Ask Hackaday: Did Video Games Influence Your Career?

Apex Minecraft hosting recently held a scholarship competition. The person who sent in the best essay would win a $2,000 scholarship.  The winning essay starts, “Five years ago, at age 13, I built an entire computer from scratch. Assembled from basic components: wires, torches, repeaters, pistons, and blocks, it was capable of rendering images to a display, multiplying and dividing numbers, and even calculating square roots.” I  had to read it twice before it clicked that he was talking about a computer built entirely in a fictional universe.

It’s no wonder that he’s now a freshman at college, pursuing a degree in computer engineering. After reading this, I started to reminisce. The first computer I ever had access to was my mother’s laptop. It had an install of QBASIC on it, and I remember using it to make a few text based games. Later on when we got our first family computer I remember spending hours getting no better at video game programming using QBASIC.

It went on and on. I remember doing AI for video games in DarkBasic. I remember doing physics and collisions. Eventually I found my way to html, then php, to make websites about games (which are too terrible to share with you). So when the time came to program robots I was absolutely fearless. It just seemed like such a natural extension of what I already knew that it never occurred to me to be thankful for the time I spent trying to make my own simple little games until much later.

In the end I am still occasionally making little forays into game programming when I want to learn a new language or get back up to speed. It never occurred to me that perhaps this was just the way I’ve always learned a language.

Later on in the winner’s essay he goes on to describe his minecraft community. They taught new players. They taught themselves. They hung out and became friends. The writer gained a sense of self as a user of computers, a teacher of skills, a good member of a community, and a solver of problems. Unlike some of his classmates he won’t go to college and have to learn if he’s good enough. He’ll already know. All it took was a silly block based game.

Did any of you have seemingly frivolous endeavors show up as a foundation for your life and learning far into the future? Tell in the comments below how this ended up shaping your career.

Ask a winner updates day 5: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

The day has passed, the party is gone, and all that’s left is the final interview. The Light Hack Crew gave us a somewhat shorter response then what we were used to, but it turned out to be just as sweet.

Continue reading “Ask a winner updates day 5: Answers”

Winners of the N900 PUSH Showcase tickets.

Like all great things, they must come to an end. As such, at 10am PST, this morning – our N900 Push competition came to a close. We had some really awesome answers, some really round about, and of course the obligatory – really bad ones. For those that are just on the EDGE of your seat waiting for the final concluding answer to stop the arguing and fighting – to settle this whole dispute. The answer, and the winners are…After the break.

Continue reading “Winners of the N900 PUSH Showcase tickets.”

Ask a winner updates day 4: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

Solderin Skaters are really making progress. They’ve gotten their printed circuit boards and mounting equipment all set to go, and the code and algorithms are really shaping up. All that and more updates are seen in their latest video, and blog entry.

Continue reading “Ask a winner updates day 4: Answers”

Ask a winner updates day 3: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

The days are getting closer and closer to the N900 PUSH Showcase, and as such the teams are getting more and more stressed. But the team from Sketch Your World was willing to take time of out of their busy day for our interview. As always, keep up to date on the team at their blog – they’ve started drawing on the Etch a Sketch(tm), and it even (okay, it doesn’t really, but it’s still progress) looks like a circle!

Continue reading “Ask a winner updates day 3: Answers”

Ask a winner updates day 2: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

The Haptic Guide team took a moment of their time for us today. Their N900 hack is a belt that helps point you in the right direction with motors. But after our interview we found out they had much much bigger plans. Remember to check their blog for updates – including new video of their progress (sweet flexible circuit boards guys!) Continue reading “Ask a winner updates day 2: Answers”

Ask a winner updates: Answers

Not too long ago we asked our readers what they would like to hear about from the PUSH N900 winners and their hacks. We got some silly questions, and some serious, we asked both and now the PUSH teams have answered.

Todays team interview is KAPing with the N900. They’re N900 hack is the high flying Kite Aerial Photography. Check out what they have to say after the break. And be sure to keep up on their blog – they’ve released their first test video just a few days ago. Continue reading “Ask a winner updates: Answers”