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Most Popular Programming Languages for Game Development

Esa Landicho - March 07, 2022


According to Statista, 15 to 19-year-olds spent an average of 112 minutes playing video games , per day, in 2019. While this is not surprising, it shows the significance of video gaming as an entertainment piece. If you want to become a game developer and create video games like PUBG: Battlegrounds, Crossfire, Minecraft, or Dungeon Fighter, you should know of the best programming languages for game development.

Seasoned professionals in the gaming industry working as game developers know just how much potential and career development there is. If you’re new to the industry, it’s important to know what programming languages game developers use on a daily basis. Discover the most popular programming languages for video game development in this comprehensive guide.

What Is Game Development?

Game development is the process of creating and programming every aspect of a video game. Video games are developed with the intention of being distributed to customers for entertainment purposes. Video game development is a complex process that requires skills outside of just programming, which includes knowledge of psychology, storytelling, and gameplay principles that will help developers create the perfect game.

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Part of game development is video game design. This process decides the content of the game, the graphics and style of the game, and the rules of the game. In addition, game developers utilize these programming languages to provide a user-friendly interface and experience.

What Are Programming Languages?

A programming language is a computer language that programmers and developers use in creating software, programs, and scripts that the computer will follow. Each language has unique features that correlate to different aspects of video game development. Dozens of languages exist, some of which are running in the background of your most commonly used operating systems, like your browser.

What Programming Languages Do Game Developers Use?

Two of the most commonly used programming languages are C++ and Java. They are used to make the game run seamlessly and ensure users have a smooth gaming experience. Through these programming languages, games gain greater memory management and become high-definition. There are several other popular programming languages that will be detailed in the sections below.

Best Programming Languages to Learn for Game Development

  • C++
  • Java
  • HTML5
  • Javascript
  • Python

Which Programming Language Is Best for Game Development?

C++

C++ is a popular programming language in the gaming industry that is used by over 24 percent of developers . It is used as an object oriented programming language that provides direct control across graphical processes and hardware. This language runs in popular game engines since developers can revamp high-level code and big consoles.

C++ is a popular choice among developers because it uses internal structures that make it easier to organize code into reusable blocks. This language has been used in Windows games and big consoles, as well as popular games like Starcraft, Counterstrike, Master of Orion III, and Football Pro.

Java

Another language of choice among game developers is Java because of its multipurpose and open-source material. It has been known for developing mobile and indie games, as well as being a beginner-friendly language for games. With Java, you are able to write multiple reusable system-agnostic codes.

In addition, with Java, it’s easy to compile, debug, and write code. This preferred choice among game creators is known for its continuous upgrades that contend with other newer technologies. Java is influenced by JavaScript, which is typically used for web-based and browser-based games. Some of the games made out of Java are Ferrari GT, Minecraft, and FIFA 11.

HTML5

HTML5 is one of the top languages for game development and is used by 56 percent of developers because of its ability to build cross-browser apps and games. This language can also be in replacement of Javascript. HTML5 is preferred for its ultimate game engine. Game frameworks such as ImpactJS, Phaser, Construct 2, Turbulence, and Booty5 have been responsible for the HTML5 game development process.

Another advantage of this flexible programming language is that games made with it can be accessed on smartphones, PCs, Smart TVs, and tablets. Some of the games made with HTML5 are The Kingdom of Loathing, Nothing to Hide, Gods Will Be Watching, Roll It, Cookie Clicker, and World Cup Penalty 2018.

JavaScript

JavaScript is a top choice when it comes to creating interactive online games. It merges web technologies such as CSS and HTML, allowing for cross-platform mobile games. This is mostly used alongside HTML5, since it can’t provide interactivity and animation. In addition, since JavaScript is an interpreted language, it decreases the time needed for other programming languages like Java for compilation.

Big companies like Google, Paypal, and Amazon use JavaScript, as it works perfectly with other programming languages. Developers use it in creating applications, and not just for mobile games. This high-level language was used to make Hangman, HexGI, Swoop, Polycraft, and Little Alchemy.

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Python

Python is not as popular for video game development as other programming languages, but it’s used because it is developer-friendly, allowing these professionals to prototype games swiftly. Python is one of the object oriented languages with simpler execution and syntax.

