SHENZEN I/O is here to make you code like it’s the 1980s

Sign up to receive each week’s Playlist e-mail here! Also check out our full, interactive Playlist section. SHENZEN I/O (Windows, Mac) BY ZACHTRONICS Some games and educational apps try to ease you into the art of writing code. SHENZEN I/O isn’t so soft. It’s a throwback to the 1980s, when there wasn’t much so media geared towards teaching people how to code. Hence, it begins its lessons by throwing a hefty manual (which you can print out) and a number of circuit-based challenges at you, and then leaves you to figure it out. There’s a little bit of guidance at first but…


Shenzhen I/O, a game that lets you be a fake engineer

Those who’ve devoted their lives to the Cartasian Discipline in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (2008) are subject to rote memorization when they’ve broken the rules of their society. The book in which they’re to memorize from is filled with illogical nonsense, like nursery rhymes that don’t quite rhyme—a particularly aggravating punishment for a group of people dedicated, simply, to the pursuit of knowledge. “The way they punish them is by making them learn stuff that literally means nothing and is just making their lives harder,” Shenzhen I/O creator Zach Barth said. “I think of [Shenzhen I/O] in that way.” But, like, in a good way. “We’re inventing these…


Be intimidated by this lo-fi computer-programming game, or discover its secrets

Several lines of command-line text fade into the left side of your monitor. The sounds of primitive processor clicking and ancient operating system chimes remind you of the birth of the PC. The opposite of the clean and intuitive UI designs that we’ve all grown accustomed to jumps out at you, in an array of light gray modules and text. You think: “What the hell?” you are essentially teaching yourself how to program  You scratch your head a bit and squint as you turn to the reference manual. The first line reads, “The Tessellated Intelligence System is a massively parallel…