Owen Li cracks the code


Provided by Owen Li

Owen Li in the stands of a football game as he participates in one of his other hobbies: playing the flute.

Just as many other kids often enjoy in their free time, freshman Owen Li loves to play video games. 

The thrill of moving up a level, or beating the boss, or even just figuring out the ropes of a new game, is something that kids search for in this age of technology. 

However, unlike most people, Owen wanted to go beyond just playing the games; he was interested in how they worked, and sometime within the last year, he started making his own games, as he taught himself how to code. 

“I started [coding] because I like building games,” Owen said, “and seeing what it did, and doing it from my own hands rather than just playing it on, let’s say, a website that you visit. It was also cool to see what my ideas were and my thoughts that I had.”

When he decided to jump into the world of coding, Owen started with a beginning class that taught him the basics of the skill and how to start out with creating pages. From there, he explored different aspects of coding on his own so that he could further develop his skills. 

Having a common interest can also spark conversation and competition.

— Owen Li

Currently, Owen uses three languages in the world of coding: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. 

He uses these languages to accomplish all parts of making a game—HTML is used to start what he is building, CSS is used to style and format the page, and JavaScript is used to build the actual actions of a game. 

“Coding made me want to learn another language in code,” Owen said. “If you understand one language, it is easier to learn another.” 

Beyond what he already knows, two languages that he wants to learn and explore are C++ and C# (C Sharp). These languages will help him make more advanced, three dimensional games, and make coding a lot easier. 

“Both of those languages contain a large community,” Owen said, “and anyone that you ask is always willing to help out. Having a common interest can also spark conversation and competition.”

As coding advances, there are places to turn to in any direction which lead to help. Whether it be online or in-person—from answering questions to sharing knowledge to competing to make a better game—people interact, and they grow as they work together.

“I get to interact with other people that also code and see what they make,” Owen said. “It’s fun to talk to people like you because you share interests, and it engages [both of] us.” 

As Owen interacts with people, he grows as a coder. His coding and games alike improve, and he learns skills that he can use later in life. 

Even though he just started coding last year, Owen uses his new knowledge and interactions to help others in their journey to coding games. Specifically, he teaches kids the basics and tries to help them to see the joy and life skills that can come from it. 

“It feels good sometimes to teach younger kids,” Owen said. “Sometimes it’s hard, as well. They are just about to learn a difficult thing, and sometimes, they give up. It’s something everyone does. I feel good teaching them because they have an interesting mind and are very creative.”

As he teaches children to persevere through their own difficulties, Owen understands their struggles. He is still learning himself, and he was once a beginner as well. 

“The hardest part is probably learning new things,” Owen said. “Sometimes, what you currently [do] is good, but if you were to learn this new string or code, it would make life a lot easier.”