To be honest, I had no idea what to expect with Scratch. All I knew was that there was this thing we were supposed to download, and there was a cat on it. I downloaded it, opened it, and was immediately baffled. I couldn’t get the stupid cat to do anything. It wouldn’t move with arrow keys, WASD, the mouse, nothing. Not only would it not move when I thought I was telling it to move, but for some reason the geniuses who designed the stupid game had put the cat in a little tiny white box in the upper right hand corner, and there was just a bunch of grey space taking up the rest of the screen. Clicking in the grey space did nothing, and clicking on the colorful boxes in the upper left corner also did nothing. So I closed my computer, deciding that the game was stupid and I didn’t like it.
I was mildly surprised in class the next day to discover that Scratch wasn’t actually a game. It’s a program that a person can use to make games. Making a videogame, and programming in general, has never interested me very much. Computers can be intimidating, and when things get technical, I typically feel like I am treading in foreign waters while software sharks swim around me waiting for any sort of mistake to be made. Fortunately for me, though, Scratch’s programming was graphical in nature, making things easier for somebody like me. By using this software, almost any game could be made by anybody. Minecraft, for example, was found online, which is just mind blowing. I was having trouble making a simple maze for Jetpack Girl, one of the sprites, but somebody was able to make Minecraft.
It was good for me to try to puzzle out how best to make a game. I had never really thought about the amount of work that goes into making a videogame, from art and textures, to the background, to the physics of the game itself. Sort of like how a person who lives in a house doesn’t think about how the house was built, who built it, or all the little things that had to be done to make it habitable. Scratch made me think about these things, albeit in the most rudimentary way possible. It was actually kind of fun, trying to puzzle out a way to prevent the sprite I was working with from being able to cross over black lines.
Basically, Scratch gave me a whole new appreciation for videogame developers. Even using a program that was designed to be simple and easy to use, I had a tough time getting my sprites to do what I wanted. I can’t imagine what it must be like to try to program a game like Pac-Man, much less a game like Skyrim or Mass Effect. While programming isn’t at all something I would like to do for hours on end, Scratch was educational, and helped me understand how hard game developers work to produce such wonderful games.