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Making Programming Fun and Games

iStock 000015653131XSmallOver the last few years, as complex development models have evolved, it's probably been anything but fun for developers, but that could be changing if gamification makes its way into the enterprise development.

In a post last week on the Official Microsoft Blog, Microsoft announced, it was releasing a game plug-in for Visual Studio to bring a little bit of recreation to the hard work of developing. The plug-in analyzes code and creates a coding leader board based on who generates the most code.

What's more, developers can earn up to 32 achievement badges in 6 categories such as "Power Coder" and "Don't Try This at Home." And if that's not enough, you can brag on your social network about your achievements, sending messages to Facebook or Twitter.

Microsoft writes it came up with idea after seeing a blog post, which then lead to a spirited discussion on Reddit with over 700 comments, some of which got into the notion of the whole game idea.

In a post the other day on Software Quality Connection, Charlie Martin, wrote that Agile programming needs, Less Process and More Discipline. In other words, shut up and code, but could this adherence to deadlines and schedules be taking the joy out of programming?

Whatever model your shop uses, coding comes down to hard mental work, making a constant series of decisions and perhaps making it a game could have some merit and drive programmers to do what they do so well. What's funny, is the original proposal was just having some fun and Microsoft took it seriously it decided to run with it. And why not?

After all, many geeks who code also enjoy gaming. If you can find a way to put the two of them together and instill a bit of competition and some fun in into the process, while still achieving those goals, it can't hurt, right?

My only reservation with this approach is the idea that the more you code, the more superior you are because all code is not created equal. If you crank out a bunch of crap do you deserve recognition for doing so?

In writing, more words, doesn't equal higher quality. I'm sure the same notion applies to programming but creating a game that rewards quality programming (the code with fewest bugs) is probably going to be harder to set up.

Gamificaiton is all the rage of course and it could appeal to programmers too, but I wonder if it sends the right messages or rewards the best programmers.

What do you think? Leave a comment and let us know.
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