Gaming is one of the top industries right now with some individual titles raking in billions. Technology has broadly improved what games are capable of, along with their accessibility. The world has reached the point where imaginations are no longer restricted by what a processor can handle. Dream it, and you can make it. You still require the right tools to be able to do so, and there are over hundreds of game programming languages out there to help. Here we have collected some of the best to be able to do so.
Obviously, there is no such thing as the best, as each project needs the right tool. But, the languages listed here are among the widely used, so there is plenty of support available for them. If you are looking to get into game programming but unsure of where to begin then this list will help narrow down the options. Then it becomes a topic of thinking about what type of game you want to develop and select the best tool for the job. Let’s take a look.
It should not come as surprising seeing C++ as the best programming language for games in almost every guide you read. The pioneer of modern game programming languages, C++ adds the concept of Object-Oriented programming onto its predecessor C. The ability to control very low-level system components has contributed a very fast running time for C++ programs, a much-needed element for game programming. Most high-end games that you play nowadays depends on C++ codes in one way or the other. Popular gaming consoles such as the Xbox and PlayStation both utilize this game programming language heavily. C++ is the must-know language if you anticipate yourself developing futuristic games.
Some of the games made with C++ are mentioned below:
- Doom III Engine
- King Quest
- World of Warcraft
- Warcraft III
- Football Pro
- Master of Orion III
Java takes a prominent role in the industry and is one of the best programming languages for games, and for good reasons. It uses the same OOP principle utilized by C++ but offers a broader range of systems to play for. Java codes typically run on the Java Virtual Machine(JVM) and translate into generic bytecodes, that can be executed on any system.
So, Java is one of those few game programming languages that gives developers the ability to develop games for any provided system. It’s also one of the primary language used for developing Android games, thanks to an increasing number of open-source third-party modules like LWJGL.
Some of the games made with Java are mentioned below :
- Tom Clancy’s Politika
- Powder Game
- Star Wars Galaxies
HTML games are also increasing exponentially every day as developers don’t require complex theoretical knowledge of advanced data structure and algorithms. As things going pretty smoothly for HTML5, we can easily anticipate it to become one of the top programming languages for games soon.
Some of the games made with HTML 5 are mentioned below:
- Kingdom of Loathing
- Nothing to Hide
- Gods will be watching
- Roll It
- Cookie Clicker
- Angry Birds
- Cookie Clicker
- Elevator Saga
- Game of Bombs
- Vector Runner Remix
C# is another powerful language with a wide variety of applications. It is somewhat easier to pick up then C++ so it could be a better one to learn first.
Several factors make C# a great choice for creating games. The first is its XNA framework, from Microsoft, which makes it perfect for making games for Windows or Xbox. The second is that is integral to game engines such as the famous Unity3D and Xamarin. C# can be used to make games on virtually any platform, such as iOS, Android, PlayStation, and Windows-related software as mentioned before.
MonoGame can be used to distribute software over many platforms, and this works well with C#. This is one language that opens doors and allows nearly any gamer to enjoy your creation no matter what hardware they use.
Some of the games made with C# are mentioned below:
- Beat Saber
- Assassin’s Creed: Identity
- Pokemon Go
- Getting Over It
- Deus Ex: The Fall
- The Wizard
- Little Alchemy
- New Super Resident Raver
Lua is a lightweight and multi-platform scripting language, continuing to gain momentum in the game industry. It has risen as one of the best programming languages for games because of its simple language structure and syntax.
A large number of modern game engines utilize Lua as their primary game design programming language, which includes but not limited to CryEngine, Corona SDK, and Gideros Mobile. If you are a hard gamer like me, chances are you have already played games built on CryEngine. It’s the engine used by the famous German company Crytek and has produced games like Farcry and Enemy Front.
Some of the games made with Lua are mentioned below:
- Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
- Doctor Who: The Adventure Games
- Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords
- Escape from Monkey Island
- Star Wars: Battlefront
- Command: Modern Air Naval Operations
- Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup
- Brave: The Search for Spirit Dancer
- Evil Islands: Curse of the Lost Soul
- Golden Axe: Beast Rider
7. Objective C
This is the best programming language for games on the iOS platform. Objective C blends the syntax of Smalltalk and C together and offers convenient solutions for building iOS games. It also comes with the ability to program in an Object-Oriented approach, much required for faster rendering time.
It powers game engines like Core3D, Cocos2D and enables C developers to develop their games in an OOP style. Although not suitable for the most futuristic games, Objective C is a pretty viable choice if you want to get your hands dirty with an easy-to-grasp game design programming language.
Some of the games made with Objective C are mentioned below:
- Star Trek: Rivals
- Jewel Smash
One of the newest game programming languages, Papyrus was developed by Bethesda Studios for use with their Creation Engine. It powers games like The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim and Fallout 4. Papyrus is a scripting system that utilizes advanced programming techniques such as functions, objects, events, and variables.
A papyrus script usually revolves around events and calls pre-specified functions whenever a particular event is triggered. If you want to utilize the mighty Creation Engine for developing your next game, Papyrus could be one of the best choices for you.
