Here's The Programming Game You Never Asked For

You know what's universally regarded as un-fun by most programmers? Writing assembly language code.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at
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I would be remiss if I did not mention Code Combat

and CodinGame

and Screeps, a MMO RTS

Reaching back further, there’s also Core Wars


Speaking of programming for children, I recently came across Cubetto:

Aimed at a fairly young audience but I like the physicality it provides (plus the Logo inspiration).


There is also Box 256 which is like TIS-100, but simpler, easier and online.


My younger son (fourth grade) is currently playing Code Master. Nifty little game, gets quite tricky near the top levels.

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Shameless plug:

I’ve finished Stockfighter, and wrote a clone of the official stock exchange server. You can find that here:

I’m looking for work as a programmer in NYC, my email address is please get in touch if you also think that a game like Stockfighter is a good test of programmer skill.

I’ve felt for a long time that Stack Overflow should be doing yearly programming game events exactly like this

You would’ve loved Advent of Code

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A much better example is Pony Island. It’s a game first and foremost, but by the end of it, you discover you’ve learned something about debugging and low-level programming. Not a lot, but a taste of it, enough to make later lessons in programming feel familiar, but without feeling like you’re having the lesson shoved down your throat.


An arbitrary programming game, particularly one that goes to great
lengths to simulate a fictional system, is a wonderful expression of the
inherent joy in playing and experimenting with code.

So, you’re saying Dwarf Fortress is the ultimate programming game?

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For those in college, check out the ACM Programming Contest. It’s a blast…

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I was just going to jump in on code combat. It’s so much fun I sometimes want to sneak away from my family time so I can go… program… for fun… like I do at work.
Yeah, we’re all a little weird :slight_smile:

There’s also Screeps which I haven’t paid for, but they’re releasing an open source version of their server as part of an Indiegogo campaign.

Sort of an MMO-Programmer-StarCraft.

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From the creator of Advent of Code (mentioned earlier, and a ton of fun) is the Synacor Challenge at Also a programming challenge and game, requiring you to write a (simple) code interpreter.

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I also use to test new programmers

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At Inaka we’ve been evaluating people by playing games for almost as long as our company exists.
I’ve even created a very tough game for people who wants to learn erlang or test their erlang knowledge: it’s called Gold Fever and it’s open-sourced at github.

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The iOS game CargoBot is not dissimilar to Lightbot


I emailed Jeff to tell him how this post connected of my love for Robot Odyssey as possibly the best game of all time and the “programmers gotta program” idea along with the fact that, for the past year and a half my life has been consumed by working on an iPad game where you “program” Odyssey-esque robots to do farming for you. Anyway, he suggested I post a link here, so, here it is:

World of RoboFarmCraft – Robot farming game for the iPad (links to iTunes store).

Web site:

Thanks all, and thanks again for everything you do, Jeff! :slight_smile:

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Code Complete is one my all-time favourite programming books, but I think even Steve McConnell has been holding out on us if he referenced books from the future in the first edition of Code Complete…

Check out – a course goes all the way from a simple logic gate to a virtual machine with compiler. It’s “turtles all the way down”, and you get to build the turtles.

Oh yeah it is the same quote in both editions, with new citations. I will remove the citations though since it is confusing.