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An exclusive Interview with ScalaQuest Founder, Alejandro Lujan

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You've probably already heard about ScalaQuest, the great new game that makes learning Scala fun. We love the concept and want to encourage everyone using Scala to support this great idea so we sent our Marketing Manager, Billie, to speak to the man behind the game for learning Scala as we were eager to find out more about ScalaQuest and we asked Alejandro about his passion for Scala too. Read the full interview below and please support this brilliant initiative...

When did you get into Scala? 

I jumped into Scala in 2011, as the second hire of a tiny start-up. The only learning material was the Odersky book, and the developer community was only starting to hear about the language. We started by writing “java without semicolons” and slowly introduced more and more language features as we discovered them.

How was ScalaQuest born? How did you come up with the idea of turning learning Scala into a game?

There are two parts to this answer. First of all, the idea of learning through games has been in our minds for many years. Christian and I met in University around 2009 and we were already passionate about the idea of using virtual environments as learning platforms.. It became obvious that today's students find it more and more difficult to learn through traditional learning methods but at the same time, they have a lot of interest and motivation when it comes to investing time and effort in games. A good game, conversely, can capture the attention and focus of players for hours and days on end. It seemed obvious to us that we could leverage this to deliver valuable material, empowering the player to learn practical content.

When it came to Scala, we thought that this was an ideal platform to introduce this learning by play concept. Being Scala programmers/trainers ourselves, we noticed the challenges of a steep learning curve. Therefore, we figured a greater number of people would be interested in Scala if they could actually have fun learning it, hence the idea behind ScalaQuest.

What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Creating a new game like this one comes with its share of challenges and difficulties such as getting the start-up running, financing, marketing, etc. But the greatest challenge lies on the actual creation of the game as we want to ensure that each level is relevant, fun and accurate. To do this, we meet regularly in order to discuss and analyze every step of the project to ensure that no details are overlooked. It is a long but gratifying process as we witness the evolution of the game as we envisioned it.

Who is the game aimed at?

Eventually, we want this game to be played by anyone who has a desire to learn Scala no matter what their programming background is. However, during the initial launch, we will concentrate our efforts to target current experienced programmers who wish to add this beautiful language to their portfolio, whether they've heard of Scala or not. We'd also be particularly proud to introduce this game to those who have always wanted to learn Scala but haven't yet because of the intimidating nature of the learning curve involved.

How do we get the game?

ScalaQuest is a subscription-based game that runs on your browser. We’re planning to launch in early 2018. We encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our mailing list in order to receive the latest news (we promise low volume and relevant news) on our progress, launch date, subscription details and other interesting information.

Favourite thing about Scala is...

I love the power it gives me to write very succinct and elegant code, even though it means I have the responsibility of keeping it readable. Case classes are a great example of this, as well as Pattern Matching. Removing cruft and boilerplate allows me to focus on the bits of code that are truly relevant.

Worst thing about Scala is...

Long compilation times are a pain one learns to live with - a price I'm willing to pay for the benefits of a strong compiler that can guide me away from bugs and steer me in the right direction during hairy refactorings.

We'd like to say a big thank you to Alejandro for taking the time out to answer our questions and we wish ScalaQuest huge success for the future!