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Behind every video game is the code that is running it. Programming languages are integral to software development and are responsible for how we experience and interact with gaming platforms. Well-written code can provide a smooth, seamless gaming experience.

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Will Wright Teaches Game Design and TheoryWill Wright Teaches Game Design and Theory

Collaboration, prototyping, playtesting. The Sims creator Will Wright breaks down his process for designing games that unleash player creativity.

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What Is a Video Game Programming Language?

A video game programming language, or scripting language, is the code that game programmers use to produce the game’s settings and mechanics. Different languages contain different syntax and are more efficient at performing certain tasks, but many programming languages overlap and are compatible with one another, each contributing to the overall experience of the game.

7 Video Game Programming Languages

The way that you code your game depends on many factors—if it is for console or computer games, how much memory is needed, and the level of interactivity the game requires. Here’s an overview of the various programming languages available:

  1. C++: Released in 1985, C++ is one of the best programming languages available. C++ is a highly optimized code that allows for greater memory management, a necessary attribute of high-poly, and high-definition video games. C++ programming allows for stylized gameplay, and is a popular language for triple-A (AAA) titles, as well as indie games. C++ language runs with most game engines, making it one of the most common selections for game programmers.
  2. C#: Pronounced “C sharp,” this popular programming language was released by Microsoft in 2000. C# is a relatively easy programming language to learn, and is often used by smaller game studios. C# is another one of the main codes seen in popular game engines.
  3. Lua: Lua is a simpler, multi-platform language, but highly compatible with more complex languages. It is considered lightweight and easy to learn, and is useful for different types of gaming, as well as web applications and image processing.
  4. Java: Inspired by C++, Java game programming is nearly universally compatible, making it incredibly versatile, and one of the most popular languages used today. One reason for Java’s popularity amongst programmers is that its model can be consistently upgraded, which allows it to compete against newer technologies. Java influenced JavaScript, which is the most widely used scripting language for web-based and browser gaming. Java is often paired with HTML5 for enhanced interactivity.
  5. Python: Like C++ and Java, Python offers object-oriented programming (OOP), but with simpler syntax and execution. Python allows you to build prototypes faster, which can help make the game development process smoother.
  6. Objective-C: This programming language is often used to code games for smartphone operating systems like Android or iOS. It is not heavy duty like the more modernized languages used in advanced game engines, but Objective-C gives mobile game developers enough room to make small but comprehensive games.
  7. ActionScript: Inspired by JavaScript, ActionScript is the popular game language behind many early flash-based games for older model smartphones. It is an event-based game language, which means its responses are triggered by user action or messages from another system. ActionScript allows for quick development and auto garbage collection, or a way to reclaim memory.
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