How did I learn to code? What is the first programming language I learned? These are all the questions that I am asked very often! That is why I decided to write an entire article about it. Here is the long-awaited answer: I started learning the code thanks to Neopets around 11-12 years old!
What is Neopets?
Neopets is an online game where you can own virtual animals called “Neopets.” The game is very complete: it has online shops, puzzles, flash games, discussion forums, guilds, galleries, virtual houses … and much more!
Why I loved playing Neopets
Of the 10 years spent playing Neopets, I have never fed my little virtual creatures. That’s not why I played this game. What I liked to do was raise money, Neopoints, with various strategies: the stock market, buying and reselling more expensive objects, auctions, exchanges of lots of objects, etc.
I also liked to accumulate avatars; these are the small images that we could acquire when we succeed specific actions: to have +1000 points to a game, to participate in an enigma, to participate in an annual event of the game, etc. Between you and me, the more avatars you have, the more you are considered cool by other players. These avatars are then your “profile image” on the forums.
We could also collect trophies. We could win awards by having the highest score in games or by participating in annual events. Here again, the more awards you have, the cooler you are!
Neopets does not look like that, but it’s a very complex and complete game. There are things to do for all tastes. I can not list all the possible activities; there are too many!
Where is the code in all of this?
You may be wondering how all the activities I listed above are about the code… well, the code is everywhere on the game! We can use HTML and CSS to make our user profile look better, like this:
We could also customize our online shop:
But what I liked the most was to manage my guild to design it. Guilds were a private community where players could chat with each other in our discussion forum. Here is a guild I picked at random to show you what it looks like:
Now that I think about it… Already, at 12-13 years old, I wanted to lead a guild, lead a group of people… I already had leadership in me! In the guilds, the leaders often organized activities: raffles, auction of objects (because yes, there is also an auction center where you can have good deals if you are quick to offer prizes!), small games between members … Because the goal is that our members have fun in the guild and remain active!
I started to create graphics in French
So I started doing graphics in French! I lost my first graphics that were made with Paint. I can tell you they were not very pretty! By cons, in those years, Photoshop and company were not as popular yet, so my graphics were ugly but still used by other players.
After Paint, I started using PhotoFiltre. I followed some tutorials and then I managed to create graphs like this:
I then proposed my graphics to the French community of Neopets, and they were famous for a few months. After that, better designers than me have arrived to take over with the famous photoshop!
I continued to offer graphics to players on a static HTML / CSS website hosted on freewebs.com. I remember very well getting up at dawn, 6-7am, during the week and on the weekend, to work on my little site, create more graphics to propose to players. To the misfortune of my mother who saw me spend all my time on the computer and was desperate to get me off the computer!
My favorite memory about this website is when I had to update my navigation bar. Since it was a static website, I had to go and edit ALL my HTML pages just to add 1 more link on the navigation. It’s crazy how much time I lost because I had a static website!
Then, in High School…
Then, in high school, I had the chance to have computer courses during the 5 years that lasted my studies. If I didn’t learn HTML and CSS on Neopets before, I’m not sure if I would have taken the IT classes. I had that many classes because I was in a private school, I think. The public schools of my friends did not have the chance to have so many computer courses.
I was lucky enough to have a great teacher. From Secondary I, at age 12, we created a video game with Stagecast Creator. I don’t know why I remember this particular project, I think I was pretty impressed with what we can do on a computer!
Leaving high school at the age of 16, I was known as the walking girl reading and spending all her lunch hours at the computer lab! I like this description, it suits me well 🙂
After High School, I completed a college degree in computer sciences. I am currently studying software engineering at university and only have one year left until graduation. I am in the process of beginning a masters in machine learning! I will explain the rest of my education journey in another blog post.
I hope this blog post answers the never-ending question of how I learned to code and got interested to tech! I know we are a lot of people that started coding with Neopets. Is this your case too? Let me know in the comments of this article, I would love to know your story!
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