS readers,

Do you play computer games? What's the last game you
played? Do your colleagues play games?

What do you think are the differences between software engineers who play games and those who don't?

Personally, I find those who do are often better coders.

If I start a company, I will make it a point to hire engineers who both play games and involved with some open source projects.

rexguo
Monday, August 02, 2004

I did play games - some PC, but mostly console.

I stopped about a year and a half ago when my hands started going numb.  I'd wake up some mornings with my wrist swollen and my forearm muscles in a knot. 

Unfortunately, I think the damage was permanent.  To this day I still get numbness daily and limited use of my right thumb in the morning.

Sometimes I worry that my son and a whole generation of console gamers will develop RSI's early in their lives. With all the carpal tunnel suffering that goes on in this trade, it's probably a better idea to be a programmer who _isn't_ a gamer.

Yet another anon
Monday, August 02, 2004

Are you saying that if you start a game company, or a general software company, that you would prefer gamers?

I don't understand the correlation between playing games and being a good coder.

Aussie Chick
Monday, August 02, 2004

I used to play computer games and many years ago I used to write them too.

I can see that that did make me a good developer, way back then. You had to be really, everything was done in assembler and it took talent to squeeze the last drop of performance out of the system, especially with limited RAM, etc.

I also wrote commercial disassemblers and various other utilities, which were sometimes more fun to work on thatn the games, but the games really paid the bills.

Nemesis
Monday, August 02, 2004

There is (little or) no correlation between playing games and being a good programmer. However, there probably is a good correlation with writing games.

Nemesis
Monday, August 02, 2004

It's like saying playing basket ball is great for your business skills. For some I am sure it makes sense, but for most it's just a correlation that has yet to be backed up by any serious scientific studies.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, August 02, 2004

Developing games is complex but quite a few games studios run on what other areas would call seat-of-the-pants techniques, and the programmers produce hackie spaghetti code.


Monday, August 02, 2004

I tend to play games - not as much as i used to when i was really into online FPS games. I tend to play more single player games now - still mostly FPS but some puzzle games. They are good for releaving a bit of stress and frustrations with work when you get home. Doom 3 is out in a few days and counting down :)

Fothy
Monday, August 02, 2004

"If I start a company, I will make it a point to hire engineers who both play games and involved with some open source projects."

Don't forget to nurture that skill-enhancing quality in your staff - keep some consoles and game-dedicated PCs around, for them to play whenever they feel like it.

Oh, and don't get upset if they're playing when they should be coding (y'know, them loomin' deadlines and all) - just keep in mind that they're not really playing Ultimate PacMania 3D, they're working on their coding skills.

:)

Paulo Caetano
Monday, August 02, 2004

Gaming coders have a kind of problem-solving skills that I simply do not see in non-gaming coders. Obviously it depends on the type of games played too, and to what extent.

I'm afraid this might be one of those things that unless you've experienced it yourself, there's no way for another person to explain/describe it.

It's like explaining the effects of centrifugal force when cycling in a tight circle and how you have to tilt to maintain balance, to a person who doesn't know how to cycle. They may be able to appreciate the theoretical part, but never the real experience.

rexguo
Monday, August 02, 2004

> Gaming coders have a kind of problem-solving skills that I simply do not see in non-gaming coders. Obviously it depends on the type of games played too, and to what extent.

> I'm afraid this might be one of those things that unless you've experienced it yourself, there's no way for another person to explain/describe it.

No, it sounds like ignorance. Which is my whole point about games programming. (I am a games programmer, but I've also worked in many other environments.)


Monday, August 02, 2004

"Gaming coders have a kind of problem-solving skills that I simply do not see in non-gaming coders. Obviously it depends on the type of games played too, and to what extent."

You should broaden your horizons a little bit. The large majority of computer games does nothing to exercise the brain.

You'll probably get better results from people that play chess, do crosswords, etc, than from people who play Half-Life, Football Simulator X-Treem, The Sims, or The Great Fun of Stealin' Cars, Smashin' Windows, and Runnin' Over Anything That Moves.

Paulo Caetano
Monday, August 02, 2004

I Love SimCity.

The problem with games is it changes me form "Smart and Gets things done" to "Smart and Dos'nt get things done". So I never install games on my work computer.

Gary van der Merwe
Monday, August 02, 2004

"It's like saying playing basket ball is great for your business skills."

Playing basketball, or at least having played basketball when younger, likely does improve the skills involved in running a business that focuses on basketball.

T. Norman
Monday, August 02, 2004

I used to play games and loved it but now I hardly have time, between working my day job as a developer and working on my own code in my spare time.

If I have to choose between working on my projects or playing games I choose the work, even though gaming is undeniably great fun. It is however, as previously noted, for the most part a complete waste of time and I therefore can see no way in which it would improve anybody's skills as a developer.

Rather, I find that among the smart people I see in my job, the difference between those who game and those who don't, all else being equal, is that those who don't play games spend more time improving their skills, trying out the latest technology, reading books etc. etc. These things get pushed out of the way easily if you're hooked on gaming.

jz
Monday, August 02, 2004

ZUMA!

Yo
Monday, August 02, 2004

Knights of the Old Republic

Genx'er
Monday, August 02, 2004

>Do you play computer games?
Yes

>What's the last game you played?
Evercrack (aka Everquest). But I also play Civilization 3, Galactic Civilizations, Morrowind and Rail Tycoon.

>Do your colleagues play games?
No.

>What do you think are the differences between software engineers who play games and those who don't?
None that I have seen.

>Personally, I find those who do are often better coders.
If you write games, yes: you can see what works and what doesn't and how you would do X differently. Since my current job is doing web pages that display financial data, the only thing in common is that they both use computers.

