Zac Shows Off His Versatility
Featured Maker Zac has a versatile list of hobbies that includes coding! Some of his interests include making songs, drawing, cooking, and playing the trombone and the piano. He also has a talent for being considerate of other people!
Zac is from Oregon and his favorite subject in school is math because he likes to be challenged. At just thirteen years old, Zac knows that he wants to be a programmer for Nintendo or make music for the radio!
How did you get introduced to Tynker and how long have you been coding? I’ve been coding for a little bit over 3 years now. I learned coding in my computer lab class when my computer teacher was introducing us to Tynker. I just loved it ever since. I started by taking a course, and that gave me the basic skills to teach myself how to do it and understand the logic and what’s going on behind the game. That’s how I got to where I am now! Since I was taking interest, my mom bought me Ava’s Adventure, which taught me how to do it and then I just figured it out from there.
How have your coding skills improved since you started using Tynker? Tynker has given me a lot of skills that I wouldn’t have unless I did it. Just being able to Tynker in general, being able to make the really complicated things, because with some of my games I have to include a lot of different stuff, like a money system. It gets really complicated, but Tynker has taught me to analyze all that and I’m able to create it now!
How did you feel when you found out your project had been featured? I felt really proud of myself; I’ve had a lot of my projects featured, but I like getting more projects featured. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something!
What is your favorite project you’ve made so far? I’d say it’s a tie between two of them. The first one is “Boss Fight Revealeo,” because that was one of my first projects that got featured and has over 500,000 views, which makes me feel very good. I see a lot of people playing it, trying to beat it, remixing it so they can change it to beat it easier. I’d say the other one would be “Chicken Clicker,” which I got my whole school addicted to–everyone plays when they can. It’s really fun!
“Boss Fight: Revealeo”
Where did you get the idea for your favorite project? For the “Chicken Clicker,” that was around the time that I got some chickens and they’re really cute, so I had the inspiration to make some sort of game with chickens. I did that for a week, and looked to my friends for some feedback and they said I should do a clicker game, so I put them together and got “Chicken Clicker”! For “Boss Fight,” I don’t really know where my inspiration came from, it just kind of popped out of nowhere. I had a plan to make a game that is kind of similar to Undertale, which is an RPG game, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I made the system for the game and then created the characters from there!
How do you get inspiration for your projects? I look to my friends and people I care about, things I do in real life and things I love. I kind of think of things that I like that will make other really people happy. I like to make other people smile with my games, so if there is an opportunity to make a lot of people smile, of course I’ll take it!
Why do you like to code? To be honest, I’m not sure, it’s really fun because I like to be creative and coding has allowed me to be creative – I’ve learned a lot about creativity since I started Tynker, which is probably my main reason to do it!
What is your favorite way to use code? I don’t really have a favorite way, I just like to keep trying things. If they don’t work, I’ll think about it and arrange it a different way. My favorite code block is probably variables because you can do so much with them. That really gives you a wider amount of things to create!
What do you do with a project when you’re done with it? First of all, I don’t publish a project before having some people test it, I usually have my friends together and they’re always willing to play my games because they’re really nice people. I have them leave me some feedback and they get to play the game – it’s good for both of us because they get to play the game early and I get some feedback so I can improve it!
What are you planning to make next? I know that there was this new game released by Nintendo that’s called Super Mario Party, and that gave me inspiration to make a game called Super Tynker Party, where I take all of my characters from my previous games, such as Revealeo, from “Boss Fight Revealeo”; Bart the Chicken, from “Chicken Clicker 2”; and some made up characters from other games I’ve had, like “Super Growing Tool.” I’m going to put them together and I’m going to make a Mario Party-inspired game, and it’s going to be amazing. I have a feeling!
What’s the best thing about Tynker? The best thing about Tynker is just having the satisfaction and pride of feeling like you can make something confidently that people enjoy. Like, “Yeah, I made that, that’s awesome that people like it, so many people play it. I made that!”
How do you think learning to code has prepared you for the future? It gets me a lot of skills that will be helpful in future jobs. I didn’t have much patience before I started working with Tynker; if things didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted, I just gave up. But I’ve gotten a lot more patient now and I can work through it, without stressing about it. I’ve also learned how to be logical about something, think about how it works, and how to put that into a game and how to make it collaborate with other things.
Do you think other kids should try coding? For sure! I would completely recommend it! It’s fun to learn new skills and even sometimes you can make new friends with your projects!
What advice would you give to kids starting out with Tynker? I would say take it slow, don’t give up. If things aren’t going your way, you shouldn’t give up because if you do, something potentially beautiful could be completely wasted and you don’t want that to happen. So, it’s good to just stay patient, take a breather, and think about what you can do to improve the project!
We sat down with Zac Sr., Zac’s dad, to talk about how he feels about Zac learning to code. “It’s fantastic,” said Zac. “Everybody got a little basic exposure in elementary school, his teacher introduced him and said that everybody should learn the basics of this and Zac really took to it. He was always into math and could figure something out and use logic. He’s creative with it too; it all makes sense with his brain and the type of way he approaches things.”
Zac also told us how he supports his son’s coding endeavors: “Making sure he has an opportunity to code. He has to earn an hour worth of video game time, but that’s only on the weekend. I know some families will just make different decisions on how long they want their kids to park it in front of the TV. We’re probably a little strict on that; he can earn his video game time, but his video game time is his coding. As long as he’s doing good, if he wants to code and work on something constructive and use his brain and skills, then we support that. There’s ways he can earn more coding time too!”
When it comes to how coding helps Zac in developing a variety of skills, Zac Sr. told us: “Sometimes he’ll throw something together in 20 minutes and say he’s done, but some of these other bigger ones he’ll continue to work on and get feedback. I mean he’s learned the importance of perseverance and sticking with something…On top of just the actual skill, if he wanted to go into coding or computer science or something, that’s a career itself that he’s preparing for. But he’s a musician as well and has learned stuff from Tynker that he can apply in his music making, he learns stuff through community and his friends, just through the social connection that Tynker has given him. Just a whole lot of life lessons that are coming from this coding website, but a lot of it is and because he stuck with it. He continues to thrive and we’re all on board with it!”
We want to thank Zac and Zac Sr. so much for taking the time to speak with us about your experience using Tynker and coding! We look forward to seeing more exciting projects!