What Programming Language is Used for Games

Do you remember those days when the best programming language for game development was JavaScript? So many iconic games were made with the use of it: Snake game, Tetris, Pacman, etc. Then the game development world started to grow so fast. Before anyone knew it, C++ and C# became the leading programming languages.

Obviously, it was for the better: players greedily wanted more and more, and game companies tried to meet their audiences’ needs. Also, many professionals, including designers, artists, musicians, and programmers, found their calling and changed the gaming world forever.

Nowadays, we can’t imagine game development without programming languages. Due to them, the implementation of game logic, physics, graphics, and other essential functionalities is possible. We can even combine different types of programming for games and use them in different stages of game development, depending on the specific requirements and platforms. In today’s article, we will define the best language for 2D and 3D game development and finally answer the main question: “What programming language can help to make an outstanding game?”

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Low-Level Programming Languages

Some performance-critical tasks require direct control over hardware resources. This is the moment where the answer to the question: “What is the best programming language for game development?” is obvious: C, C++, and Assembly. 

Let’s begin with C. This is a procedural programming language that provides a good balance between high-level abstraction and low-level control over hardware. A lot of specialists prefer this language for system-level programming. In game development specifically, C is necessary for the core components of game engines. Among them are graphics rendering engines and physics simulations. Also, game companies often struggle with resource-intensive tasks. C programming language easily deals with this problem, allowing developers to have fine-grained control over memory.

If you want to use C programming language with some additional features such as object-oriented programming, C++ is the best decision for you. Nowadays, C++ is extensively used for developing entire game engines or specific modules within engines. Even Unreal Engine uses C++ for its core components. You may ask: “Why C++ may be the best programming language for game development?”. And we answer you: because of its performance, flexibility, and support for object-oriented programming paradigms.

Last but not least is an Assembly language which is also a low-level programming language. It corresponds closely to the architecture of a computer’s CPU. Assembly provides direct control over hardware resources but is less portable and more difficult to write. This is the reason why it isn’t so popular. But there still are scenarios where developers use Assembly language for optimization. This is often the case in graphics programming, where efficient use of SIMD instructions significantly enhances performance.

So, C and C++ are foundational languages in game development, while Assembly language is less used for entire game projects. In general, all these programming languages are useful for developing core engine components, graphics programming, cross-platform development, and performance-critical tasks.

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High-Level Programming Languages

When people ask “What programming language is used for video games the most?”, everyone says C#. It is not a surprise that C# is the most popular programming language in game development nowadays. It is widely used because of its productivity, ease of use, and the ability to handle complex tasks very fast. 

Developed by Microsoft, C# is a modern programming language, known for its simplicity, type safety, and integration with the .NET framework. C# is extensively used in game development, especially with the Unity game engine. While Unreal Engine mostly uses C++, C# is Unity engine’s primary scripting language. Due to this integration, developers can write game logic and create behaviors. 

A lot of people wonder why is C++ used for games a lot. As Unity is very popular for 2D and 3D video game creation, especially for iOS game development, C# is used a lot for developing character behavior, game events, and user interactions. This programming language provides a high-level and expressive syntax, making it well-suited for iterating rapidly, testing ideas, and refining gameplay mechanics.

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Specialized Game Development Languages

We want to tell you about several specialized languages that were designed for specific game development tasks. For instance, due to them, developers can create interactive and dynamic game environments.

And first on our list is Lua. It is a lightweight, embeddable scripting language designed for efficiency and ease of integration. It is commonly used in game development for scripting game logic and AI. Also, Lua allows game developers to write scripts that control various aspects of the game, such as character behavior, game events, and dialogue systems. 

A next good example in programming for games is GameMaker Language (GML). It is a scripting language specifically designed for use with the GameMaker Studio game development environment. It is used a lot for iOS and Android game development services due to its simplicity and ease of use. Also, GML allows quick prototyping and implementation of game mechanics without dealing with lower-level details.

We can’t forget about UnrealScript. It was a programming language used in earlier versions of the Unreal Engine, specifically Unreal Engine 3. However, C++ and Blueprints removed him from the championship in later versions of the engine. It was used for implementing game logic, creating custom classes, and defining behaviors for objects within the game world. While UnrealScript itself is no longer in active use, its legacy influenced the development of Unreal Engine’s current scripting capabilities.

HTML5 Markup Language

It may be quite unusual to talk about HTML5 as one of the best programming languages for game development because it is primarily associated with web development. However, it has also found applications in game development through the use of technologies such as the HTML5 canvas element and associated APIs.

The canvas element introduced in HTML5 provides a drawing surface that is often used for rendering graphics. As a result, game developers utilize this programming language to draw and manipulate graphics on the canvas, allowing for the creation of interactive games directly within a web browser. 

With its canvas element and JavaScript, HTML5 can be a perfect idea for developing 2D games. Game developers can draw sprites, handle user input, and implement game logic directly in the browser without relying on plugins or external frameworks.

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Emerging Languages and Their Impact

Emerging programming languages are consistently improved by a lot of professionals. But 2 leaders undoubtedly changed this sphere forever: Objective-C and Swift. In the history of game development, Objective-C has played a significant role, especially for iOS. In return Swift, its successor, has been gaining traction. 

