One day of professional gaming
Friday 14 October 2005 @ 2:37 pm
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IBM This week I’ve spend one full work day gaming. Doesn’t sound special, I mean, there have been times when I was a student I gamed for a full week and even in the days I started working, I spend saterdays and sundays behind my console. So what’s the point. The point is, I did it while at work! And I even did it with permission!

This week I had to teach a group of graduated youngsters, new coworkers , the fundamentals of the Java programming language. But currently every student from a computer sience related university already knows how to write Java. Java has replaced the old days of Pascal and C. Two days I’ve been busy boring them with the nitty gritty details they need to know when trying to pass the Sun certification and I had one day left to get them so bored they would run away and find themselves another employer. That’s the point where the idea of gaming came to mind. Forget the boredom of shift operators, casting floats to integers and around, subclassing innerclasses and more of the stuff that make you wonder why Java is such a great language. Forget the exam, let’s have fun! Let’s play Java!

I remembered IBM once released a java based engine that you could use to let home brewed tanks fight eachother on a small battlefield. In this game you had to program the tank yourself. You could instruct the tank to move forward, backward, fire and so on. All by programming. Once the tank was submitted to the battlefield there was nothing more left than just watch how your algorithms were performing. Great concept for the java classroom! In 2004, IBM released CodeRuler. The same idea but within a different context and, a very important aspect, available as Eclipse plugin! Read all about the game in this article.

I haven’t heard my students the whole day. Some even did not take the time to eat some lunch. Never ever had a class that silent. The only thing you could hear were the clicks of the keyboards and the sights when a bunch of knigts had kicked the enemy out of his castle. During the day I’ve been programming my own code ruler (with the beamer still on so my students could see and learn what I was doing). This way I still could do some teaching by explaining the tricks I found out myself while still enjoying the fun of professional gaming.

At the end of the day, we’ve filled the arena with all code rulers and played some quick games to see if there was a winner. And there was, and it was not me! I have to admit, some of my students have beaten me terrible. To stay within the CodeRuler context and by quoting Quintin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, they really went medieval on my ass! So what did it prove? Well, I’m probably to old for gaming and we have hired some damn good java engineers!

P.S. By the way, here’s a nice interview with the creator of CodeRuler. Not really indepth but just enough information to give a bit of insighs how to construct such a game engine yourself. Maybe one of my students can give it a try?

— By Okke van 't Verlaat   Comments (2)   PermaLink


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