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Mark Zuckerberg says video games can help kids become programmers

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Facebook CEO credits gaming with getting him into engineering

Mark Zuckerberg credits video games with getting him into programming, and he thinks they could help others kids, too. Last week, the Facebook CEO held a town hall Q&A at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California, where he fielded questions on Oculus Rift, moderating hate speech, and his birthday celebration. When asked about his favorite video game (Civilization), Zuckerberg described how being exposed to games at an early age encouraged him to experiment with technology.

"I made a lot of games for myself, and they were terrible," Zuckerberg said of his childhood experience with gaming. "But this was how I got into programming."

"I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn't played games as a kid."

"I hear a lot that parents are concerned about their kids playing games, and there are valid concerns and I think that there's an important debate to be had around that," he continued. "But I do think that if you're a parent and you don't let your children use technology, but also want them... to be open to [a career in programming], then I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is one of the best things you can do... I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn't played games as a kid."

Zuckerberg returned to the subject a few minutes later, when asked about Silicon Valley's diversity problem, saying gaming could help create future engineers from underrepresented demographics.

"We as a society need to get to a point where everyone has the same opportunity and the same ability to be playing with technology and experimenting with different things, because that's how you eventually get into engineering," he said. "You learn and you mess around with things and design some things. Most of the engineers I know, who are the best engineers, are self-taught, it's not because they took some classes."

You can watch the hour-long Q&A session here.