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16-year-old St. George girl designs free gaming app

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ST. GEORGE — Like many 16-year-olds, Kelsea Barker balances a full schedule between her job, school and basketball pursuits. When her free gaming app, Hue!, became available for download in iTunes’ App Store in October, Barker checked "launch an app" off her to-do list.

Hue! is a game in which players must stay alive for at least 30 seconds to earn a color. The time requirement increases with each round until players receive all seven colors, according to the game’s website.

A self-taught coder, Barker created Hue! using the coding platform GameSalad, according to a news release. Barker said the software had code ready for her to use and that she just had to logically arrange the pieces to transform her ideas into digital reality.

Barker has been interested in technology for as long as she can remember, she said.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I always was really fascinated with computers,” she said. “I think that’s what got me into wanting to eventually make an app or just code in the future.”

Barker, who was 15 at the time she created the app, had initially hoped to create it in about a month’s time. Instead, Barker said, it took her summer vacation and more.

Learning patience was a principal lesson for her throughout the troubleshooting process, she said.

“You can fix a problem, and since you fixed that problem, that will in turn make another problem come up, and when you fix that problem, that’ll make another problem come up,” Barker said.

After she created the app, Barker said, trying to advertise for Hue! helped her gain valuable marketing experience.

“In order to promote my app, I had to contact a lot of people,” she said. “I was always afraid to talk on the phone with people, but now I’m not because I had to call so many people.”

Along with a desire to code, Barker has always had the dream of being an entrepreneur, she said.

“I really like to have the freedom of just working on my own,” Barker said. “I would rather structure around my life instead of structure my life around my work.”

She’s now learning other aspects of business, such as freelance blogging, affiliate marketing and online entrepreneurship, she said.

“I definitely want to make more apps in the future,” Barker said. “But as of now, I really want to try to get experience in other areas of business.”

Once she has enough capital, she said, she hopes to create commercial products.

Barker’s experience has opened her eyes to the possibilities available to her while she’s still in high school, she said. She encourages other students to seek out opportunities that interest them rather than settling for jobs they may not want to stay in. Barker said her advice is to “find different passions” and figure out “what you can do with your own skills.”

Email: aramirez@deseretnews.com