January 26, 2023
min read

10 Coding Games to Teach You How to Code

Luis Minvielle

What if learning to code was actually fun?

If you’re learning to code, then you’re either hustling, grinding, or drudging your way into a Python statement, clenching your teeth as you attempt to get a “Hello World” to print on screen for the third time. There’s no such thing as “having a good time” while attempting to run code. If we guide ourselves by the voices from the Internet’s incessant doomscroll, there’s only one correct way of learning to code: toiling away and typing one’s fingers to the bone.

Unless video games could guide you in the programming process. You know the gist of it: If a video game requested you to smash the circle button in the quickest physically possible way, you’d have no qualms about peeling your fingers to the bone. So, if to win a video game, you had to get the “Hello World” going… maybe it wouldn’t require you to plough away that much.

Coding games for programmers

The good news is, there are plenty of such games, and there are a goodly bunch of facts to suggest video games can help you learn to code. Studies show Europeans spent 9 hours a week during 2021 playing video games. Reputable sources report that that’s about as much time students from a six-month coding bootcamp devote to programming per week. Learning through video games gets a positive light even for youngsters: In a study by the Entertainment Software Association, two-thirds of the inquired parents answered they believed video games were helping their children in their education. 

Playing video games that allow modding or scripting can help programmers to think about game mechanics and how to apply their skills in a fun and engaging way. It allows them to use programming concepts in a more relatable context than just traditional coding exercises.

Then again, did you really need convincing to start playing video games? Here’s a list of games and video games that will make learning to code a lot more fun! 

1. CodeCombat (2013)

This game is like a programming bootcamp, but you can replace boring lectures with dragons and goblins. CodeCombat uses a variety of languages, including Python, JavaScript, and Lua, to guide players through different levels of coding challenges. It's perfect for beginners who want to learn the basics of programming in a fun and interactive way.

2. Code Wars (2013)

code wars coding game

Code Wars is a gym for the brain. It offers coding challenges in various languages, including Python, Ruby, Java, and JavaScript. It's designed to be challenging, making it perfect for experienced programmers who want to push their skills to the limit.

3. CodinGame (2012)

codingame coding game

This game is like a buffet for programmers. It offers a variety of coding challenges in languages such as Python, Java, C++, and more. It's devised to be fun and engaging, perfect for programmers of all skill levels who want to expand their problem-solving skills and learn new languages.

4. Minecraft (2011)

mincraft game image

The best-selling video game of all time is a sandbox, but instead of sand, you're using code. The game has a modding community where players can create custom mods and plugins using the Java programming language. This allows players to change the game's mechanics, add new features, and build up their game modes. 

5. Kerbal Space Program (2011) 

kerbal space program coding game

This game is like NASA, but with fewer budget cuts and recession invulnerability. The game has a built-in scripting API that allows players to create custom mods using C#. This permits players to automate specific tasks, create new parts and game mechanics, and even control the game's physics engine. Playing Kerbal Space Program can help programmers learn about physics simulation and game logic.

6. RimWorld (2013)

rim world coding game

RimWorld is a  survival game where you’re fighting back against the harshness of the planet. The game has a modding feature that allows players to create custom mods using C#. Players can add new buildings, items, and game mechanics, and even change the game's AI. Playing RimWorld can help programmers learn about game AI and game logic.

7. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)

If you caught wind of how JavaScript will help build the metaverse, and you’re looking for reasons to get going and learn it, MGS2 might be the push you need. This game is like an acid-fried spy movie, but you have a keyboard and a tangled brain instead of a firearm. Backed up by a mind-snarling storyline, it plays like a virtual carbon copy of the previous Metal Gear games, with the simulation coming so close to life that the bounds between the virtual universe and IRL are blurry and shaken. Does VR and metaverse sound familiar? The game's invisible antagonists, the Patriots, control the world through various algorithms and decision-making processes. Playing Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty can help programmers learn about AI decision-making algorithms, pathfinding, game logic, and tactical action espionage.

8. BioShock (2007)

bioshock game screenshot

This game is like a philosophy class, but instead of writing essays, you're shooting genetically-enhanced freaks. The game's various perks, ammo, and provisions are dispensed and controlled by cool-looking state machines, which is a fundamental concept in programming. Going through the underwater city of Rapture in BioShock can help programmers learn about AI state machines and game logic.

9. Age of Empires II: Definitive Edition (2019)

age of empires

This game is like a history class, but instead of studying, you're conquering. Playing the game allows programmers to understand how AI decision-making algorithms work, by seeing the AI players on the game making decisions, like choosing what types of units to build, where to expand, and how to attack or defend. This can give them a more in-depth understanding of creating intelligent and dynamic systems in their code.

10. Game Dev Story (2010)

game dev story coding game

This game is like a management simulation, but instead of managing a factory, you're managing a game development studio. The game has a feature that allows players to create custom games using a variety of genres, platforms, and art styles. Players can also hire staff and assign them to different tasks such as programming, design, and sound. Playing Game Dev Story can help programmers learn about the game development process, project management, and how different roles in game development work together. Furthermore, releasing a game and scoring a perfect ten on a zealous review site feels better than most things in life.

Bonus: SteamWeb API

In addition to the games mentioned earlier, SteamWeb API is another excellent resource for programmers. SteamWeb API is a web service set that allows developers to access Steam's data, such as game information, player statistics, and achievement progress. The API is available in various languages, including JavaScript, Python, and C#, allowing developers to build custom applications and integrations with Steam. Using SteamWeb API can help programmers learn about web services, data manipulation, and game development.

It’s game over for the grind, folks

There will always be complex realities in life like being scolded for forgetting to get the trash out = or being poked fun at for using PHP. But learning to code (or improving on existing skills) is no longer part of that group of harsh, hard truths.

There’s no reason why you can’t have fun and learn at the same time. Hopefully, I’ve given you a few more games to check out after work, let me know if I’ve missed any really good ones. And finally, if you’re looking for a new developer job, head over to our job platform to see what opportunities are out there!

Thanks for reading ✌️

10 Coding Games to Teach You How to Code

January 26, 2023
min read

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