• One of the many visuals featured in the game app, Heart Heist

Coding with love

Just in time for Valentine’s Day comes Heart Heist, a game-app created by programming enthusiast Sander Schulhoff ’20. “The point of the game is to have fun, maybe test your reflexes a bit,” says Schulhoff, who describes his creation as “not romantic” and “somewhat non-violent.” (And they say romance is dead?)

The game, designed for ages 12 and up, begins when a character “spawns” into the first level of the course (there are multiple levels), traversing a serpentine landscape while fending off mythical heartless creatures, called Crags, with its heart gun. “You’re shooting them love,” says Schulhoff with a wry smile, mindful of the School’s Quaker heritage and its Peace testimony, in particular.

Schulhoff developed the game app over the summer after his mother told him about the Congressional App Challenge, an annual competition sponsored by the U.S. Congressional Internet Caucus and the nonprofit Internet Education Foundation. Although not a big gamer (“It’s a big waste”), the Friends junior says he “likes to code things” and taught himself how to make iOS apps by watching YouTube videos. He invited his friends and Advanced Computer Science classmates to play the app before submitting it to the Challenge, noting, “That was helpful -- and also annoying, because they caught some things that needed fixing.”

Although Heart Heists didn’t win the Congressional Challenge, Schulhoff says he’ll compete again next year and has since released the game for free on the App Store

“This is a pretty special thing that an extremely talented young programmer has done,” says David Heath, Upper School math and computer science teacher. “[Sander] has a gift for visualizing and coding graphics, and we in the math department are very proud of him."

Click here to watch a Heart Heist introductory video. And have a Happy Valentine's Day!

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