Roger Wernersson: The Journey from Computer Games to Extreme Programming

Roger Wernersson Interview

Roger Wernersson’s passion for programming started over 30 years ago. Over the years, he has worked in many industries, helped many people to begin their programming journeys, and has supported Agile and extreme programming movements. Recently, he has joined the Sigma Technology team in Karlskrona as a Software Solution Consultant. We had a chance to talk with Roger and learn his story.

Roger, when did you get interested in programming?

It started when I was 13 with my initial interest in computer games. Back in 1981, there were few computer games available, so if you wanted to play, you, basically, had to program a game. I found programming quite rewarding, so I decided that it was something I would like to do for a living in the future.

As a start, I created an eight-year plan on how I could become a professional programmer. My first job in the field, however, happened earlier along the way, when I started teaching programming in high school, at the age of 14.

What kept you motivated during all that time?

What I think was important during those years was having a mentor so early on. There are so many roads you can choose. Having a guide who has been there before, helps you select wisely. Later, I tried to pay it forward by being a mentor to other students interested in programming.

If you recommended today’s student to become a software developer, what arguments would you choose?

First, I would say that programming is a very creative and social job. You have the freedom to work anywhere in the world, using the same tools, rules, and languages no matter where you are located. And it is probably easier than you think. During my time as a mentor, I have helped many people who had radically changed their careers for programming.

As a tip to a student, I also believe that applying for larger companies pays off. They are more diverse. Sigma is a great example. Diversity improves creativity.

And how did your career start?

I have spent about a decade in the telecom industry, and before that, I have spent another decade in the e-gaming (which I enjoyed a lot). When I look back at my experience, the most unusual role was teaching AI at London Guildhall College. They had a very diverse and interesting environment.

You have recently talked at Swetugg conference in Stockholm. Are you a frequent speaker?

Public speaking hasn’t been something I looked for. It came from my urge to share new practices and knowledge with the community. At Swetugg, I talked about brain hacks for software developers (I am planning to have these talks at Sigma offices in Stockholm and Gothenburg soon). I am also constantly promoting extreme programming and the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, trying to persuade people to write programs in a better way. If you are in Karlskrona, we can meet at Geek Beer.

And what are you working with at Sigma Technology?

My current assignment implies System Integration for a company developing automated warehouse solutions. Automation and robotics are something I wanted to work with for a long time, so it is great fun.

The Sigma team is extremely helpful and very welcoming as well. It feels a bit like coming home. I have the freedom to do what I think is right, and I interact with lots of people all the time. People are eager to learn and have an open mind for new solutions, and we make better solutions together.

When you look back at the 1980-s and programming today, what changes do you see?

A lot of things have changed since 1981. Some are for better, some are for worse. The internet has revolutionized our lives, and the whole open-source movement has been a great achievement. When it comes to programming as a profession, extreme programming, DevOps, and Agile movements help a lot.

One change that was for the worse though, is game development. Back when I started, I had to learn programming to code games, because there were not so many available. Now, however, when I look at my kids, they have too many games to choose from.

What will we see in the future? It is a big question. AI and automation will advance. We will be able to do more fun things and automate all of the boring things.