Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

Are Developers Typically Computer Gamers?

Any correlation between computer programmers and computer gamers?  Obviously, there's a correlation between game programmers & gamers - but what about business programmers, scientific programmers or embedded?  Any favorite games?  Any favorite websites?  (And, yes I *know* I can google to find websites, I'm asking for people's favorites to filter out the white noise.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

bob, why are you asking?

Li-fan Chen
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

>> "bob, why are you asking?"

A.  As a group, programmers in the 1980s shared certain similarities.  (i.e. everyone loved science fiction, and everyone's favorite character was Mr. Spock, etc.)  These group characterizes fascinate me - perhaps I should've been a sociologist.

B.  I'm interested in trying computer gaming, and there's too much stuff on the web to know where to begin.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I am an embedded programmer and I started early in the 80ties to program in Basic ( or tried to :)  utility applications.  I learned to program with a book based on computer games programming in Basic. Computers are the most wonderful toy for child ain't it?

My prefered games are wargames, RTS games, and Tactical RPG; in other words variations of the chess game.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Yes, I'm a software developer and I like to play computer games. However, I play a lot less than I used to. I only play Everquest every now and then, and some Playstation RPGs.

Nice sites to my knowledge: ( if you're stuck with a game ) ( Japanese )

There's also other big portals, but their quality is not the best (, )

Best game magazine was Next Generation. Edge and Famitsu ( Japanese ) also a nice mags, and are still published.

Eric V.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I prefer to think of myself as a gamer. Developer is just the thing I do to support my habit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

1. Programming used to be for geeks only, but now it's an accepted way to bootstrap yourself into a better lifestyle and many people are going to college to learn it not becaue they're interested in it, but because they expect to get a high paying job

A correlation could be drawn between this and many other industries. Auto mechanics in the 70's were probably all muscle car enthusiasts, but now that there are so many technical schools that teach this, many more people would probably enter this field than are interested in it as a hobby.

2. Video gaming has become a huge industry. Look how big the Playstation is, how many millions it's sold. Lots of people play video games, so the correlation again may be lost.

The same analogy applies, in the early days of automobiles if you knew how to drive, you probably knew at least a bit of how to repair your car. Now everybody drives.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I am a developer doing embedded systems, scientific programming and related things.

The only game I ever took much interest in is Adventure (text mode, written in FORTRAN) and haven't played that in years.  So I don't think of myself as a gamer.  Except for a few Heinlein and Asimov, I have never read much sci-fi either.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

No games for me. Not even freecell.

The last game I played was Space Quest 2. (and some block-tris 3d tetris game which I really want to find again...)

I gave it up cold turkey. I am much better off WITHOUT games.

Can't speak for others...


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

As a programmer from the 1980s, I can assure you that at least one of them does not like science fiction.  (Not because of anything specific to the subject matter, which is fascinating, it's just that it's almost all so really, really, really stupidly done.)

As a programmer from the 2000s, I can answer your topic question: no.  Few of the good programmers I've known (and database folks too for that matter) play computer games often.  Personally, I've played some, even gotten hooked by all the flashing light and such a few times, but it's such a brainless activity that I've felt ashamed each time I've wasted any amount of time on it.  And please, nobody blather on about games teaching strategy.  They all devolve into mere pattern matching rather quickly.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm a gamer myself, but everywhere I've worked I'm one of a VERY small number (like 1 or 2 out of a few hundred).

Even when I was in a group dedicated to writing games (within a larger, non-gaming company), there were only 4 of us (out of about 30) who enjoyed video-gaming.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Yes, I play lots and lots of games (massively multiplayer games for the last 3-4 years, plus whatever else strikes my fancy).

Many of the people I meet in online games (who are mid-20's or older) are involved with computers in one way or another, although by no means is it everyone (or even most -- but a lot).

Certainly, I know a large number of developers at my company are gamers. Not all, again, but a significant percentage.

A good site for random game-related talk is (plus funny comics!)

Steve C.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

What FT developer has the time to play video games?

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"It's not a waste of time if you enjoyed yourself" - I forget who.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Sure it is, if you look back on your life, see only meager accomplishment.  Entertainment is too widely valued.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

[What FT developer has the time to play video games? ]


No seriously...