Some of the games made with Papyrus are mentioned below:
- Indianapolis 500: The Simulation
- IndyCar Racing
- NASCAR Racing
- Links: The Challenge of Golf
- Road Rash
- SODA Off-Road Racing
- Grand Prix Legends
Short for C for Graphics, Cg is a high-level shading language designed by famous GPU manufacturer Nvidia with collaboration from Microsoft. It is based on the C programming language and shares many similar syntactical components. The language is now deprecated, meaning no additional updates will come.
However, you should not leave this language unexplored if you want to tackle complex problems associated with GPU programming. Cg has fueled many famous games such as Farcry, Hitman, Battlefield 2, and Doom 3. Sony used this language for developing different graphical components of the PS3.
Some of the games made with Cg are mentioned below:
- Battlefield 2
- Doom 3
One of the revolutionary game programming languages of the past decade, UnrealScript is a native scripting language for the infamous Unreal engine. It supports all major gaming platforms such as Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, SteamOS, Android, and PlayStation VR.
The language combines complex features like OOP and multiple inheritances and fueled games. If you want to develop your games on the popular Unreal Engine, learning this language is a must.
Some of the games made with UnrealScript are mentioned below:
- Arkham City
- Fortnite: Save the World
- Devil May Cry
- Ground Branch
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
- Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
- New Retro Arcade: Neon
A high level, an imperative language with object-oriented programming abilities, Squirrel is another the latest game design programming language to learn in 2018. The language itself is influenced by C++ and Lua and aims at solving complex real-time problems that require high levels of bandwidth.
It tackles complicated problems like tail recursion and exception handling in a pragmatic way. The language has been used extensively in many popular games.
Some of the games made with Squirrel are mentioned below:
- Left 4 Dead 2
- Portal 2
- Alien Swarm
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Shadow Warrior
- War Thunder
- Thimbleweed Park
Unity is a cross-platform game engine designed by Unity Technologies, first introduced and released in the year 2005 at Apple Inc.’s Worldwide Developers Conference as a Mac OS X-exclusive game engine. As of 2018, the engine had been extended to support over 25 platforms. The engine can be used to build three-dimensional, two-dimensional, virtual reality, and augmented reality games, as well as simulations and other experiences. The engine has been adopted by industries outside video gaming, like film, automotive, architecture, engineering and construction.
Some of the games made with Unity are mentioned below:
- Battlestar Galactica Online
- English Country Tune
- I Am Player
- King’s Bounty: Legions
- Monkey Quest
- A valley without wind
- Temple Run
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters
- Cities in Motion
CryEngine (officially stylized as CRYENGINE) is a game engine developed by the German game developer Crytek. It has been used in all of their titles with the starting version being used in Far Cry and continues to be updated to support new consoles and hardware for their games.
It has also been used for many third-party games under Crytek’s licensing scheme, including Sniper: Ghost Warrior 2 and SNOW. Warhorse Studios uses a modified version of this engine for their medieval RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance. Ubisoft maintains an in-house, modified version of CryEngine from the main Far Cry known as the Dunia Engine, which is used in their later iterations of the Far Cry series.
Some of the games made with Cryengine are mentioned below:
- Mavericks: Proving Grounds
- Shadow Side
- The Alien Cube
- The Cursed Forest
- Rolling Sun
- Homefront: The Revolution
- Heathen – The Sons of the Law
- The Lost Valley
- Monster Hunter Online
jMonkeyEngine (jME) is a game engine designed especially for modern 3D development, as it uses shader technology extensively. 3D games can be written for both android and desktop devices using jMonkeyEngine. This engine is written in Java and uses LWJGL as its default renderer (another renderer based on JOGL is available). OpenGL 2 through OpenGL 4 is fully supported.
This engine is a community-centric open-source project released under the new BSD license. It is used by various commercial game studios and educational institutions. The default jMonkeyEngine 3 downloads available readily integrated with an advanced SDK.
Some of the games made with Jmonkeyengine are mentioned below:
- Neverwinter Nights
- Hardest Game Ever 2
- Tiny Village
- Small Street
- Tiny Tower
- Pocket Planes
- Hill Climb
- Star Thief
- Geometry Dash
Named after the British comedy group Monty Python, this is another powerful programming language used for game programming. It also runs on OOP principles like Java and C++ and has proven itself an adaptable language used in a huge number of applications.
One of the key benefits Python offers is its Pygame framework, which allows developers to quickly and easily prototype their games. Python is also fairly straightforward to learn with a sizeable online community there to help with support.
Some of the games made with Python are mentioned below:
- Battlefield 2
- Civilization IV
- Disney’s Toontown Online
- Vega Strike
- World of Tanks
- The Temple of Elemental Evil
- Disney’s Toontown Online
- Freedom Force
- Mount & Blade
- Pirates of the Caribbean Online
If Apple Apps are your thing, then Swift is the language for you. It is safe, quick, relatively easy to learn, and multipurpose. If you want to make apps for Mac and iOS devices, then Swift is a much better option then going with cross-platform languages. Swift users can employ Apple’s SceneKit and SpriteKit when it comes to developing ideas, but they are restricted to using Apple’s hardware.
Some of the games made with Swift are mentioned below:
We have listed and described in this article some nice programming languages you can use to develop games either for web or mobile phones. We explained further by listing some of the games you could build with these languages. Study them carefully and choose the language you want for your next game development.
Also Read: 20 Best Frontend Frameworks