Growing up in upstate New York, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw a lot of snow in the winter. But every time he wanted to get his sisters to have a snowball fight with him, they’d shrug him off.
So instead, Zuckerberg created himself a snowball fighting computer game.
“So then, everybody was happy. It was a terrible game, but I got to play a game, and [my sisters] got to not get hit by snowballs,” Zuckerberg said during his town hall Q&A session on Thursday.
But those games gave Zuckerberg much more than just the instant gratification of having a virtual snowball fight: it got him into computer programming.
And it’s why Zuckerberg believes more kids need to be allowed to play video games if they want.
“I do think this dynamic around kids growing up, building games and playing games, is an important one because I think this is how a lot of kids get into programming,” Zuckerberg said. “I definitely wouldn’t have gotten into programming if I hadn’t played games.”
And that can go a long way to solving the gender and racial imbalance in tech, Zuckerberg added. One of the big reasons for those gaps is the relatively small supply of female, black, or Latin programmers, and Zuckerberg believes having them learn programming themselves, through self-interest channels like video games, could potentially solve the issue.
“It’s why questions on gaming is important. Most of the engineers I know, who are some of the best engineers in the world, are self-taught,” he said. “We need to work on this to get more exposure out to people.”