Non-Linux FOSS: Code Your Way To Victory!

One of my favorite things about grade school was when the teacher would review for a test by playing Jeopardy. I'm pretty old, so my version of classroom Jeopardy was done on a chalkboard with the teacher reading answers from index cards, but the new computer-based versions I see in schools are at least as cool. There's just something about learning while playing games that is awesome.

Learning to write code is a chore that often is considered boring. Heck, the only way I'm able to slog through the process is to have a project in mind. I need to be solving a problem in order to find the motivation to write the code, and learning the "tools" really becomes part of the enjoyment. Thankfully, I'm not alone in my desire to tie learning into fun. The folks over at CodeCombat have created a gaming system that uses proper coding techniques to help your hero solve a quest.

The "game" actually feels like a cross between The Incredible Machine (or Crayon Physics if you're too old to remember TIM), and the old LOGOS turtle we guided around the screen in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of the gaming elements seem like a stretch (magic boots give you the ability to write code that moves your character), but the goofiness adds to the fun a bit. Plus, the graphics are really well done, and the background music rocks.

CodeCombat is free to use, and it includes 100 or so coding exercises. If you're really into the game and want to improve your coding skills further, there is a $9.99/month subscription that opens up video tutorials, more levels and so on. There's even a price break if you buy multiple subscriptions for those little coders in your life.

Even though the game itself isn't FOSS, and actually runs in a Web browser instead of a particular platform, I put Code Combat in our Non-Linux FOSS spot this month because it teaches code. Teaching people to write code is the first step in creating a FOSS world, and for that reason, I also award Code Combat this month's Editors' Choice Award. Check it out today, and see if it's a good fit for you or other potential coders in your life: https://codecombat.com.

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Shawn Powers is a Linux Journal Associate Editor. You might find him on IRC, Twitter, or training IT pros at CBT Nuggets.