Man, that's some funny stuff.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

In all seriousness, I wonder where this culture of accomplishments has come from. I agree that life is much more fulfilling when you're accomplishing things and working towards things.

Ages ago when we were more tribal, accomplishments were small... finding shelter, feeding your family. No need to build skyscrapers.

But now that those simple pleasures have been taken away from us - supermarket shopping is hardly rewarding, we need to fill our time doing something else.

For some it's simply passing time "waiting to die" and for others it's striving to acheive something. The businessmen laugh at the artists, the artists laugh at the businessmen, but all either is tryin to do is give some meaning to their life, which in an existential sense, has no meaning.

I think video games replicate to some extent this feeling of challenge and accomplishment (and I've talked about this here before), and I'd certainly think it was better than most television... At least video games are interactive, and often encourage you to play with your friends.

I saw something on TV at my friend's house about the top 10 video games of all time. When they go to Halo and Final Fantasy, what they stressed was that groups of people get together *because* of their love of gaming. Halo tournaments, and Final Fantasy conventions where people get to dress up and step outside of themselves.

People say technology alienates, but I don't think it alienates people nearly as much as this 9-5 culture and a surburbia that doesn't even have sidewalks - people drive everywhere.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I get too hooked if I play games, so I delete them pronto.

But I do have a copy of Age of Empires, and Sim City.

+ I love Star Trek too (just to show that geeks today love still love sci fi).

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

veal -

[Sure it is, if you look back on your life, see only meager accomplishment.]

This from someone whose major professional accomplishment is to move electrons around a few square inches of iron oxide? Although most of us on this board (myself included) are in the same boat.

Devil's Advocate
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Don't get me started about the modern suburban wasteland.  Ugh. 

The thing that was happening between the 70s and the 90s was that there was a force pushing people towards programming.  If you were good at math but didn't want to be a math teacher, math prof, or researcher, you were pushed towards programming.  If you liked to play with computers, you were drawn towards programming.  If you wanted to make lots of money but didn't want to be a lawyer or doctor, you were drawn towards programming.  And I saw a lot of folks who were becoming developers for the absolute wrong reasons.

The problem is that our viewpoint on what should make us happy has changed.  It is no longer OK to be blue collar.  You can't work at one job for 35 years making a reasonable amount of money and then retire on the company pension.  We all want to retire millionares, early, because we picked the right stock or worked at the right startup.

The problem is, it's no longer a case of either having money or not having money.  Now, some percentage of us has money and the rest of us act like we have money we don't.  Witness credit card debit, second mortgages, home equity loans, etc.  Match that with corporate loyalty no longer being valued, and you start to think that the only reason why this isn't near the exploding point is that women work now, too.

We live in an isolating age.  You don't talk to your neighbor.  There is no Elks club or family resteraunt or local market or public house.  Your family is on the other side of the country.  So we have no real choice but to go out and use computers to replace this.

I had a seriously weird case where I meet somebody and discover that they lived in the same appartment building that I did.

And when we get together, games are like freebase crack compared to the chewing-on-coca leaves that card games and board games were.  You used to meet up for bridge or euchre or poker.  Now it's video games.

Flamebait Sr.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Flamebait Sr. a lot of what you say 'resonates' with what I think about society.

I don't know that things have changed as much as you say. I don't have much to go on here not having been around then, but I would imagine that get rich quick schemes and dreams of an early retirement were prevelant in the middle of this century as well. Just withness The Honeymooners and Ralph Kramden's love of the get rich quick scheme, and I'm sure there are plenty of examples from the previous century as well.

As long as we've had to work for our pay, for as long as there have been haves and have nots, the have nots have wanted to figure out how to get to the other side.

This discussion of TV and video games reminds me of something I heard about music. Before recorded music and radios, music was just as common as it is today. Walking down the street you'd hear somene playing piano, or humming. All we've managed to do with technology is to become passive rather than active participants in music, theater, and now games.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Speaking as an Elks Club member (pending), let me recommend Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Andrew Burton
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"We live in an isolating age.  You don't talk to your neighbor.  There is no Elks club or family resteraunt or local market or public house.  Your family is on the other side of the country.  So we have no real choice but to go out and use computers to replace this."

