Video game development has evolved from an unimpressive beginning in the 1990s with two-dimensional black-and-white displays to mind-blowing virtual- and augmented-reality games thanks, at least in part, to the advancement of computer programming languages. The Entertainment Software Association reports that almost 70 percent of American homes now own at least one device used to play video games.
This increase in technology and consumer interest has led to a boom throughout the video game industry. Big-name companies like Facebook, Google, Apple, and Netflix have begun competing for their share of the gaming market, and new indie studios are clamoring to claim their piece of the action. The field of video game development has become so lucrative Juniper Research reports gaming industry revenue is projected to increase to $260 billion by 2025, up over $100 billion from the $155 billion in revenue generated in 2020.
With gaming making such inroads in the U.S. and around the world, the demand for game programmer jobs is skyrocketing. For those looking to score a job in the video game industry, being well-versed in writing code is crucial to landing a high-paying career. However, not all programming languages are created equal when it comes to writing video game code. To help you focus on learning the languages that will turbocharge your career. The following is a breakdown of the most popular languages and a summary of the three top programming languages for games.
Most Common Programming Languages
There are several popular programming languages studios want to see candidates fluent in when recruiting for programming jobs. Each language has various factors used to determine which of those languages is best suited to a particular use. Here is a list of six commonly used video game programming languages:
Pronounced as “C Plus-Plus,” this is a general-purpose language used for developing game engines that aid in the development of two- and three-dimensional games, eliminating the need to create everything from scratch. The primary reason C++ is used is its close relationship to computer hardware systems and its ability to create code to control functions across multiple operating systems.
Java is another general-purpose programming language, but it is more versatile than C++ and runs some of the best-in-class mobile games, like Minecraft. Java is very beginner friendly because it is easier to write, run and debug than many other languages. Java’s multithreading feature makes it ideal for game development, and its socket programming feature makes it easy to create multiplayer games.
Pronounced as “C-Sharp,” C# is a more versatile language than C++. It is the default language for the Unity 3D engine that powers several successful games, such as Super Mario Run, Pokemon Go, and Temple Run. C# serves as a back-end language that can interact directly with servers and is used on platforms such as PlayStation and Xbox consoles.
Having one of the most easy-to-read and write syntaxes, Python emphasizes code readability and uses keywords written in English, so it is easy for beginners to remember, and it has its own game-development library called PyGame. However, while it is popular with scientists and researchers and is an excellent language for beginners to cut their teeth on, some programmers feel it needs to be more powerful for some gaming applications.
Why Some Languages are Better Than Others
Various programming languages have different features and functionalities, with some being better suited for game programming than others. Some languages are great for data science, whereas other languages are better for AI development. Here are some key considerations:
• Game development typically calls for detailed simulations and real-time rendering that are both dependent on the programming language’s performance.
• A programming language must be easy to use so it can be accessible to a broad range of developers.
• The more realistic a game is, the more memory it requires to operate smoothly.
• Developers often need to integrate libraries and tools from multiple programs, so the best languages will have strong inter-operational abilities.
• Games designed to operate on multiple platforms must be written in languages that can be cross-compiled.
• For programmers to create successful games, they must have the resources to make the games run efficiently and access to support with debugging and/or optimization.
Selecting the three top programming languages for games is not just a matter of calculating which languages perform the best in certain situations or when working on a particular class of game platforms. The selection must also consider what languages game studios require their new hires to be proficient in for various jobs in video gaming.
Three Top Programming Languages for Games
C++ is at the top of the list because it is an excellent general-purpose language that excels in game development, especially for game engines like Unreal Engine, CryEngine, and Gadot. C++ has built-in tools needed for the development of two- and three-dimensional game environments, and it is probably the language in highest demand by studios around the world for a variety of game programmer jobs. However, the biggest reason C++ makes the top spot is its ability to create games that can be played across various platforms.
While C# provides programmers with more flexibility than C++, it is not quite as powerful. Still, C++ has become the default language for what most all developers feel is the first or second most popular game engine in use, Unity 3D. In addition to powering many perennial favorites, Unity 3D is many programmer’s go-to choice for creating virtual reality games and is used for programming many of PlayStation’s consoles.
Choosing the best of anything is typically a very objective endeavor. The deciding factor in choosing the best video game programming languages is what studios expect job candidates to have proficiency in. One of the best ways for people looking for game programmer jobs to stay abreast of trends is by registering with a recruiter like DAM. DAM is the top video game industry recruiters in the U.S. and has access to many unpublished job listings. They also offer free interview prep and career counseling. Because all of their fees are paid by the studios, DAM never charges job candidates a fee for their services.