Hackernoon logoCOVID Happened And I Decided to Stop Gaming And Start Coding by@mitchell-harp

COVID Happened And I Decided to Stop Gaming And Start Coding

Mitchell Harp Hacker Noon profile picture

@mitchell-harpMitchell Harp

I'm just a dude, man.

It's no secret that today, during a global pandemic unlike anything in well over a hundred years, many people are stuck at home and unable to work by no choice of their own. This massive inconvenience of feeling trapped and bored out of our minds for months within our own dwellings is leaving a lot of us with fluxes of emotions like restlessness, hopelessness, depression, and many other not-so-good things. 😷 On a positive note though, this is a great time to adopt some new mental flexibility skills.

It's been a rough time for everyone, and many people are alone at home suffering mentally, some without a job to go back to, or in some cases whole families do not have the safety net of knowing when or even if more government assistance is on the way to help feed them and prevent themselves from being evicted from their homes. All the while antiquated computer systems implemented by Unemployment Insurance Agencies of the states are failing to keep up with the millions of claims thrown at them and people are becoming more restless by the day as the backlog grows and the bills keep piling up.

Not to jump the gun but that right there /\/\/\ is proof for the case that technology demands are evolving faster than some industries (in this case state governments) can keep up with, and this is an area demand that will be ever-increasing as automation intensifies with the current industrial revolution taking place. People's need for services will not go away, but it's too late to deny blue collar jobs will eventually start becoming displaced faster than retraining or retooling allows replenishment of new positions. Coding seems like a sure bet job-security wise to counter that disadvantageous position for humans.

If you chose the path of the code and it's not yet clear if you should learn web, software, machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, data analysis, or video game development, just remember that doesn't matter too much at the start. The important thing is determining to start and to keep remembering on the daily the ways it can help shape your future positively! Don't be overwhelmed before you start either! It's okay to take in a little at a time, just make sure to try your best to practice/study everyday to keep that brain muscle memory active. Brain stonks!

So let me seamlessly shift here because I'd like to try to explain why this time can and should be used by anyone whose considered adopting a new highly employable skill or just had the interest to start to learn code, to absolutely GO FOR IT RIGHT NOW! Tech is truly the new electricity, in that it is everywhere around us, forever ingrained and changing the game! What's super cool too is that code is at the base of every part of every piece of digital tech. Every electronic or network is running on some kind of programming / code!

There is no better time to learn something useful then when you are stuck at home bored or just wasting time on Netflix, depressive news cycles, or video games anyways, right? Riiiiiiight? πŸ˜‰

Oh! Since you brought it up....when it comes to video games, how is it that those beautiful environments, sprites, text, and sounds can all work as intended while also making sure that said assets have workable collision events? How can we make sure scores are going up if an enemy is eliminated or that the player animates a death scene when he/she is eliminated by an on-screen enemy?

The simplest answer is through code! The whole idea of learning enough code to be able to perhaps make video games, or solve an infinite variety of other problems with software development makes the whole deal of deep diving into the world of coding seem much more attractive! I truly think that one positive way for someone to feel good about themselves pretty quickly during these rough times is to start going about a coding journey. Not only will they learn to perhaps program a thing into existence (some see this as godly, including myself πŸ€ͺ), they are also reprogramming their own minds to be happier and more productive simultaneously!

If you're anything like me, once you start your journey you will obsess on understanding the fundamental levels of how code works! I've also experienced that when something clicks, I feel new synapses in my brain connecting and it makes for happy times, every time! Visualizing in my mind these occurrences has helped move me to a better place mood-wise since the beginning of this pandemic.

If you also decide this is a way forward for you, it's good to visualize where you want to go in your coding journey. Write it down and put together the steps how to get there. Make sure to take some sort of action everyday. Be it studying, writing, debugging, whateva! Once everything starts coming together you'll be super happy about every goal you accomplish in the coding realm; small or large!

Where do you start? There's an INSANE amount of free resources online that will teach you to code. Before you search for a course or tutorial, first learn what certain programming languages can do and then chose the language you'd want to go with. Start Googling and see what sites and teachers click with you best!

Pro Tip: Python is a great start because it is broadly used and also easy for humans to read after they know the built-in functionalities. It will teach you many of the fundamentals of knowing how to think and execute like a true computer scientist.

omg it's not a .gif!

This all goes to say you can definitely become extremely more valuable to yourself and society if you can learn solve problems or create amazing experiences with software! There's plenty of problems that need fixing, plenty of escapism needed (in case you go the video game development route), and plenty of money to be made in almost any coding venture. Another trite non-secret, but I digress.

