If you like to play video games, this blog might be right for you. I would like to share today some games which require coding. Even if you're tired of coding from work, these offer unique challenges and in general, I consider them to be very enjoyable in short sessions.
This is the most challenging game from the list, thus making it hard to recommend for everyone. TIS-100 is a fictional programmable microcomputer (let's say virtual representation of microcomputer) which comes with its own technical documentation you should probably print out for convenient reasons. But don't be scared, TIS-100 is even more simple than ATtiny2313. It contains a very limited set of essential instructions and a few utility registers. Your goal is to somehow transform data set from inputs and pass it to outputs using a grid of programmable nodes. If you want, you can push yourself to better implementations because game counts different statistics regarding the execution of your code. If you've never written assembly language, this might be a good introduction to the whole new world of low-level coding.
While TIS-100 was a quick experiment from Zachtronics, Shenzhen IO is a more fleshed out, more accessible and more interesting realization of the same idea. Instead of using a predefined microcomputer, you will design your own electronics using programmable circuits. That means in order to write code, you have to build the device first using different circuits and sometimes even reverse engineer provided a piece of electronic using the signal analyzer. The game has a nice graphical presentation and features even characters and stories. And of course printable computer manual.
Human Resource Machine / 7 Billion Humans
If I should teach my potential unborn kids programming, I would probably use Human Resource Machine. Even though the later parts of the game are still challenging, the way of putting code together is very intuitive and visual. By dragging different command blocks to the execution list, you define the behavior of an office worker which has to execute mundane office tasks. Even though the game isn't very unique gameplay-wise, it features a very specific type of humor and cute art style. Developers released a follow-up with name 7 Billion Humans, which is basically a parallelized version of HRM. Pretty much everything is the same or similar - art style, music, unique humor and control scheme. But this time, you control a group of office workers using one program. It means there is a larger emphasis on decision blocks and also debugging and stepping through the code.
Author: Luděk Novotný