I dunno about this. You might be experiencing sample bias. Certainly computer programmers don't talk to their neighbors or join the elk's club. However, the marketing guys at my company coach little league soccer. My non-computer-programming sisters are all involved with any number of social groups. Everyone I know who is not a computer programmer seems to have a dizzying number of social activities they do during a week.

Even my 13 year old cousins, who seemingly are addicted to instant messaging, seem to use instant messaging as a sort of asynchronous social group scheduling device. They sit down, chat with the whole volleyball team, figuring out what to wear tomorrow and if they should meet at Jenny's house at 8 to watch american idol because clay is SOOOO cute and whatnot.

Also I believe since the dawn of large cities people have been lamenting the "lack of community."

As someone who grew up in the middle of nowhere in northwestern minnesota, I am glad the internet exists. If it hadn't I would have gone bananas growing up. Yes we had the family diner, which was fine. But the food sucked, and all the hockey players thought i was a freak anyway, so the forced socializatin wasn't a plus, in my book. However, I guess now I feel like I can deal with people I dislike pretty easily.

"It is no longer OK to be blue collar.  You can't work at one job for 35 years making a reasonable amount of money and then retire on the company pension.  We all want to retire millionares, early, because we picked the right stock or worked at the right startup."

Well I think everyone would like to retire a millionaire early. Most people would think it was cooler to be michael jordan or puff daddy, rahter than picking the right stock, though.

As far as blue collar goes, if you are blue collar, it is cooler to be blue collar than it is to be white collar. All my friends from high school are now car modifiers, and they get to have shirtsleeve tattoos, wear tank tops to work, swear at people, and hook up with skanky chicks.  Now if your parents were college professors they might be disappointed if you became a car tuner, but if your dad was a HVAC technician i'm sure he wouldn't have a problem with it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

No, I don't.  I spend a lot of time on the computer, so when i'm not on the computer, I like to recharge.  I play table top games, but no video games. 

I imagine if I was a FT employee and didn't have anything interesting to do, and the boss was ok with it, i'd take up video games.  But as it is, i'm a contractor, and I can only bill for actual "productive" hours. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

No relation here.

Need for Speed and Deus Ex, that's it. Anything that doesn't require ANY thinking.

I rather blast my way through Deus Ex than use stealth.
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

"It is no longer OK to be blue collar."

I think it is Ok to be blue collar.

For one thing, development is now seen as blue collar by executives so if you want to survive you had better start organizing like blue collar does.

Take me for example. I've told my story before but I'll do it again. I used to design microchips and write embedded systems software and do all sorts of things. But the long hours for low pay (when all calculated out) left me exhausted and with no time to live life. So I switched over to being a machinist - a millwright. Now I make more money per hour than I ever did as a developer and live a comfortable life. We have an avocado grove and we make a LOT of money selling avocados and I've even won prize money for the exotic flavors of show chickens I breed. I have time on weekends to go rock climbing and parrticipate in semi-pro wrestling matches. I have a tan. i am back in shape. Life is good.

Blue collar my friends is the way to be. You'll live longer and be happier.

Ed the Millwright
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I gotta get back to work just from reading about all these games :-)

Note - I have been known to like and play games, however I have also been known to play them too much.  That's what I like about have to beat them into submission sometimes, it's like a game!

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Who is Mr Spock by the way? (seriously)

Vlad Gudim
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Mr Spock wrote a popular book about child upbringing that was all the rage about 30 years ago.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Mmm.... Dr. Spock you mean? :-) My mother's favorite when I was between 5 and 8.

Vlad Gudim
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

>A.  As a group, programmers in the 1980s shared certain >similarities.  (i.e. everyone loved science fiction, and >everyone's favorite character was Mr. Spock, etc.) 

This is truly amazing. When will we be able to kill this myth that every programmer is into Star Trek. Most people I have met that say "Oh, and all old school programmers love Star Trek." usually don't know any programmers to begin with.

