We're told that coding is the saleable skill of the decade and also a pretty sweet pastime if you're into building your own apps or games. But traditional coding courses can be seriously dry (think the Sahara at midday in the dry season).
Luckily, the industry is always looking for ways to bring people into the fold and has developed a range of games that keep the process engaging.
Why do it the boring way when you can link into your Steam, download an app, or load up a website? There's a reason why we begin to learn with toys and games as children, and it's not just because we can't sit still for more than 20 seconds. It's because when something's more fun, it's more motivating. Plain and simple!
So, whether you're a total beginner or looking to level up your current skills, these games will help you skill up while living it up.
In the game, you play as your chosen character. You'll adventure through dungeons, creepy forests, and battlegrounds and gain experience points as you advance. With hundreds of levels and quests to complete, you are kept entertained as you progress through each level.
CodeCombat has been developed as a classroom teaching aid, and this structured learning approach shows in its user-friendly interface. On a screen divided in two, you input your code on the left side and watch your character act out your instructions on the right.
The pacing of the game is well balanced. Each level allows you to advance without feeling overwhelmed by tasks or frustrated by slow progress.
- Simple, easy-to-use interface
- Genuinely fun and engaging to play
- Only parts of the game are free; to access full content, you need to subscribe.
- At $9.99 per month for full access, it's a little pricey compared to others.
Where CheckiO really excels is in its community-led approach to problem-solving. The forum is chock-full of coders of all levels who work to find solutions and offer newer players advice on their code. In their world, no coder is alone.
To solve puzzles, you need to know the basics. Although the game tries to teach some foundational stuff, the tutorials still assume a lot of the user, and you're moved quickly to more complicated scenarios.
- Sharing and comparing puzzle solutions with other users
- Gets your brain firing on all cylinders with complex puzzles
- The interface can be confusing at times and often difficult to navigate for a beginner.
This neat little game has been developed for android apps by Codinism and comes with a seal of approval from Code.org.
In Programming Hero, you get to build your own game (think Space Invaders), which creates a sense of achievement at the end. The developers have made the process fun by giving players the chance to win gems and surprise gifts along the way.
The game builds your skills at a steady pace. Each time you learn a new programming concept, you are given the opportunity to put it into action by adding a new element to your game.
The play can feel slightly repetitive, but for those totally new to coding, the example, action, and confirm formula helps to solidify the content of each lesson.
The main aim of the app is to teach the principles of code rather than a specific language, and so it only uses Python3. This is great for beginners but could leave more advanced users feeling shortchanged.
- Simple, easy-to-use interface
- Builds a very strong foundation in the basics
- Currently only available on Google Play.
- Typing script can feel slow on your mobile.
Swift Playgrounds has been developed to help users understand Apple's Swift programming language. Since Swift is the main language used in iOS and macOS development, any budding app developer should find it an easy and valuable leg up.
The game builds from the simple function of allowing players to move their character around the platform, to solving more complex puzzles, levels, and coding tasks. Because the game is custom-made to fit Apple products, tools such as QuickType and the coding keyboard or touch edit and a pop-up keypad remove the effort that is usually associated with the coding on a device.
Swift Playgrounds' standout feature is its community of leading programmers and developers, who create new challenges and puzzles for users to solve outside the main game.
- A full and comprehensive guide to using Swift
- Puzzles created by app developers
- While aimed at all ages, the game can focus too heavily on pleasing younger players.
Human Resource Machine
In Human Resource Machine, the player is an office worker who is given tasks to complete by their boss. At each level, you have to find a way to automate your task before moving on to the next.
Rather than typing script, the game uses a drag-and-drop format, which encourages you to focus on the logic and flow of the code rather than the language. The setup may look simple, but the levels quickly become more difficult and require more sophisticated solutions.
- Great for developing procedural language skills
- Cheap at just $14.99 on Steam
- Skill level requirements jump very quickly.
Generally considered to be the best coding game, paid or free, CodinGame has perfected gamified coding over many years and with the input of many industry-leading contributors.
The aim of the game is to hone your existing skills on both multiplayer and solo turn-based challenges.
With over 25 languages including Java, Rust, C#, and Lua, CodinGame offers huge potential to learn the skills of a full-fledged coder. Add in an almost endless stream of new challenges and puzzles (some provided by the developer, others by more experienced users) and you could be set for life.
This game, like others, is built on its strong community. It has a direct, in-game connection to Tech.io, a platform where developers share their knowledge with less experienced coders. So there's a wealth of knowledge here just waiting to be tapped into.
- CodinGame allows headhunters to contact exceptional players with job offers.
- You'll need to learn the basics before you play.
Codewars is definitely not for newbies, but it's on this list because once a player gets past the beginner stage, no other game on the market is better at building pro skills.
In the game, the player needs to complete challenges (or kata) by finding the most efficient solution to any problem. There are many possible solutions to each challenge, so it's up to the community to vote for the "best practice" and agree as to which solution is the most sophisticated.
- Over 20 different program languages
- Huge and active community
- Be prepared to have any skills you have learned tested to the max.
The Final Say …
This list is just a snapshot of the frankly pretty huge range of coding games available on the market, all of which cater to specific needs.
If you're learning code to build a personal website, there are many free website builders out there, most of which make learning to code a bonus rather than a necessity. But, if you're looking to get into gaming, app, or web development (and with the salaries I wouldn't blame you if you do), these entertaining games are a great place to start.
About the Author
Hannah Vicarage is a budding entrepreneur who runs a small cosmetic business. When she isn't out whipping up a buying frenzy at the local markets or selling online, she lends her hand writing for ukwebhostreview.