Learning to Code & Building a Guitar Hero Community

Learning to Code & Building a Guitar Hero Community

DevRel & Community

...here I am 15 years later building developer communities professionally. Apparently, I've always had a passion for bringing like-minded people together.


Back in 2007, I started to teach myself HTML & CSS by looking through source code and downloading free website templates and digging through them in FrontPage. Code Academy and all the awesome resources that exist today, did not exist back then. It was the wild, wild west of learning to code.

The first real project I wanted to build would require a bit more skills then those of a new front-end developer. I wanted to build a Guitar Hero tournament site where you could play in a tournament and test your skills any time you wanted. There would be a hierarchy chart and a leaderboard. In order to allow users to login to submit their verified scores, I needed to learn how to write & store data.

Remember Fantastico?

I dove into a few options through my web host. Do you remember Fantastico inside of cPanel? I started dabbling with the content management systems through cPanel and ended up landing on the first version of Joomla. I had no clue what I was doing but it already had the functionality for user accounts and storing data, so I was partially there.

I pulled together a basic community and website platform and began recruiting folks to play against. At first, it was manual entry for scoring and required a lot of time on my part to maintain. I started recruiting folks to help me run the community because it was growing quite quickly. I eventually met an individual who was a PHP developer and he began teaching me a thing or two.

Guitar Hero Superfan

We improved the site and had a mostly automated process where folks could meet, play, & compete against one another. I recruited players from various forums, including the official Activision Guitar Hero community. We grew from a handful of members to over 5k in a matter of months. We even got so successful that Activision made me an official forum moderator and hosted our tournaments in their community. I was obsessed with Guitar Hero—this was my dream volunteer job.

I was a Guitar Hero superfan and they were smart about how they leveraged my fandom.

Unfortunately, GH Jammers no longer exists, but it was a lot of fun and pretty great way to dive into my coding career. It's kind of funny too because the first real project I worked on was building a community, and here I am 15 years later building developer communities professionally. Apparently, bringing like-minded people together has always been a passion of mine. 💜

The Official Website of “The Jammers” Guitar Hero 3 Tour Group
Wayback Machine Version from 2007

Tessa Kriesel

Head of Platform Developer Relations at Snap, startup advisor, & a diversity in tech advocate. Wife & mom, motorcyclist, archer, disciple, & dog lover.


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