Moreover, Python has third-party built-in libraries that allow developers to do many things without using too much code. Python can speed up the development process of games because it is filled with readable code. Widely-known games made that were developed using Python are Eve Online, Frets on Fire, Battlefield 2, and Disney’s Toontown Online.

Which Programming Language Should I Learn First?

It is recommended that you learn C++ first, although you now know that you aren’t limited to a single language to develop a great game. This low-level language will teach you the foundations and basics of object oriented programming, while offering a high degree of flexibility that isn’t available in other common game programming languages.

C++ is recommended for optimizing performance, which is an essential factor in gameplay. The language has been used for decades and has allowed games to be created on platforms like Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, and Mac. With C++, it enables games to have high performance, which is key in game design.

Is it Possible to Choose the ‘Wrong’ Programming Language?

Yes, it is possible to choose the wrong programming language, especially if you want to focus on game development. For example, if you choose Python as your primary language, it lacks in speed, which means you have to make sure that you already have an idea of the type of game you want to develop.

How to Learn Game Development

If you want to be a game developer and join this lucrative industry, you must learn the best programming languages for game development as the first step. The gaming industry is booming and desirable, with the job outlook for game developers projected to grow 22 percent from 2020 to 2030. However, there are four basic steps you should follow that will help you thrive in the industry, as it is a difficult road.

Learn Computer Programming

The first step of learning game development is earning a degree in computer programming . It will equip you with the necessary programming skills to launch a game development career. If you aren’t ready to commit to a four-year college degree program, you can also enroll in a game development bootcamp or online course.

Choose a Known Game Engine

If you are a beginner, you need to start with a known game engine. Known games engines will provide you with functionalities like 2D graphics rendering, animation, collision, and animation. A popular game engine is Unity. It is easy to use and has a free version available.

Strengthen Your Skills

Strengthening your skills means enrolling yourself in courses or bootcamps. There are game development bootcamps that offer both convenience and flexibility. Attending bootcamps allows you to hone specific and necessary skills needed for the industry in a short amount of time. For example, bootcamps teach you 3D game graphics and game coding education.

Create a Basic Game

Now that you have the foundations of game development, it’s time to make a basic game to test your knowledge and skills. You don’t have to make a masterpiece or strive for perfection. The goal is to try and understand the basics. One of the easiest games to try and build is Tetris.

How to Learn Game Development: Top Resources

  • Online courses . Some websites offer courses, including sites like Coursera, edX, and Udemy. Some of the courses you’ll see there are Game Design and Development 1: 2D Shooter and 2D Game Development with libGDX.
  • Unity learn . This is an all-purpose game engine that game developer studios use. The platform provides learners with over 750 hours of on-demand and live learning resources.
  • gamedev.net . This website is dedicated to several news articles, tutorials, and forums. You’ll be able to share and collaborate on projects with others and receive advice and input from other professionals.
  • Brackeys YouTube tutorials . This YouTube channel is another great resource in learning game development, as it is focused on the video game creation process. The channel hosts tutorials directed at any skill level and offer informative insights.
  • Books . Books are also great ways for you to learn about game development. Try highly recommended books like Beginning C++ Through Game Programming by Michael Dawson and Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design by Scott Rogers.

Ready to Break into Tech?

There are so many ways to become a game developer , but it starts with learning the most popular programming languages for game development. Utilize the resources provided in this article, get a computer programming degree, and attend a bootcamp. Now that you know what the best programming languages to learn for game development are and have these resources, it is time to break into this promising career.

Best Programming Languages for Game Development FAQ

Is C++ good for game development?

Yes, C++ is a good programming language for game development because it has low-level language components that give freedom to developers to operate the hardware. It also gives assurance for a responsive gaming experience.

Is Python good for games?

Python can be good for games, but it’s not a top choice for game developers. This is because the programming language can run slow and take up more time than necessary in the creation process.

Best programming language for indie game development?

C# is a good choice for indie game development because it is a highly expressive and object oriented programming language. In addition, it is a cost-efficient software. On the downside, using C# for games might not give you access to assets that shun redundancies.

Best programming language for Android games?

C++ and C are the best programming languages for developing Android games because it helps lower the memory footprint. In addition, C++ is an object oriented language that can be used in numerous applications.

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Esa Landicho

About the author: Esa is a content writer who has extensive experience talking to students about their careers and life choices. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Guidance and Counseling.

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