Do most programmers honestly enjoy writing code?

Mudassir Ali
Feb 10, 2020 05:30 AM 0 Answers
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Mudassir Ali
- Feb 10, 2020 05:30 AM

I’ve been a programmer for 34+ years now.

When asked what it’s like to be a computer programmer, I say – “It’s fun and interesting when you don’t know what you’re doing yet, but then it’s boring”.

Although that answer is flippant, it’s mostly true. It’s why I was a business programmer for 3 years writing in Neat/3 then I was the only non-Cobol programmer in a Cobol shop for 6 years (during which time I wiped out our entire Field Service organization by making them obsolete). After that I was a QA-Engineer for a year at an OS 24/7 reliability company (using C, Awk & TAKL), then 6 years being a Tools guy in a Games company (Using C/C++ but not really in an OOP way), followed by 5 years as a Jack-Of-Almost-All-Trades creating Mah Jong Games for the Casual Games market….and then for the last 7 years creating my own original-IP (called Clutter) for the Casual PC Download market as an indie-dev. (Since 2005 using a Framework I co-developed and fine-tuned (during the Mah Jong Years) Also in C++). I also worked for a Gambling based company being the Math/Slots guy for approximately 2-Man-Years. For my 8th game in the Clutter series, I’m learning Unity/C#.

I spend my days now constantly maintaining my business, but still love to code (because I am a code-monkey at heart). About half-way through my career (at the end of the 6-years as a non-Cobol programmer in a Cobol shop), I discovered Unix/Awk/C, etc… and started to think of myself more as a Software Engineer (as opposed to “just a programmer”). In 2009 when I went on my own to create my own original-IP, I stopped being a “gun for hire” (a person that writes code for other people’s purposes).

When I’m doing something interesting (in code) (about 80% of what I code), I still hit a “flow state” or what Maslow would call a “peak experience”. I also absolutely love it when I get something “new” that’s truly “math-based” to work. It’s always awesome to see real-math-in-code do its thing (as opposed to a near approximation hack). Back in the day, I loved debugging other people’s code and solving problems that others couldn’t. I viewed myself as a thumb, and viewed most other programmers as fingers. (And yeah, you only need one thumb in most organizations).

I think that most thumbs are like me….but I’ve known some thumbs that chose to go into “management” and stop coding on a daily basis, and I could never quite grok that decision. I’m 60 and when I truly “retire”, all that means is I’ll stop being an indie-dev-focused-on-making-money (reliably) and do more experimental programming/games.

So, to sum up, in a nutshell…my answer to your question is…”Most (thumb) programmers love writing code as long as it’s a new challenge (and not something they’ve already done before). “ For everyone else, I’m sure it’s a gradient.

Lastly, I do Game Jams once or twice a year, and although I always work alone, I always enjoy those as well (whether or not the Game I create is going to be profitable anywhere).

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