Programming as play

Austin Z. Henley discusses programming as play:

Sometimes I enjoy programming as play. The only goal is that I make something fun and whimsical that serves no real purpose except maybe that I can share it with friends.

Similarly, I’ve written about why I prefer making useless stuff, which caused quite a ruckus on Hacker News and Reddit.

But I find it so freeing when there is no expectation to accomplish an objective or for the outcome to even be usable. I just want to enjoy the creative process of building something and possibly show it to others. Many people seem to think of programming as purely pragmatic. Something you do only for work or to get a task done.

I want to change the notion that programming has to be a serious endeavor.

In fact, there is an academic paper that studied this phenomenon: Expressions on the Nature and Significance of Programming and Play. They did a qualitative analysis on Hacker News comments to understand how programmers interpret programming as play through their own experiences.

That isn’t to say that play is useless, or at least not in the sense that I wrote about before. I think it is quite the opposite! There is something about the expectation of doing something to get a job done or to learn or to make money that takes away from the enjoyment of just doing.

Even so, people have successfully applied play to more serious tasks. For example, GidgetScratchMinecraft Education, and Lego MindStorms incorporate elements of play to teach children how to program.

My goal really is just to have fun though, and learning is a nifty consequence.

Read more here.

Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here:

Join Adafruit on Mastodon

Adafruit is on Mastodon, join in!

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Join over 36,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — “Packaging” chips in the US

Wearables — Enclosures help fight body humidity in costumes

Electronics — Transformers: More than meets the eye!

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: Silicon Labs introduces CircuitPython support, and more! #CircuitPython #Python #micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Guardian Robot, Weather-wise Umbrella Stand, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — #NewProds 7/19/23 Feat. Adafruit Matrix Portal S3 CircuitPython Powered Internet Display!

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

No Comments

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.