Way, way, waaaaaaaaay back in the 80’s, before I knew anything about building websites, my parents bought us kids a Commodore 64 computer.
I can still remember, vividly, how excited we were to get our hands on it. The 80’s were great for inter-galactic entertainment. Space Invaders and Defender were the rage back then and, along with the Empire Strikes Back, had kids like me totally smitten.
The C-64 wasn’t actually the first piece of hi-tech to take pride of place in our TV cabinet. Before that we had this beast from Atari. Anyway, the thing that made the Commodore 64 different was that it had a keyboard and you could program it to do things.
This concept blew my 10-year-old mind. Immediately I told my parents I was going to program a video game where a butcher chases a pink pig along a platform and at the end of that platform the pig falls into a bag and the butcher ties him up*.
I could visualize this so clearly in my mind – the colour of the pig, the sound he’d make falling off the plank, the butcher’s apron, his meat cleaver, etc.
My parents smiled, said something like “great idea” and then gave the computer to my technically talented older brother (who later became and avionics engineer) and he actually did go off and program it. I think the first thing he did was make the letter ‘B’ travel across the screen – or something like that.
That Commodore 64 was great. It had some excellent games but I never did learn how to program. Unfortunately, I didn’t have by brother’s talent for coding. Design and communications has always been more my thing and, at that point in history, programming and design were worlds apart.
Fast forward to now
Fast forward 30 years and that’s not the case at all. A couple of years back I picked up a Playstation 3 game called Little Big Planet and my 35-year-old mind was blown, again, just like back in the 80’s.
I haven’t got around to doing it, but with the Little Big Planet I could turn that Butcher and Pig idea into reality, without knowing any programming at all.
Using drag and drop, images you upload yourself, you can make anything you want and upload it to the cloud for other people to play. Little Big Planet has more than 8 million user-designed levels hosted on its platform.
Why am I telling this story? Well, I’ve spent the past couple of weeks building a new website – www.francisstevens.co.nz.
My first experience building a website was for New Zealand Dairy Group in 1999. It was the company’s first ever venture onto the world wide web. The website doesn’t exist anymore (neither does NZ Dairy Group since its merger with Kiwi Dairies) but it was little more than a static online, corporate brochure. It cost an arm and a leg to make and required a team of programmers, who spoke what seemed like an alien language, to build.
I’m not claiming to be a master website builder but the fact that I can deliver a professional, functional end result and it’s a 1000% more interactive than what we made for NZ Dairy in 1999 – BLOWS MY MIND!!!
*Note: I grew up on a pig farm