Dude, it’s code – we can do anything!

“Dude, it’s code – we can do anything!” That line has stayed in my head for years, I heard it at a games conference five or six years ago. It was a panel on emotions in games and one programmer* elaborated on the obsession with simulation, as opposed to literature or drama where emotions are central. His example was the key scene in Lord of the Rings where Sam holds a rope for Frodo to climb. The drama is that Frodo has to trust Sam to not let go, but in a video game the focus would be on the rope itself: How much weight can it carry? How long is it? Does it break suddenly or a little at a time? But, the algorithms of trust are just as possible to program as those of rope physics. Another panelist agreed and quoted a colleague that said to any development challenge “Dude, it’s code – we can do anything!”.  There only limit is our own imagination and it is for us to decide whether to make the suspense around the rope itself or the people on its ends.

I remind myself of this phrase every time I hear this or that is not possible, or when somebody tells me we have to accept how technology changes society. We decide, not technology. Dude, it’s code – we can do anything!

*) whose name is sadly lost to me, if you read this let me know – I want to thank you!