Meet the Scratcher: _nix
Friendships in the Scratch online community are strengthened by collaborating on projects
By My Nguyen
If you ask the Scratcher _nix how they got started with the Scratch, they’ll tell you that they don’t remember. With a little more thought, they’ll add that it may have been after their mom saw Mitchel Resnick’s “classic TED talk.”
“It was so long ago. I joined Scratch with my first account, liam48D, in February of 2013 — a little before the Scratch website and editor transitioned from 1.4 to 2.0. I’d used Scratch 1.4 for a while before I registered my account. I think I saw the “Share” button and saw I needed an online Scratch account to share my projects, and that’s when I asked if I could make an account. I was only nine!”
No matter how they got started, _nix, now 15 years old, is an active member of the Scratch community, collaborating with other Scratchers on projects and even helping the Scratch Team with small bug fixes in the Scratch editor. Collaboration, they’ve observed, is a key aspect of the online community.
“ I see people helping out others on Scratch all the time… people who’ve commented on their profiles or projects, and who’ve commented in little studio-communities, and who’ve made a question topic on the discussion forums — and that’s so nice! The community is really friendly, too — happy to help you with any programming questions, but also to collaborate together, and to make friends.”
We recently caught up with _nix over email to learn more about their experiences in the Scratch community.
Responses have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Can you tell us about your first project?
The first project I shared was Ball Game. It was really simple — you move your mouse around, and whenever you touch a ball that teleports around the screen, you get a point. I don’t think there was even a time limit, so the score you got didn’t really mean anything, besides how long you spent playing it! It was a collaboration between my sister and me. I think I was showing Scratch to my sister, and this is the project she helped me put together.
Do you remember the first time you collaborated with other Scratchers in the community?
The first important time I really participated in the community was when I joined the collaboration PokeIndustries. We were working together on a Scratch Pokémon RPG (role-playing game); I contributed my ideas and helped make a couple small projects that showed of my ideas. It was the very first time I collaborated with anyone online. I used to go to an after-school program where other kids and I worked together to make crafts, but online collaboration was so different! I made my first online friends as I worked with the other active users in the “collab.” The collaboration didn’t really last all that long, but the friendships I made from it sure did.
How do you get ideas for your Scratch projects?
Sort of erratically! I don’t actually do any brainstorming. Instead of me thinking “I want to make a Scratch project; what project will I make?”, I usually think, “Wow, I could probably make this random thing that just popped into my head in Scratch!” A lot of my projects are inspired by things I see around the internet, though. Looking at projects by other people — both on Scratch and on other sites — gives me a lot of my ideas.
Describe one of your favorite projects.
I think my favorite Scratch project is epninja’s System Format. It’s an RPG-story game where you have to figure out why somebody’s trying to take over the computer that the game runs and the characters live in. I really like it because all of its parts come together really nicely. It’s a game, but unlike many other games, it has a story — and it’s a pretty interesting, emotional story, too! And of course, the game itself is fun to play; it’s challenging to pass obstacles, but very satisfying when you do. Oh, and of course, the art and animation, a combination of pixel art and digitally-drawn anime-style pictures, is really good!
What’s a memorable experience you’ve had in the Scratch community?
PokeIndustries basically introduced me to the Scratch discussion forums, and that’s where most of my memorable experiences started. The place that felt like home the most to me was the Advanced Topics, /discuss/31/. The funny thing about the Advanced Topics is that everyone was sort of knit into a little community of Scratchers who were interested in relatively more complicated programming stuff. It was a pretty open community, too, and I felt welcome there. As I posted in different threads there, I started making friends; and these friendships were strengthened a lot when we worked on projects that were outside of Scratch. I remember Opensprites, Elemental, and my programming language; these were all “collabs.” The people who I made those with are still my closest friends!
How is the Scratch community different from other communities in your life?
When I compare Scratch to, say, Twitter, I feel that generally people are quite a bit more positive here. There are less arguments, and when arguments that do happen, people are usually friendly and respectful of each other. It’s refreshing!
It’s really easy to meet people on Scratch, too. On other sites, before I comment on things people have made or said, I tend to think, “Will this make me look silly? Is it weird of me to ask or comment this, or even to just say hi?” But on Scratch, I don’t feel that at all, so it’s easier to talk to people I don’t even know. I think that’s because people on Scratch are generally really friendly. And it means I get to say hello to a lot of people I wouldn’t otherwise!
What have you learned about yourself through creating and participating on Scratch?
My answer to this is actually everything, in a way. I’m 15 years old now, and I was around 10 when I started really participating in the community. I’ve grown and changed a lot on here. I’ve become a lot more respectful and understanding; I’ve gotten a lot of experience in working together with other people on things. I’ve made friends who, through more direct talking with them, have helped me learn tons about my self.
Have you learned anything on Scratch that you’ve been able to apply outside of Scratch?
Well, obviously all of my programming skills basically derive from Scratch. (Actually, a lot of what I’ve learned in other programming languages helps me code with Scratch, too.) Scratch acted as the place where I put a lot of my early digital art, which has definitely led to me becoming a lot better at drawing. The time I spent collaborating with people on Scratch projects has made me a lot better at working together on things outside of Scratch. And that sort of extends to my being who I am, too — I think this welcoming, friendly community has helped raise those traits in me.
What advice would you give to a new Scratcher?
Well, make and share Scratch projects; but also, be part of the community! You can take it slow if you want, maybe starting by leaving small comments on projects you like, or introducing yourself in the New to Scratch subforum. Being part of the community is a great way to make friends and learn things, and you’ll have lots of fun and valuable experiences.
My Nguyen is Communications Specialist for the Scratch Foundation.