Why I decided to become a programmer

Call me nostalgic, but I was thinking recently about the day when I knew for sure that I had to become a software developer. I studied Computer Science at the University of Bucharest. During my first year, the only programs that I created were about solving math problems or various algorithms using. That was very useful and I did learn a lot during my first year. But, I was imagining myself writing those kinds of procedural applications for the rest of my life and the thought of that was not particularly pleasing. Something was missing. And that something was passion.

In the second year we had a teacher that requested us to write a simple video game. More specifically, I had to develop a game where the user had to drive a car and respect all the traffic rules like stop signs, speed limits, traffic lights, etc. Each time the player broke a rule, his score would decrease. Each time the player respected the rules, his score would increase. If the score reached zero, then the game was over. Also, if the user crashed his car, the game would end.

Having not written any applications other than algorithms, this sounded a little scary at first. I remember saying to myself: “How am I going to do this?”, “I have never written something where people need to interact with my program”, “Am I going to pass this course?”, etc. As you can see, I did not have not have the most positive attitude. But, failing the course was not an option so I began studying. I begun searching the web for tutorials and technologies that could help me achieve my goal. I stumbled upon Adobe Flash. And no, it was not dead in 2008. I chose Flash because it was quite easy and fun to arrange the game scene, to create graphical elements and to interact with them programmatically. For the following 6 weeks, I spent each day working on this game. But the funny thing was that it did not feel like work. For the first time I was enthusiastic about creating this game and about making it as cool as possible. It was also extremely fun. Hours seemed like minutes. Weeks seemed like days. These were 6 amazing weeks, that I will never forget. I remember every tiny success, like making the car horn or calculating the fuel consumption based on the speed of the car. And every frustration caused by bugs. Back then I called it passion. Today, developers call it “the zone“. This feeling convinced me to become a developer. I said to myself “If creating a program can feel this good and rewarding, than I want to do it for the rest of my life”. I believe that every passionate software developer has a similar story.

I strongly believe that in the software industry, passion is everything. It is the feeling that will make us better at what we do. It is the feeling that will make us happy and satisfied with our work. So, it is up to us to hold on to it.

P.S. Here are a couple of screenshots from the game. It might seem simplistic and I know it has some bugs, but working on it had an impact on my life. So, I love it:)  If you want to check it out, just click here. You will need Adobe Flash and some patience because the game is in Romanian. To control the car, you can use the W,A,S,D keys. To limit the speed, or horn you need to click on the buttons in the bottom right corner.

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