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Submission + - How to get a game-obsessed teenager into coding 6

looseBits writes: I have a friend who's 14 year-old son spends all his time gaming like any normal teenager however she would like to find a more productive interest for him and asked me how to get him into coding. When I started coding, it was on the Apple II and one could quickly write code that was almost as interesting as commercially available software however times have changed and it would probably take years of study if starting from scratch to write anything anyone would find mildly interesting. Does anyone have any experience in getting their children into programming? How did you keep them interested if the only thing they can do after a week is make the computer count to 10 and dump it on the screen?
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How to get a game-obsessed teenager into coding

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  • Problems.

    If you want someone interested in something, give them some practical application. Find a problem that the son could solve using programming.

    The ideal problem would be one that's intuitive enough to create a useful partial solution without a gui or too too much heavy lifting, but that's deep or broad or potentially complex and extensible enough that he can keep coming back to it and adding refinements, then maybe putting a front-end on it, tidying up edge cases, etc. Something that will encourage

    • I face the same problem, trying to contribute to OSS and programming in general, needs me to download a few books to find out about linked lists, double linked lists and all those data structures, and quite a few algorithms (I'm a EE guy). There should be some way to write code(contribute) without having to study 80% of existing Computer Science before. Disclaimer: All statistics were randomly made up on the spot.
      • I mean, sadly, that's part of the dilemma of Free Software -- it makes it harder to bootstrap, because all the low-hanging fruit gets eaten. There's no more incentive to solve the manageable problems, because someone else got there first, so it's harder to learn; and what's left is the stuff that you have to really know your stuff to work on.

        One thing you might try is debugging. It's a nightmarish job (or at least it is if you aren't patient and methodical in your free time, the kind of person who scores

  • Have him write mod scripts for game servers. Worked for me. Counter-Strike is probably a good starting point.
  • I'm not trying to sound unsympathetic (3 1/2 hours of sleep today), however - I'm not sure I would even bother trying. (Please read on before you get upset or rate my comment down). Many of my friends when we were that young had various interests. We didn't have the Internet at our finger tips to learn more about something in particular. If we were interested in any topic, we would seek out and learn about it. We had Nintendo/Atari and video gaming was hot back then as it is today. I had a few game ad
  • Java is easy enough to learn, you could try robocode.

All power corrupts, but we need electricity.