Turning a climbing wall into a video game

Img 1940 26dab123a1ee30554112d84e353c852e3e850d8cf22517fb6d0f629d2a9fb642
Img 1940 26dab123a1ee30554112d84e353c852e3e850d8cf22517fb6d0f629d2a9fb642
Img 1913 fe7001abedf5ea69d30b4d6733fb66620ffba0f47ee935dcfbd7fadf50c20a3e
Img 1915 b9eabf36a2a9b9a2157d04e97847e56fd20ed8e499cee066acb5c008c16f90f9
Img 1964 bc0441d976f25443cf407f9c272017b5edb78decb3dca1f0e4d5bb5643ecb788
Img 1897 24a3f88d65eaff618fcad3abd1dd85af13c1c32eb7ba25e3ebe61997693cbb55
Img 1899 49d1e5a9bc7b795a4655d6abb99e3b07e9ccf2bc99a07208684cb46d667f001b
Img 1905 b7fe1f33ee844dd8e3b236a305d5383da39465dc1898251012d46366b8e05df9
Img 1910 d1bedfd7e4d66e8d0e7dfef6489ec03ff5523d92f2bcc7085eeeed22979d351e
Img 1922 f74c3042ae6dbb1cbfc10c78b63287db6e8d48b637444b0bfded6569318183a4
Img 1928 efb3faf98cd7d2e8c7cfc593d889b0e44c3c9d0b4b22df09880c9103493ff0a1
Img 1938 896adc6370196e47f785a463bcd63690e210c51288f068a8213ad4a711a7c879
Img 1948 45af4a02e8e88df7d2a32b3af1e2701e17952e67ff6aa67449440bc982661fb9
Img 1964 bc0441d976f25443cf407f9c272017b5edb78decb3dca1f0e4d5bb5643ecb788
Img 1970 8f15629e72ee2d07ebe0465e7189c946e8cb9fad2657ffaae47722fadd23d69a
Img 1971 c6c5f16e059306b475e3540f415524dc023545675c7a7ab651c71f4c2a17603e
Img 2006 0b7395fc8708cf736c7a64034256721fdeed30d49d9153ef674e401df3b7713b
Img 2016 683f79efeb744bb24c53ddaf407873a10a645112f9f0be379a06cc6e3eb58718
Img 2062 6ab26a96b701706c404bccb95b1a5f7863a4fb8c2a6b4d4a4224b7fe922766db
Img 2082 91afa87acc6ef4f01e652282a8d82803c40bbf258760b1d30c6f4ae7c6637e99

Edit: A number of people have contacted me about running this game at their gyms. If you're interested in bringing this game to your gym, tell us what gym you frequent here and we'll get in touch with their staff to see if they're interested.


A lot of people ask me why coding is applicable to their lives if they don't do it for their jobs. This question stems from a commonly held belief that learning to code is only meant for people looking to join tech startups or code for a living. That coding is purely a professional endeavor. In fact, coding doesn't have to be for work at all. Having fun enhancing your hobbies is one of the easiest and best ways to get started.

I set out to demonstrate this at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville last week. I'm a hobbyist rock climber. I'm not particularly good, but it's a fun sport and I knew I could do something fun by applying technology in the gym. My first thought was, what if I could take an entire bouldering wall and turn it into an interactive video game? That's the question I asked myself leading up to last week's Brooklyn Boulders Community night. This was the result.

When I began this project, I started out with a few criteria. I wanted to create a game that made people think about climbing and wall usage in new ways. To make it more accessible, I needed to make sure that the movements players would use were varied enough that climbers of all sizes and skill levels could play. I also needed to be able to mold the game mechanics to the holds that were already on the wall. Last, I wanted an arcade style high score board so that the people who wanted to compete could try to battle for the top score.

The result was a timed race. Players could use any holds they wanted with the goal of touching the white dots in order as fast as possible. Instead of a specific route that players were required to use, they could explore whichever holds work best for their body type. The fastest time would be the victor.

The response from the community was amazing! The gym liked it so much, they asked if I could run the game for other events they had planned. The code itself wasn't particularly pretty, but it doesn't have to be. It's a game to make my hobby a little more fun, and a first step in my own exploration of coding as more than building websites and mobile apps. I encourage you to get creative and think about learning to code as a means to improve the things you already enjoy. That's what coding is for me. It's up to you to decide what coding is to you.

I'll see you on my next project!
Jon