Geeks Accomplish More with Human Interaction: What the Tech Industry Can Learn from Gaming
It’s no secret that side projects give us an edge as coders, but sometimes staring at a screen alone debugging for hours on end is the last thing we want to do after a job of just that. In my experiences with mentorship, homework help, and interview practice meetups, hackathons and entrepreneurial innovation sessions, I’ve noticed a common pattern of pushing ourselves to fill a short amount of time with as much productivity as possible, a tactic that can feel necessary to keep up with the fast pace of tech but isn’t sustainable for the long hours many of us dedicate to our craft at and outside work. Most coders associate our craft with adrenaline, not relaxation. Unlike other independent professionals who watch their art come together at a steady, predictable pace, we encounter error, error, ERRORRRRRRRRRRR, and *boom* sense of accomplishment.
For inspiration in making intense endeavors more fun than frustrating, we can look to the equally geeky yet much more universally addicting activity of gaming. Like coding, gaming is a nuanced realm with different strategies for different genres, but the journey of getting good is much less lonely than with coding. Market pressure creates immersive gaming user experiences. As much tech media attention as graphics and hardware advances garner, I’d argue that the exponential growth of the gaming industry is due to advances in gaming culture more than GPU’s. Gaming is now a way to make friends from around the world from the comfort of home. The success of social gaming demonstrates how meeting human needs can keep people hooked more than distracting from them.
In theory, gaming is more of a performance than coding. One wrong move can cost a life. Yet, though coding errors don’t cost us any kind of measurable points, limited facetime with our peers can make us dread erring in their presence, relegating meetups to show and tell and the actual act of coding to isolation. We share flawless mockups when our names are attached and reserve our struggles for the anonymity of Stack Overflow. This perfectionism sparks a vicious cycle that intimidates many from sharing their work and even more so, their woes, so we debug in silence and get easily distracted when we get sick of doing one thing for too long.
As we discuss mechanisms to optimize our lives for coding like mindfulness and exercise, we often forget life’s original coping mechanism: each other. Our collective willpower can motivate, relax, reassure, and distract when necessary, and most importantly, empower us to succeed in the world’s fastest growing field without living a life of isolation. Tech is building our future and it needs to be built with perspectives from all kinds of people, including those who don’t want a future that feels a lot like lockdown.
Keep the Conversation Going: Where can you find upskilling buddies?