Objective-C has been historically used for iOS game development. Many early iOS games were built using Objective-C. So, it played a crucial role in the development of mobile gaming on Apple devices. Also, this programming language has been used in combination with OpenGL ES for graphics programming in iOS games. 

Swift, introduced by Apple as the successor to Objective-C, has become the primary language for iOS and macOS development. Its modern syntax, safety features, and performance improvements have made it an attractive choice for building games on Apple platforms.

Swift is very popular due to its compatibility with popular game development frameworks and engines. Game developers can use Swift with engines like Unity or SpriteKit, Apple’s framework for 2D game development, to create interesting and unforgettable projects. What’s even better, Swift Playgrounds provides an interactive environment for quickly testing and prototyping game logic. This feature is beneficial for game developers looking to experiment with ideas or iterate rapidly during the design phase.

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Cross-Platform Development Languages

Understanding what is the best programming language for game development is pretty easy. But what about cross-platform development languages and frameworks? C# and TypeScript are two languages that are mostly used in this field. Their main goal is to create applications and games that will run on multiple platforms with minimal modification. 

Let’s start with C#. As we mentioned before, it provides a balance of performance and ease of use, making it well-suited for creating cross-platform games. This is the reason why C# became Unity’s primary scripting language. It is easy to explain: the engine supports cross-platform development, allowing game companies to build games for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and more. 

With C# in Unity, developers can maintain a shared codebase for their games across different platforms. It is very useful because while platform-specific considerations may be necessary, much of the game logic and mechanics can be reused, streamlining the development process. Also, C# provides good performance and optimization level which is extremely necessary for the developers.

TypeScript is another leader among programming languages for cross-platform game development. It is a superset of JavaScript that introduces static typing and other features. While often associated with web development, TypeScript’s ability to transpile to JavaScript makes it very suitable for cross-platform development, especially if we’re talking about web-based games.

This programming language is commonly used in conjunction with HTML5 and WebGL for developing web-based games. It provides developers with the benefits of static typing, making code more maintainable and reducing errors, while still allowing the flexibility and reach of JavaScript. Also, TypeScript has tools for code navigation, refactoring, and error checking, contributing to a smoother development experience.

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What Programming Language is Used in the Casino Games?

To make casino game art fantastic and outstanding, developers should use excellent programming languages. They should create bright backgrounds, symbols, and animations, implement well-designed user interfaces, and provide unforgettable casino game art. Whether it’s a classic casino theme, ancient civilizations, or fantasy worlds, the art design should perfectly showcase the topic and enhance the overall aesthetic. 

The best programming language for casino game development is definitely C++. It is a widely used language in casino game development, especially for building the core logic of games and handling performance-critical tasks. Also, it provides low-level control over hardware resources, making it suitable for resource-intensive applications.

Another good choice is C# or .NET. They are frequently used in casino game development, particularly when creating games for Windows platforms. The .NET framework, with its extensive libraries and tools, provides a convenient environment for developing casino games with a focus on functionality and performance.

For web-based casino games or those designed for online platforms, JavaScript and TypeScript are very good programming languages. They facilitate the creation of interactive games that can be played directly in web browsers.

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Choosing the Right Language for Game Development

Many of you may still ask yourself: what programming language is used for the best video games? And here is our final answer: everything is based on your needs.

Does your game demand high performance? Languages like C++ or C# may be preferred due to their low-level control and optimization capabilities.

Is your game cross-platform? Some languages are better suited for specific platforms, e.g., C# for Unity on Windows and iOS, or JavaScript/TypeScript for web-based games.

Do you work on 2D or 3D games? High-performance 3D games may benefit from C++ (Unreal Engine), while 2D games might be well-suited for languages like C# (Unity) or JavaScript (Phaser.js).

And a little bit more useful information: 

  • Working on high-performance 3D games, AAA titles, game engines (e.g., Unreal Engine), and resource-intensive simulations? Use C++.
  • Working on 2D and 3D games, especially with Unity; mobile games, and cross-platform development? Use C#.
  • Do you need cross-platform development and developing mobile games (Android)? Use Java.
  • Working on web-based games, 2D games, casual games, and projects leveraging HTML5 and WebGL? Use JavaScript/TypeScript.
  • Working on iOS game development? Use Swift.

That’s all! Sounds easy, right? But remember that the right language for game development depends on a combination of factors, including performance requirements, platform compatibility, development team expertise, game complexity, and the specific features of the game.

FAQ

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What is the best programming language for game development?

There isn’t a single “best” programming language for game development; the choice depends on various factors, including the type of game, target platforms, developer preferences, and project requirements. But C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, TypeScript, and Swift are the best.

Can I use multiple languages in a single game?

Yes, it’s possible. It’s quite common to use multiple programming languages in a single game. This practice is called “multilingual” or “polyglot” development. Different parts of a game may have distinct requirements, and using multiple languages allows developers to leverage the strengths of each language for specific tasks. The key is to carefully plan how these languages will interact and ensure smooth communication between different parts of the code.

How do I stay updated with new languages in game development?

Staying updated with new languages and developments in game development is crucial for keeping your skills relevant and ensuring that you can leverage the latest tools and technologies. You can join online communities and forums dedicated to game development (such as Reddit (e.g., r/gamedev) or Stack Overflow). And of course, you can follow individual blogs of game developers and websites that regularly publish articles and updates about game development languages.