Our profession is a card game

Raquel M Carmena · 26 Jul 2018

How to play


In this game you must solve different problems. To do so, you need cards and choose the best ones to each problem.

Every player starts without cards.

Cards are achieved through activities.


Everyone decides the team in which to play.

In order to play good moves, choose positive, constructive and nice people who make things easier, because it will bring out the best of you.

Card types

There are two types of cards:

  • Hard cards
  • Catalytic cards

It's not possible to solve a problem with a single type of cards.

How to win

You get hard cards for:

  • each programming paradigm, practice, design pattern, architecture, language or tool you learn,
  • each time you face legacy code and you step forward to the good maintenance of it,
  • each time you think What if ...,
  • each conference you attend,
  • each book you read,
  • each article you read,
  • each time you don't believe in magic and you discover the reason why it works now.

You get catalytic cards when:

  • sharing your knowledge,
  • saying Thank you! to another colleague,
  • saying Sorry, it wasn't my intention to another colleague,
  • giving feedback,
  • receiving feeback,
  • getting a simple solution for a complex problem,
  • listening to an apprentice with respect.

The more cards you get, the more possibilities to play a good move and solve the problem.

You also get new cards with the learnings, successes and failures, from each move.

About hard cards:

  • Don't discard them if they are a bad choice in a move, because they may be very useful in another one.
  • Consider all the cards. Not only trending ones have a value.

There aren't wild cards. You must play with the cards, i.e. you must think. Don't forget common sense and pragmatism.

See also

In order to know more about the term catalytic, watch Emotional Intelligence for Engineers by April Wensel.


  • Pablo Albizu, Iker Mariñelarena, Mikel Ros and Gorka Moreno, organizers of the awesome Pamplona Software Crafters Conference, for trusting me to participate with my talk Be open-minded, my friend, where I gave away empty cards to take notes and I explained this idea.
  • Helder De Oliveira and Jordi Anguela for their signed cards after my talk. I'll keep them with me forever.
  • Gabriel Moral for his idea about trending cards.
  • My colleague Alejandro Scandroli for his beautiful feedback about this analogy. It encouraged me to write it here.
  • My colleague Richard Wild for his review and advice. He's always available to help.
Raquel M Carmena Image

Raquel M Carmena

Raquel discovered her profession when she was 12 years old, when playing with databases and DOS commands in the back office of a computer shop. She keeps as a treasure her notebook with a computer architecture and how data were stored in a diskette among other things.

She loves new challenges and finds it very difficult to choose a single favourite area in her profession. For the past 10 years Raquel has worked in different projects, with different technologies, and in different industries. She lives and breathes business and values from her software products, services and ideas.

Raquel is a constant apprentice who strives for common sense, pragmatism and simplicity, and also enjoys sharing her knowledge and learning from others.

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