Why I Pursue Computer Science

Some say life is a journey. And I have to say, I’ve been privileged to work with very smart and ambitious people during my journey so far. I met these people at different places: UIUC, PayPal, Silicon Valley, LA, Chicago, etc. And they also came from different places: USA, Iran, China, Germany, etc. Everybody has a name, everybody has a story. But among the techies, we all have one important story: a fond memory of how we interacted with technology for the first time. And this, is my story…

Well, it all started when I was 12. I was playing an online game, called Ragnarok Online, which was a popular MMORPG (like RuneScape or World of Warcraft) in Indonesia. I just got in to Junior High school and quickly realized that I have less time to play online games since the high school I went to is really rigorous and time consuming.

Ragnarok Online Banner

Somehow I got an idea, what if a robot can play my character while I’m studying at school or doing my homework? (I always love the idea that one day robots will help humans in doing our daily tasks). So, I wander around websites after websites, and found that there was an open source robot program which is among the programmers / hackers known as “bots”.

It was a Perl based client side program that behaves like a game client, this is intended so that the program can fool the server which thinks that every request and data sent from the client side is originated from the player. A couple weeks later I figure out how to configure the program and was amazed by how incredible hundred lines of code can actually level up my characters. This was the first automation program I’ve ever configures.

What the bot program looks like while it’s running my character

I never knew that hacking has been a part of my life. I remembered, how long I configures the bot program to solve problems in the virtual worlds. If I see that my bot is not solving the problem, or doing actions inefficiently, I’ll immediately debug my codes. It made me constantly checking the stream of data on my pc monitor as soon as I get home.

My character in Ragnarok Online

It didn’t take me long to ask, “hey, if I could automate one character, why not 5, or 10, or 15!?” And 15 I did. I got 5 characters gathering items, 5 other characters processing the items, and 5 other characters selling the processed goods. I began to make money. Virtual money at first, but then I sold virtual goods using real money soon after that. Which is funny because I still don’t have a bank account when I was 14, I had to borrow my mom’s bank account. I still remember she asked me “Rizky what is this Rp. 200,000 coming into my bank account? Are you selling drugs?!?!”… I don’t even know what “drugs” are… I was just 14…

This isn’t the first time I unintentionally built a business, and I haven’t learned the term “Computer Science” as well. But I already knew that this is what I love to do: building things that could help people solve their problem and make a business out of it. Those days have passed, I realized that botting is actually illegal, and my account actually got banned till 2020 :p

Since then I turned my attention towards the field of science that I just discovered. I quickly search about programming languages, and learn Java on my own from textbooks, and of course, online videos. Then I told myself, soon I will come to Silicon Valley, and create a program that can solve everyone’s problem… so stay tuned!