Peter
Monday, August 02, 2004


I agree, Game Developers are generally more talented than biz application developers (VB, HTML, Access, SQL coders)

Games contains state of the art algorithms, mostly coded from scratch (well yeah! some people use middleware nowadays)

Have you ever heard of fixes for consoles,
sure you always come across graphic bugs, flickering sprites, badly scripted AI.

Anyways I think think that game developer create better, more robust & more complex code than the average application coder

RasterBlaster
Monday, August 02, 2004

I'm not a PC gamer anymore, really.  I play mostly consoles, now.  Less hassle and much less $$$.

Still, I agree that gamers make better coders.  In general hardcore gamers tend to live on the internet moreso than 9-5 programmers

OK I guess I'll broaden this category to include anybody who goes home after their 9-5 job and writes code for their own use.  THOSE are the best programmers.  I also think that a penchant for gaming doesn't hurt.  Gamers think differently.  They just do.  Apologies to all the non-gaming old farts here, but you know how old farts are.

muppet
Monday, August 02, 2004

"If I start a company, I will make it a point to hire engineers who both play games and involved with some open source projects."

You don't play games? That's an automatic no-hire!
You don't donate your time to open-source projects but merely have been running a successful games company out of your house? That's an automatic no-hire!

Dennis Atkins
Monday, August 02, 2004

Computer games today are far too much work.

You have to learn what the dozen different buttons on the controller do for that particular game.  You need to learn the "tricks" for each level.  You need to learn the nuances of various weapons, or sports plays, or bad guys, etc. etc.

Yes, this marks me as an old man, but I remember games that could addict for hours on end, involving nothing more than a four-way joystick and maybe a "fire" button.  The last great game in this genre, that I'm aware of, was Tetris.

Are there other recent examples of great games that don't require a large investment of time just to get started?

Jim Rankin
Monday, August 02, 2004

Jim Rankin -

Just do what I did.  Buy an old out-of-use arcade cabinet from an arcade owner, gut it, build a PC inside of it (this will require some technical expertise to hook the PC to the Arcade CRT in the cabinet, but in recent years products have emerged which do this for you.  *I* had to solder my own parts :P), and load up MAME and other emulators.

I have nearly 4,000 games on my arcade box at home, including the classics like Pac Man and Galaga.  I even have Atari 2600 games on there.

No, no new games are any good in the way that the classics are.  :)

muppet
Monday, August 02, 2004

Yeah, I do. Right now I'm playing /too much/ City of Heros. I don't play as much as I used to, but the recent games I played were:

- City of Heros (more fun than it deserves to be).
- Prince of Persia (XBox ... so amazing).
- Zuma (very addictive).
- Internet Backgammon (quick way to kill 10 minutes when I need to be /away/ from work for a bit).

I'll probably pick up Doom 3 next week when it's released.

Tim Sullivan
Monday, August 02, 2004

"Just do what I did.  Buy an old out-of-use arcade cabinet from an arcade owner, gut it, build a PC inside of it (this will require some technical expertise to hook the PC to the Arcade CRT in the cabinet, but in recent years products have emerged which do this for you.  *I* had to solder my own parts :P), and load up MAME and other emulators."

Uh, did you miss the part where I complain that computer games are too much work? :)

Jim Rankin
Monday, August 02, 2004

I'd be all over Doom 3 if id hadn't turned Doom into a freaking survival horror genre, which it never was in the first place.  :P

muppet
Monday, August 02, 2004

JR -

hehe, no, but once you get past the work, you get to play all the classics again.  Wonderful stress reliever.

muppet
Monday, August 02, 2004

I've noticed that CS students who play computer games are much lazier than CS students who don't, and by extension, less successful.  This has certainly been true for stages of my college career (the years while playing games, the years without the games).

Oh, and I was a CS junkie, mainly, but played all sorts of other games as well.

I would count computer games as a negative hobby rather than a neutral hobby, but that's just me and my experiences talking.

not convinced
Monday, August 02, 2004

Nobody mentioned Halo?

An xbox + halo cd + xbconnect + high speed internet = lotsa fun

Halo is incredibly deep, imminently replayable, and dangerously addictive.

Though not as addictive as others...

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/EverQuest-Widows/

bubba
Monday, August 02, 2004

Getting pretty tired of Farcry. This beast is endless. And I can say Farcry is making me go away from FPS's.

Sgt Rock
Monday, August 02, 2004

I started playing first person shooters 4 years back. Before that just the odd DOS strategy games. Whenever I think such games are something we computer geeks get lost in pretty easily and it's just an extension of our alter ego--I look at my friends play and they have no interest in computers at all. So YMMV. I think it's just a past time. For some you can take it a little far,  I have been known to waste perfectly good weekends playing civilization, monopoly, counter strike or america's army, but then there's the odd spectator sports nut that will spend most of his free time cheering on a certain sports team and there's nothing wrong with that. I do think if I played less fortune may have a easier time smiling on me.

Li-fan Chen
Monday, August 02, 2004

Hey rexguo, are you that dude who thought he was being real-clever a while back, getting people to guess your top-secret, super-duper hiring method that turned out to be complete BS ?

Nemesis
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Fun games which are guaranteed to not last more than 15 minutes:

Strange Adventures in Infinite Space
http://www.digital-eel.com

Warning Forever
http://www18.big.or.jp/~hikoza/Prod/

And there are always those old ones you could run on DOSBox or newer remakes of them...

.
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Nemesis, I don't know what on earth you're talking about. I'm not a HR manager. I'm not even a manager. I'm just a dude who likes to play computer games and who happens to code alot. So take your nemesistic shit elsewhere...

rexguo
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Hey rexguo, no offense dude. I just thought some of the ideas you had were similar to a poster from a while back. Sorry if I offended you with that idea.

Nemesis
Tuesday, August 03, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home