(Old) Scratch Interview!

Back in February 2018, a Scratch Team member did an interview with me; they wanted to learn about Scratchers' experiences, so they did this interview with a few different people who were active in the Scratch community. They published the post in September 2018; I thought I'd share my original writings in the response, since it's probably an interesting read if you haven't seen the post before, and there are a couple things they condensed for the sake of clarity. But this is my blog and I can unleash my evilly lengthy writings upon you if I want to!! :) (They actually did a really good job with the post, though, really. It was condensed but only juuust a little!)

(PS: Sorry for no art dump post! There will be one Eventuallyâ„¢. Meanwhile, Ralsei!)

Meet the Scratcher: _nix

What is your username/link to your profile?

The Scratch profile I use by far the most is _nix (underscore-"nix"). I also respond to comments on my other profile fIorrie (that's "Florrie", but with an I-"eye" instead of an L), but I never share projects or anything of the sort over there.

How old are you?

I'm 14 years old as I write this, but I'll be 15 in May.

How did you get started with the Scratch community?

I actually honestly don't remember! It was so long ago. I joined Scratch with my first account, liam48D, in February of 2013 - a little before the Scratch site and editor transitioned from 1.4 to 2.0. I'd used Scratch 1.4 for a while before I registered my account. (I think I saw the "share" button, and saw I needed an online Scratch account to share my projects, and that's when I asked if I could make an account. I was only nine!) I guess my mom introduced me to Scratch after she saw mres's classic TED talk.

It wasn't that much later that I started getting involved with the community. I started exploring the site right after I registered an account for it; projects like jonzo's The Robot Invasion were really fun and showed off the kind of cool things I might eventually be able to do with Scratch if I kept playing and learning with it.

The first important time I really participated in the community, though, was when I joined the (very old) collaboration PokeIndustries. We were working together on a Scratch Pokemon RPG; I contributed my ideas and helped make a couple small projects that showed of my ideas. This was important because it was the very first time I collaborated with anyone online - I used to go to an after-school program where other kids and I worked together to make crafts, and online collaboration was so different! But it was also really important because I made my first online friends as I worked with the other active users in the collab. The collaboration didn't really last all that long, but the friendships I made from it sure did.

Can you tell us about your first project?

So, actually, no. :) The very first projects I made were made in the Scratch 1.4 editor. If you've ever used it (and you probably haven't, it's so old!), you'll know that projects made with it were saved on your computer's hard drive, and only showed up on Scratch once you clicked the Share button. So my very first projects only exist on an ancient laptop I haven't owned for years! Yikes.

The first project I did share was Ball Game. It was really simple - you move your mouse around, and whenever you touch a ball that teleports around the screen, you get a point. I don't think there was even a time limit, so the score you got didn't really mean anything, besides how long you spent playing it! It was a collaboration of my sister and me; I think I was showing Scratch to my sister, and this is the project she helped me put together.

Describe one of your favorite projects.

I think my favorite Scratch project is epninja's System Format. It's an RPG-story game where you have to figure out why somebody's trying to take over the computer that the game runs and the characters live in. I really like it because all of its parts come together really nicely. It's a game, but unlike most other games on Scratch, it has a story (and it's a pretty interesting, emotional story, too!). And of course, the game itself is fun to play; it's challenging to pass obstacles, but very satisfying when you do. Oh, and of course, the art and animation, a combination of pixel art and digitally-drawn anime-style pictures, is really good!

How do you get ideas for your Scratch projects?

Sort of erratically! :) I don't actually do any brainstorming. Instead of me thinking "I want to make a Scratch project; what project will I make?", I usually think, "Wow, I could probably make this random thing that just popped into my head in Scratch!" A lot of my projects are inspired by things I see around the internet, though. Looking at projects by other people (both on Scratch and on other sites) gives me a lot of my ideas.

What's a memorable experience you've had in the Scratch community?

