Lessons learned from calculator games

Many famous entrepreneurs with a code background, credit the first video games they ever made in their youth. Video games are a great vessel of code knowledge for anyone, but nothing can match the sheer joy of connecting your TI-84 with another and getting a new horde of underground games. In the early 2000's games like Oregon Trail, Galaga, and Drug Wars (yup) helped those of us with ADD get through some tough lectures.

I remember in late middle school, early high school, my Dad always asked me to study after completing my homework. Testing, and reciting knowledge came naturally to me, but he wanted to instill more discipline. Naturally, I would find a loophole.

I would sit in my room, with my school books open, and curiously hack into the basic games. I would scroll through the code and try to figure out what made the games work. What if I change this name, or this value? Many of these questions would lead to more discoveries, and within a week, I had started building my own game. I felt an immense rush of excitement, for I had tapped into a new world of knowledge.

I took an old game called Pimp Quest, and started rewriting the code. I changed pimp characters to star wars names, and "guns" into lightsabers. I modified the values of each one, making the purple one the strongest. I mean who DIDN'T like Samuel L Jackson's role in Episodes I, II, III?

I went into the city names and changed them to planets, cars were changed into ships. Then, I started writing duplicate code and adding new planets, characters, and ships. I expanded upon the game, and in two days, had a working, star wars game. It was so exciting. I felt like a Hacker God. Then I learned the importance of a comma. Somewhere in my code, I added a letter, symbol or number, and the game crashed. I scoured through it for weeks trying to find where I went wrong, and alas, I never did complete that task. I felt so deeply betrayed, and in my youth I felt "I had done so much work, I could never code that again."

I often feel like that at my present age though. I've launched startups and failed, I have raised funds and failed. I have built teams, and failed. I have accomplished many great things, and I have still failed. Although I may have quit my calculator game conquest, I sometimes think back on how devastated I was to lose the fruits of my labor. We must always pivot, and reflect. Although my game development wasn't triumphant, my point is this: hack things, break things, and question things, and of course, Star Wars movies are fantastic.

#TI83 #TI84 #calculatorgames #code #hacker #youth #lessons #entrepreneur #AltonTech