Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knit 1, Pwn 2: Learning Programming Via Knitting Games

Description: Illustration of a knitting work in progress of a heart
pattern using a knitting guide. Illustration courtesy Idea Studios.
Writing for's Waypoint section, Nicole Carpenter muses on how knitting has connected her with two things very important to her: her grandmother, and computer programming. It's not as unlikely a connection as one might think, As she explains:

Knitting is an exercise of binary code: knit or purl. One or zero. Knitting patterns—and patterns for other yarn crafts—can be considered some of the first programming languages. 
"Computers ultimately started off partially inspired by weaving and the Jacquard loom," electrical engineering professor Karen Shoop of Queen Mary University in London told Mind/Shift in 2013. "Arguably, some of the earliest programmers were the people making paper punch hole patterns for weaving patterns."
While yarn and its aesthetics have been a part of video games over the years, present in titles like Yoshi's Woolly World or the more recent Unraveled, Carpenter explores designer April Grow's work  on two games that center on yarncrafting as actual game mechanics: Pattern and Threadsteading.

Both games use craft in its literal sense—the act of making something—as well as as a storytelling theme, in a more abstract way. They bridge the perceived gap between technology and craft, a perception that Shoop discusses, too: "I loved the fact that there is a perception—usually wrong—that there's a world of computer (soulless, technical, 'geeky') and a completely different domain such as knitting (traditional, 'female', craft)—yet there is a clear overlap." 
Pattern is knitting as binary made literal, using crochet as the craft of choice. Like knitting, crochet uses patterns. Grow's game intends to teach players to decipher a pattern's programming-like expressions; she wanted to highlight the math, systems, and equations she saw in crochet—the ones and the zeroes.
The entire article is an interesting exploration of the way knitting as a mechanic bridges the gap between technology, craft, code and personal memories. Read the whole article here.

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