Freshman earns coding position

Ellie Pazol, Staff Writer

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Freshman Jack Klebba poses in the midst of lines of code. Klebba earned himself a job working for the company Ketchapp during a competition in which only 20 people would qualify for the openings. Photo by Isabel Vayser

The minutes on the clock sped by as freshman Jack Klebba’s hands flew across the keyboard while his eyes searched for an error amid slashes, dots and phrases. He believed a single mistake would mean losing his chance to work for one of the world’s top game developers. 

Klebba was 14 years old when he began working for Ketchapp, a company that has developed games for iOS and Android such as “2048,” “Pocket Pool” and “Finger Driver.” During the fall of last year, the head developer of animations at Ketchapp left the company. After struggling tofill the position, Ketchapp issued a challenge to coders worldwide.

Klebba said whoever could fulfill certain requirements in 50 lines of code in under three hours would earn a position as a game designer for the new game, “Bottle Flip.” Thousands of people entered the competition, according to Klebba. He, along with 19 others completed the tasks to become part-time game designers for the new app. 

Klebba said his age caused Ketchapp to question his maturity. The next youngest coder was 21 years old, even though the competition was open to people of any age.Klebba said the company was unsure if his age would affect his abilities. But, after coding certain projects for the company, Ketchapp formally offered him a position and allowed him to begin coding along with the other game designers on the new app.

“A big thing about coding is that age doesn’t really matter,” said Klebba. “It’s more about [knowledge] of the skill that you’re working on.”

He began coding at age 11 after a friend from his summer camp began talking to him about a computer language called JavaScript. 

“[Coding is] an expression of writing basically,” said Klebba. “You can use your mind to create almost anything whether that’s like randomizers, games [or] programs, [which are] things that help you from day to day. Everything on a computer is made with code.”

According to computer science teacher Steve Goodman, becoming fluent in a coding language is similar to learning a foreign language. 

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes with the computer, so you can make the same program in several different languages, just like you can say the same English sentence in several different languages,” Goodman said.

Over a two-month period of working for the company, Klebba wrote over 800 lines of code using a program called Eclipse and worked with other coders to improve his skills, he said. 

Goodman said coding requires a way of thinking that is both algorithmic and logical because it takes multiple tries to get a program to work.

“When you test your program, and it doesn’t work on the first try, or the second time, or the third time or the thirty-seventh time, you have to keep fine-tuning it,” Goodman said.

Klebba said while working on the game, he had to search through 50 lines of code to find an error that had resulted from a connection between some of the first lines he had written to the last. 

“A lot of people think [coding is] nerdy or strange, but I think it’s something that should definitely be more widespread,” Klebba said.

Klebba said the work he did,  along with other game designers, is available on the Apple App Store as well as Google Play in the game “Bottle Flip.”

“[Coding is] going to change the world,” said Klebba. “It’s going to [change] the world technology-wise and nature-wise.”

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