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Techies competing in Portland to see who can build the best video game

Techies compete at the Art Institute of Portland.

Hundreds of techies in Portland will need an endless supply of caffeine this weekend. They will be working around the clock until Sunday night competing in a worldwide video game building competition at the Art Institute of Portland.

Global Game Jam is one of the largest video game creation competitions in the world. More than 75 different countries participate in the two-day event.

Will Lewis, the founder of the Portland Indie Game Squad, says the importance of coding is at an all-time high, and it's becoming a booming job sector in the Pacific Northwest.

"It's definitely growing and just getting bigger," Lewis said.

Coding, or programming, is the process of designing, writing, testing, troubleshooting and maintaining computer programs or video games.

Coding is not just for adults anymore. Our schools are recognizing its importance.

"I think it's because there is more access to technology," Lewis said. "You see a lot of kids growing up with iPads and phones and everything, and it's a new way to introduce digital literacy."

In February, Battle Ground Community Education will introduce a coding class for elementary school students. Many schools across the Willamette Valley are expanding their computer programs.

Lewis says it's creating an environment that will help the Pacific Northwest stay competitive in the ever-changing digital landscape.

"In the entertainment industry, with mobile apps, console gaming, computer programs," he said. "You never know what's going to come next."

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