Flight simulator for developer training

October 31, 2022

Author Matthew Revell

DevRelCon founder and CEO of Hoopy, the content agency for the developer economy.


Learning to code is one thing. But there’s so much more to life as a professional developer.

For example, how do you maintain all the moving parts that keep your code running in production? What about handling an urgent incident or refactoring code that’s already in use?

Wilco‘s answer is to help developers gain new skills by experiencing scenarios in a realistic environment. The team behind Wilco call it a “flight simulator for developers”. So, how does it work and could it be useful to DevRel?

Testing and questing

At the heart of Wilco is the quest catalogue. Each quest immerses the quester in a realistic scenario where they’re working for an imaginary company called Anythink. It combines elements of gaming with aspect of an actual, real-life job.

A selection of quests from Wilco's quest catalogue

As such, it’s easy to slip into the world of Anythink. For example, there’s a chat tool that looks remarkably like one you’ve used and it’s call Snack.

Wilco's Snack chat app

You’ll quickly find that your Anythink colleagues are keen to communicate with you using Snack. They’ll get in touch, just like real colleagues would, with requests and questions. In the tutorial, you’ll meet the Head of R&D, Ness, and the Head of DevOps, Navi, both of whom will guide you through a set of tasks.

The characters in the quests have been written to make them seem relatable and the Anythink company has similar quirks to those you might find in a real organisation. This way, it feels less like following a tutorial and more like learning the ropes at a real job.

Unlike a real job, though, you’re not getting paid. Instead, this is where the gaming side of things comes in.

Each time you complete a quest, you get XP and Wilcoins.

Wilco XP

And Wilco keeps track of the skills you’ve demonstrated along the way.

Wilco skills tracker

So, how is this relevant to DevRel?

Create your own quests

The team at Wilco are keen to expand their quest catalogue by collaborating with developer relations professionals who want to provide a novel way of learning their technologies. Here’s how Wilco co-founder On Freund put it:

“A quest on Wilco can give you a demo environment to show off your product to developers in a more realistic way. For developers already using a product, Wilco is a great way to provide ongoing training to help people level-up.”

For many companies offering products used by developers, the efficiency and effectiveness of their developer education have a direct impact on their viability. Interactive demo environments have been great at helping people get hands-on with an API or other technology but there’s more to being a developer than only the code.

There’s a big difference between following the steps of a carefully crafted tutorial and then using something for real. Perhaps creating quests in Wilco will offer DevRel teams a deeper way to reach and educate developers. If you’re interested, the Wilco team are keen to hear from you.



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