Now to discuss the subject of breaking older habits in order to form these newer, more rewarding ones.

I'm not anti-gamer by any means, but I do try to understand and explain to others some of the serious issues with video game addiction. For years it had negative consequences on my own quality of life that I'm just now starting to realize and fix.

Unless someone is going to be a professional gamer, big shot YouTube personality, or extremely popular Twitch streamer (which is a long shot for most people, let's be honest), there's no need for us to spend countless hours a week repeating over and over the same tasks for diminishing returns of dopamine rushes and short-term relief. What I'm trying to say here is that I wish I put the controller down years ago and just started coding earlier. I think of where I could be if I started 8 years ago if I hadn't given up after failing out of my first Python coding course (because at that time I was too lazy and procrastination-prone). My complacency for being a non-coding and lazy potato playing video games for the temporary reliefs they provided was actually impeding progress for many years. I'm honestly kicking myself now. Don't be like me, if you're up for an extremely rewarding challenge, just start as soon as you can!

Seriously, I plead that anyone with an obsessive gaming habit to realize how the dopamine rushes released by playing games can be creating more issues than solutions. Say for instance once the addiction really sets in, there's now a daily need to get the "fix" or the rush of playing, even if it is inconvenient to the flow of real life or plans. Maybe it starts making you late for work or forget important errands. Or maybe the mood of the game lobby you're occupying determines how you respond and treat the people around you that you care about. Not constructive for your personal growth, trust me. Maybe ween da gamez down a bit if it's degrading your real social life.

Learning to code though...now that is constructive. Not easy for many people, but definitely worth the work seeing how it is full of unlimited possibilities and ways of problem solving. Needless to say that comes with great money making opportunity, but with that being said, nothing worth having comes easy!

So now I think it'd be appropriate to briefly share my personal experiences with getting back into learning code so far, with a short type of testimony about coding's efficacy in curbing negative emotions.

I was fortunate to have an old friend, Austin, reach out to me just to catch up earlier this year. We eventually ended up with the conversation about his career in as a full stack developer. Remember when I mentioned earlier about failing out of a Python course in community college 8 years back? Well, when Austin was explaining his job I honestly got pretty envious, regretting not pursuing code earlier so I could've maybe been in a similar position by this time if I didn't just flunk out of the coding course and quit that path. I ended up finishing college with just a general associate's and some technology certs, not much help in the job market.

Anyways, Austin has been awesome enough to offer resources, direction, and his time explaining any questions I've had. So since he has reached out, I've been relearning Python after not touching it since that class ended. I'd recently followed a tutorial course and created a working 2-d game with the Python pygame module, so that was a big upper moment! After consulting with Austin more with ideas I had coming in I also realized I may have palpable software to write once I become more fluent at executing runable scripts 😁

The rekindled desire to learn programming plus cutting significant video game time to decrease guilt complexes have both been making me feel much more at peace lately (which isn't always easy during perpetual self-quarantine). It feels like accomplishing something that will UNDOUBTEDLY help my career prospects in the future, while having fun through the entire process, getting the building blocks to make sense. Oh! and you better bet I'm in line to learn some other languages after Python (you're next SQL and JavaScript!).

To end this little 'beaut' of an article I'd like to leave one last piece of quick advice that's helped me keep it together a bit. If you are fortunate enough to have someone in your social circle that is willing to teach you things or help you do coding, make sure you take the opportunity and try to help them back in any way you can because frankly they have already helped you tremendously by extending their arm and it's gotta count for some great karma points to symbiotically help each other with projects or second opinions.

If you aren't fortunate enough for this type of friend/mentor situation, be sure to check out different free and up to date instructors online until you find one that works best for you. Everyone has a unique path, and I wish you all the best of success on all of yours! Be patient and don't give up yourself or your dreams! Even if it's uncomfortable and not clicking at first, keep trying until it does. I believe in you if you can read this!

After you join the coder army, consider building a couple of apps, websites, simple games, or maybe even just some text based programs. That way you have a portfolio to show the world! Then, you can start landing either a job within a company or start your own thing. There's an infinite amount of possibilities with code and there'll always problems to solve, so don't stop practicing until you can build something of use to yourself or someone else! The universe will compensate you for helping yourself along by learning the art of coding. With great practice comes great reward.

ps: Stay safe everyone, learn to code. You know, the basics πŸ˜‰


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