Dodgeball and Coding: More Alike Than You Think


| July 6, 2011 | in

Recently, one of our intern teams and two full-timers got to hop down to the Boys & Girls Club for some volunteering. It wasn’t your usual volunteer outing; they got to play dodgeball with the kids!

The teams ended up being the young kids vs. the “old folks”, but it was a surprisingly even match. The competition was fierce and both sides gave it their all.

Through this we found a few parallels between dodgeball and coding:

  • Dodgeballs need to be caught just like exceptions in code. If you don’t catch them, you’re out.
  • Strategy changes greatly based on the number of people on your team. If you only have one or two people, they will have to do everything. Larger teams enable more specialization (Dodgeball: blocker, attacker, catcher. Coding: architect, tester, coder).
  • More people on your team can be a detriment. Think Mythical Man Month.
  • Pair programming is much like the bait & switch in dodgeball (when one person throws an easy ball up and the next person attacks from right behind them).
  • Hitting people in the face is not allowed.
  • If you don’t catch the dodgeballs, everyone has to stand in line. This is just like if you don’t have a base case for your recursive method you get a stack overflow from all of your bits essentially standing in line.
  • Like dodgeball, a scraggly bunch of 20-25 year old code is always better than 10 year old code?…except not…
  • When your competitors have a nickname for you, you know you’ve made it.
  • Don’t underestimate kids with something to prove!

We’ve had a blast with the Boys & Girl club from helping them dissect some old computers to having a ton of fun just hanging out with the kids. A highlight for us last week was seeing the kids immediately find us after the game to say “Good game”. Volunteering can be a lot of fun!

If you can dodge a bug, you can dodge a ball.

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