Lost at SQL - The Game
Written by Nikos Vaggalis   
Sunday, 21 May 2023

Do you want to get conversant with SQL? "Lost at SQL" offers a gamified approach to learning the basics of SQL addressed to total beginners.

Built by Robin Lord who, as a digital marketing strategy and SEO expert, uses SQL not for CRUD applications but mostly for analytics and data exploration in scenarios like:

  • When tackling Large internal datasets, SQL can help you prepare and extract data either for simple investigations, or as an important step in Machine Learning i. e. Forecasting, Mixed Media Modelling, or preparing data for Large Language Models
  • Explore Google Analytics which can automatically be exported to BigQuery
  • Explore Site speed data
  • Explore the Raw Search Console; many Search Console analysis tools pull their data to BigQuery and Google is soon offering a bulk export as an option.

With an interface reminding of vintage computer games, your first step is to choose a picture from a set of available ones
and name your character.


After that you are ready to jump into the game. In typical noir narrative, the stories are told in the first person like we find on the very first chapter:

You awake to an ear-splitting screech.
You are Captain Nikos of the SS. QL and you are in big trouble.
All you remember before you lost consciousness is an explosion, and your path being blocked by falling debris.
Now you know that your submarine is sinking further and further into the icy black depths of the ocean.
Somewhere in the distance you can hear the sound of water falling on metal.
You can just reach one of the computer terminals - your only chance it to use it to free yourself and repair the ship.
First, you need to know what the damage is.
Start by getting all the issues from the table "malfunctions"

So in order to complete the quest you just have to issue the command:

select issues from malfunctions

inside the embedded SQL editor.

The next task, Chapter 2, requires you to:

Using the "malfunctions" table again - get the issues and fix columns

Pretty simple stuff.


Of course that might sound trivial for someone already familiar with SQL but not for one that watches SQL for the very first time. As such there's a "Learn" button in each chapter which goes behind the concepts. For instance the one of chapter 2 explains :

In SQL we get information by using 'Select', then listing the columns we want back, then writing the table we want to take those columns from.
We can list multiple columns by writing each, one after the other with a comma in between.
So you can select the issues and id columns from a table called table_name by using
   Select issues, id from table_name
If you wanted the id column first, you would write:
  Select id, issues from table_name

If that wasn't enough help to complete the task, you can still "Slide to get the answer" to reveal the SQL which you can then copy and pest on the editor to get over with. However that will reflect on your stats as a "Skip".

As the levels progress, the answers required become more "involved" the likes of:

Select * 
from crew
where role = 'first officer'


Select *
from pods_list where
status = 'functioning'
and range > 1500

And so on.

In the end, with a blend of gaming nostalgia, task orientation and explanations of the underlying theory this might be the perfect course to get your feet wet in SQL.


More Information

Lost At SQL

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SQLBolt - Learn SQL The Interactive Way


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Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 May 2023 )