nik codes

Archive for the day “December 11, 2014”

Developer Arcade

During the holiday season I find myself reflecting over the previous year and celebrating various traditions with family and friends alike.

One of my fondest Christmas memories was back in ‘96 when my brother and I got a Nintendo 64. I remember the two of us playing Wave Race 64 together in his room all night long.

Because of this memory I tend to think about video games, which I don’t typically play, in the lead up to Christmas. I often have a desire to unwind playing them, just a little bit, in an attempt to relive those simpler days.


So this year, I began looking for games that I could play without any guilt. I looked for games that would make me a better software developer, and I found a ton! So if you find yourself bored for a few hours over the holiday break, why not try one of these games out and improve your skills?

Txt Based Games

  • Improve your touch typing skills with this simple little game made specifically for programmers who have to type a lot more curly braces and angle brackets than the standard Mavis Beacon player.
  • VIM Adventures: Keep your fingers moving in this Zelda-like overhead scroller. You’ll need to learn VIM commands, motions and operators to control your character to victory.
  • Terminus: Learn to navigate your way around the Unix shell with common commands in this Zork like text adventure.

Design Eye

  • What The Color?: How well do you understand the #hex, rbg() and hsl() color space used in CSS? This game from Lea Verou times how long it takes for you to guess a particular color. Hint: HSL is much easier to navigate once you get used to it!
  • RGB Challenge: Basically What The Color in reverse. You are given an RGB value and three colors to choose from. Selecting the proper color is more difficult that it should be. My high score is 7.
  • What px?: Very similar to What The Color, What px? challenges you with CSS length units by guessing the width of various elements.
  • Another CSS lengths game, asks you to draw boxes of various sizes.
  • The Bezier Game: Learn how to use the Pen tool, common in SVG/vector editing software, in this advanced connect-the-dots style game.
  • Hex Invaders: (Added June 11, 15) A “more fun” version of RGB Challenge with gameplay mechanics similar to Space Invaders.

Web Development

  • HTML5 Element Quiz: Quite possibly my favorite of the games, this quiz challenges you to name as many HTML5 elements as you can in five minutes. As a life long web dev, I was surprised how many I wasn’t able to remember – but even better, I learned about many new ones I’ve never used before.
  • CSS Diner: I’m also a big fan of this game. CSS Diner teaches you CSS3 query selector syntax by graphically having you select items from a bento box that have been arranged on a dining room table.
  • XSS: Learn to think like a hacker with this security game from Google. In each level you are presented with an increasing “secure” web page, as well as tips to figure out how to exploit the page with some cross site scripting. This game is really eye opening!
  • Flexbox Froggy: This fun little game teaches you the ins and outs of the CSS layout system called Flexbox by challenging you to re-layout a screen so that a frog sits on his lilly pad.


  • CodeCombat: A very complete video game, with music, sound effects, animations and graphical styling’s, CodeCombat will teach you Python, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, Clojure or Lua by getting you to write simple little programs that lead your character through each level. Think of it as Logo with modern day bells and whistles. This one seems perfect for the kids in your life.
  • Regex Golf: Presented with both a whitelist and a blacklist of strings, can you write an expression that matches all of the whitelist, and none of the blacklist? Each level teaches you a little bit more about Regex operators.
  • Learn Some SQL: Created by a few co-workers of mine at Red Gate, Learn Some SQL shows you a table of data and you have to write the SQL statement that would select the same dataset.
  • Elevator Saga: Put your algorithm skills to the test by programming a bank of elevators to be as efficient as possible.


  • Learn Git Branching: Very similar in style to Learn Some SQL, this game shows you a diagram of a Git repository, and you have to branch, merge, rebase and commit your repository into the matching shape. I’ve shown this game to people learning Git and it really helped them.

I hope you enjoy one or two of these games as well as your holiday time. Post your high scores in the comments below – along with any games that are missing from the list.

Happy Holidays!

Post Navigation