Rajesh Moorjani started Programmr as a free online community and educational resource to push back against the “corporate chains” that charge hundreds of dollars and dominate engineering education in his native India.
“We went about starting Programmr to make learning programming fun and make students stand out with their skills,” he says. “Once you have an entertaining goal while learning to program, then it becomes really so much fun, easy, and like a meditation.”
Programmr supports a wide range of exercises that let you code live in the browser in various languages. Last year they introduced a “make-your-own-games” platform, featuring a gallery of more than 200 animation objects called “sprites” that users can combine to build simple, arcade-style games in the language called Processing in under an hour.
Programmr’s user base is mainly young men, 18-25, hailing from the U.S. (32%), India (28%), Europe (25%), South America, and the Philippines. They quickly took the games platform in a political direction, building games featuring Julian Assange, former French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s bribery charges, and anti-corruption Indian activist Anna Hazare. But most of all, they took on the NSA with games like Saving Snowden, Snowden the Pacman, and Yes We Scan, featuring anti-NSA memes. All the games are easily embeddable around the web.
Programmr isn’t taking a stance on any of these issues; they just want to promote code as a means of creative expression. “The Internet has given users a voice,” says Moorjani, “and now that we’ve made it easy, people can begin to use their coding skills to give a voice to their favorite causes.”