Dear Dev, again…

How have you been? I know, bug fixing week is never fun, so I tried my best to stay out of your way, but you’re always on my mind. I hope you’re well.

You must have heard the rumours. Yes, I am learning how to code. Let me tell you, it’s been ace. I've been feeling all sorts of emotions, ranging from accomplishment, delight, and excitement, to worryingly high levels of frustration and straight up rage. But I’ll tell you, I’m loving it, honest.

Coding is giving me a glimpse into your world — and some new skills to boot! Of course, I might not end up morphing into a beautiful coding butterfly, but I’ll certainly use this knowledge. Actually, I already am! I have learned a bunch of stuff that has given me a whole new appreciation for you, for reals.

I’ve already declared my love for our friendship, dev, but hear me on this: I think I get you a little bit more now. I really do. And these are some of the things I learned:

The zone is real, and it’s feeble

Of course, we do have a zone when designing stuff. But design is visual, it’s easy to sketch and take notes, and very easy to keep track of. Code, on the other hand… I didn’t fully understand the concept of that mythical beast called “the zone” before, though I had heard of it. Now that I’m actually coding, I know the sinking feeling you get in your stomach when someone calls your attention, and you’re in the middle of a train of thought, aaaand… It’s gone.

Coding is teaching me to respect the magical unicorn that is “the zone,” a rare, beautiful creature that needs to be cherished and appreciated, because of its fleetingness.

Programmer art is perfectly fine

I must be brutally honest here: I always made fun of programmer art. I did, and I’m SO SORRY! I didn’t know any better. But I have come to appreciate the roughness of programmer art after realising that art takes time, and functionality needs to come first. It seems ridiculously obvious now, but it’s easy to overlook when you don’t have to debug anything.

Programmer art is a testament to function over form, a genuinely modernist statement and, come on, real art is for artists.

And artists generally can’t code.

Coding hacks your mesolimbic pathways

I have tasted the rare thrill of coming up with a way to implement something, test it, and see it working as I expected. It’s addictive and dangerous, and you always want more. Noticing a bug is starting to give me a Pavlovian response of pleasure mixed with pain, embodying the possibility of a sweet, dreamy, dopamine rush. Like any other addiction, it’s slowly wrapping its tentacles around me, and I relish it.

What I mean is, I’m starting to understand why some of you do this. Obviously, the thrill isn’t your only motivation, but I have enough programmer friends to know that it exists, and it’s good. It’s problem-solving, after all.

Coding is damn hard

Never thought I’d be reviewing trigonometry at this point in my life. And yet, here I am, reading about it to understand what Math.Atan does because I kinda forgot how to calculate tangents and wanted to remember, out of curiosity. I’ve been studying maths and physics, which is something I totally wasn’t expecting to do. And all of this is to help me understand what I’m learning a little bit better, and it’s only scratching the surface.

Even with all the rewards, it’s a hard skill to learn, so hats off to you, dev, for persevering and making it your full-time job. I’m thankful for having you on my team.

All we are saying is give code a chance

I don’t plan on becoming a programmer, I’m learning how to code because it feels right. It’s a skill I profoundly believe everyone should have, at some level. At least everyone should give it a try because it’s probably one of the best brain exercises that exist, and it feels great! As a designer, it’s giving me a better understanding of what it takes to make my designs work, which is making me a better designer.

I can’t wait to share my horrible code with you in the near future. You can expect to see terrible little platformers and shooters with amazing programmer art and all the ugly UI. And I hope you can help me out.

With love, Lissa.


Hi, I’m Lissa. I play games, push pixels and write sometimes. I’m also a crazy-happy UI Designer working for the awesome studio Space Ape Games. If you liked this article, please ❤ below and follow me! I promise I’m cool.