By the way, Star Trek is pathetic, but I will never be able to change a Trekers mind. However, Alfa Romeo owners claim that their car is the best in the world also. Same thing. Totally emotional arguments :-)

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Patrik claims:

>> "Most people I have met that say, 'Oh, and all old school programmers love Star Trek.' usually don't know any programmers to begin with."

Um, dude, I was there in the eighties (at least I was an CS undergrad - I graduated in 1990) and I spent all-nighters in the computer labs playing computer games.  And I know that 90% of the people there loved Star Trek & the Next Generation.  Not because it was the greatest science fiction ever conceived of by man.  It certainly wasn't.  I don't think we even considered it true sci-fi - most of us were into hard sci-fi in the vein of Greg Bear, etc.  But it had an amazingly optimistic view of the future where logic would wipe away the ridiculous prejudices that exist in our world, and people would be seen solely in the light of their abilities, skills & contributions.

What a dumbass...

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

"And I know that 90% of the people there loved Star Trek & the Next Generation"

That's great. But that doesn't neccesarily mean that the majority of programmers are Star Trek nerds.

I would rather lick hot asphalt than watch Star Trek. Many of the developers that I know feel the same way. Sure, Star Trek is popular among technical types, but the original poster was dead-on by saying that not all programmers are nuts about Star Trek.

Can we deal without stereotypes? Except for the one that says that techies love to argue about anything. :')

Oh..and to be on topic..I'm a huge gamer. Never wanted to be a game developer (on average, they don't get paid jack squat) but I have to have my weekly dose of computer games.

Mark Hoffman
Wednesday, January 21, 2004

No, I cannot stand to even think of using my time to play most games and especially computer games.  I think this has more to do with personality type (INTJ in my case) than occupation.  Any other INTJs looking at this thread?

Joe Nieters
Thursday, January 22, 2004

I enjoy games, but not in excess.  888

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Most techies are no longer Star Trek nerds because they've moved on to Manga40000 or whatever.  After all, why does Fry's have an entire DVD section devoted to Anime?  It's a computer store!  Oh wait, now I get it.  The computer people buy a LOT of anime!

So while the minority always have and always will hate computer games, Star Trek, nerdy old TV shows and nerdy foreign movies, and super-nerdy anime...the majority will continue to wear their TROGDOR! t-shirts in public.  It's the standard for computer people.  Also: specific to computer nerds, there is a greasy sort of look, and (optionally) a sunken chest.  Shawn Fanning (of Napster fame) is my nerd cultural icon and is the human embodiment of these features.  At least, I think so.

I don't know why this is true.  It just is.  Maybe it is, in fact, because most 'computer people' are of a similar personality.  I'm an INTP, bordering on the J/P boundary.

Maybe it's because we visit web sites like Slashdot and USENET where we can communicate and propogate the cultural "geek"[1] norm--for examples, see Slashdot's news stories on the LoTR movies, or Doom3.  But it really doesn't matter why.  It just is.

So don't claim that it's ridiculous to assume computer nerds are also Star Trek nerds.  Throw a dart at Comdex and you might hit a Klingon, or at least someone who is learning the Klingon language.


[1] - I hate the work "geek".  I use the word "nerd" or "dork" instead.  "Geek" almost implies a positive connotation, whereas I believe most "geek" traits are negative.  As Zalinsky said in the movie Tommy Boy: "You've identified the problem.  Step 2 is removal."  So it's more of an issue of removal for me, rather than recognition of "geek" as an acceptable alternate norm.

[2] - Yes, I'm a dork by many counts.  I love computer games (read: addict), I love both sci-fi AND fantasy novels, and I have seen every ST:TNG episode that exists.

[3] - the televised videogame countdown (mentioned much, much earlier) was hosted by a certain Seanbaby.  He has a web site.  It's pretty ... unusual.  If you want to see what SOME of modern youth culture has evolved into, check into his web site.  It's pretty not-work-safe, if not for any specific reason, than for a million things I can't put my finger on: [NOT_WORK_SAFE]

Thursday, January 22, 2004

After re-visiting the Seanbaby page, let me upgrade that to a definite not-work-safe.  For specific reasons.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home