With the video game industry’s revenue expected to reach $180 billion in the next three years, more and more people are taking a closer look at what skills are needed for a career in this lucrative field. In reality, the video game industry is extremely diverse, and developing games for different platforms requires different sets of skills and expertise. However, at their core, all video games, no matter what platform they’re built for, are made up of bits of code, so learning the coding languages used in creating games is the first step in making yourself marketable to video game developers. If you dream of working for a company like EA Games, Bethesda or LucasArts, or are thinking of starting your own indie game development company, read on to learn more about which coding languages you should look into learning.

C++

C++ is a popular and time-tested programming language, first developed in 1979. It’s an object-oriented language, and happens to be the one that most major PC and console games and game engines are built on. Knowing C++ is essential for a career in the gaming industry. It has so many applications in game programming and design, but it can be a tricky language to learn, even for those who already know other coding languages. Despite this learning curve, it is the desired language for game creators because it allows more control over graphical processes and hardware, both of which are very important in video game functionality.

Many other object-oriented programming languages like Python and Java stem from C++, so C++ is a solid foundation on which to build your coding knowledge. Once you’ve mastered C++, you should be able to learn additional languages with ease. C++ developers are highly respected in the industry, and this skill is sure to make you more valuable in the job market. If you’re serious about learning to create fast, sleek and innovative games from the ground up, start with C++.

HTML And Other Web Languages

If PC and console games aren’t your thing, building games that are played in a web browser can be a fun and rewarding alternative. Browser-based games are increasing in popularity because you can access them on any computer without having to download any special software. These games vary in complexity and function, but HTML5 (along with CSS3, SQL and JavaScript) is essential for building them. These languages are quite easy to pick up and, while they don’t have as much functionality as object-oriented languages, they can still do a lot! Web-based languages weren’t originally designed to support game development, but by combining elements of each, you can build beautiful, responsive games, and create next-level virtual and augmented reality experiences.

Many indie game companies develop browser-based games, so if you’re interested in launching your own web game company, make sure you know HTML, JavaScript, SQL and CSS. These languages are also essential in web design and development, so they’re great skills to have overall.

C#

Developed by Microsoft in 2000, C# (pronounced “C sharp”) uses some of the principles from the C++ language, but is a little simpler to learn. If you want to develop games for a Microsoft-based platform (think Windows or Xbox), C# is a great language to know. In addition, C# can be used to build games for the popular Unity engine, though Unity has C++ at its core. The Unity engine functions on most platforms, so games built in C# have cross-platform functionality.

C# is great because it handles memory management and garbage collection—two things that game developers don’t really want to spend time on. C# is a little more user-friendly and easy to learn than C++, but has more of a limited use. While C# can’t do everything that C++ can, knowing C# is still a highly desirable skill in the video game industry.

Java

If you’re intending to build a game that can be played on multiple platforms, Java is a great coding language to know. Using Java, games can be built for desktop computers and also for mobile. In fact, Java is the official language for developing games on the Android operating system. Like C++, Java is an object-oriented programming language. It has many applications and can be used to develop games for a wide variety of platforms.

Keep in mind that many of the most powerful and popular 3D game engines are written in C++, but don’t let that discourage you from learning Java. In fact, the original release of Minecraft was built with Java! If you already know C#, learning Java should be simple and vice versa.

Launch Your Game Development Career

The great thing about all the coding languages listed above is that once you know them, you aren’t just limited to pursuing a career in game development. These languages have a wide application in web design, software development and computer programming. Once you’re well versed in these languages, you can create programs and applications with tons of different functionalities.

It’s also important to remember that coding is just a small part of video game development. Textures, sound effects and graphics are often left up to video game designers. The code, however, is essential to making a game function smoothly, quickly and without bugs.

Though some universities do offer a degree in video game development, it’s not a common undergraduate degree. Instead, you could gain the needed expertise by pursuing a computer science or computer engineering degree. The skills you’ll learn in these undergraduate programs can help you land a career in game development, software development and more.

The gaming industry is growing and shows no signs of slowing down. If you’d like to get your foot in the door of this exciting field, get started by learning a few coding languages!

Stem Study Blog