PokeIndustries basically introduced me to the Scratch discussion forums, and that's where most of my memorable experiences started. The place that felt like home the most to me was the Advanced Topics, /discuss/31/. The funny thing about the ATs is that everyone was sort of knit into a little community of Scratchers who were interested in relatively more complicated programming stuff. It was a pretty open community, too, and I felt welcome there. As I posted in different threads there, I started making friends; and these friendships were strengthened a lot when we worked on projects that were outside of Scratch. I remember Opensprites, Elemental, and my programming language; these were all collabs. The people who I made those with are still my closest friends!

Funnily enough, I first discovered the Advanced Topics when Paddle2See moved a topic I made in a different sub-forum to the ATs. (I don't remember what the topic was - it was from the old 1.4 forums - but it did fit better in the Advanced Topics.) So if he'd never moved my thread there, I wouldn't have found the ATs, and never met all those people who are now good friends with me!

How would you describe the Scratch community?

Hmm... It's hard for me to describe the whole Scratch community as one, because I haven't talked to everyone! But generally - helpful, friendly, welcoming. I see people helping out others on Scratch all the time - people who've commented on their profiles or projects, and who've commented in little studio-communities, and who've made a question topic on the discussion forums - and that's so nice! And the community is generally really friendly too - happy to help you with any programming questions, but also to collaborate together, and to make friends.

What does it mean to be a member of the Scratch community?

If you've ever talked to somebody on Scratch, I think you're already part of the community! Having the text "New Scratcher" on your profile doesn't make you any less or more part of the community. Or another way to think of it - if you're looking for ways to be part of the community, you already are part of it.

How is the Scratch community different from other communities in your life, like your school, other websites or social media apps, etc?

When I compare Scratch to, say, Twitter, I feel that generally people are quite a bit more positive here. There's less arguments, and when arguments that do happen, people are usually pretty friendly and respectful of each other. It's refreshing!

It's really easy to meet people on Scratch, too. On other sites, before I comment on things people have made or said, I tend to think, "Will this make me look silly? Is it weird of me to ask or comment this, or even to just say hi?" But on Scratch, I don't feel that at all, so it's easier to talk to people I don't even know. I think that's because people on Scratch are generally really friendly. And it means I get to say hello to a lot of people I wouldn't otherwise!

What have you learned about yourself through creating and participating on Scratch?

My answer to this is actually everything, in a way. I'm fourteen years old now, and I was around ten when I started really participating in the community. And I've grown and changed a lot on here. I've become a lot more respecting and understanding; I've gotten a lot of experience in working together with other people on things. I've made friends who, through more direct talking with them, have helped me learn tons about my self.

Have you learned anything on Scratch that you've been able to apply outside of Scratch?

Well, obviously all of my programming skills basically derive from Scratch. (Actually, a lot of what I've learned in other programming languages helps me code with Scratch, too.) Scratch acted as the place where I put a lot of my early digital art, which has definitely led to me becoming a lot better at drawing. The time I spent collaborating with people on Scratch projects has made me a lot better at working together on things outside of Scratch. And that sort of extends to my being who I am, too -- I think this welcoming, friendly community has helped raise those traits in me.

What project are you currently working on? What do you plan to work on next?

I'm not actually working on any Scratch projects right now. While I'm a pretty active member in the community, I don't use Scratch for programming all that much. :) I've been helping out with some very small bugfixes in the Scratch editor; I've also enjoyed watching progress on Scratch 3.0. Eventually, I want to play with writing Scratch 3.0 extensions using JavaScript, and then make some (probably quite small) Scratch projects with the extensions.

What advice would you give to a new Scratcher?

Well, make and share Scratch projects; but also, be part of the community! You can take it slow if you want, maybe starting by leaving small comments on projects you like, or introducing yourself in the New to Scratch subforum. Generally, being part of the community is a great way to make friends and learn things, and you'll have lots of fun and valuable experiences.