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Best Programming Language for Games for 2022

Posted in Game Design, Programming, programming language
Best Programing Language For Games

At last count, there were over 300 programming languages in the world. Of those, perhaps a few dozen are commonly used. But which is the best programming language for games?

Overall, the most popular languages for game development are:

But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the best languages for game development — just that they’re the most popular game programming languages.

Now, we’ll take a deeper look at these popular options, their pros, their cons, and how you can get started.

What is Game Programming?

What makes a programming language the best coding language for games? How does programming for games differ from any other application?

Not every programming language is good at everything. For example, some languages are designed for data science (such as R) while some are designed for web development (such as JavaScript).

The best language for game development must be:

  • Fast and lightweight. A language used for game development cannot be slow to compile. Many players expect real-time action. 
  • Robust. Today’s games are extremely complex. A video game programming language has to support large volumes of data and complex graphics.
  • Well-integrated. Game programmers must work closely with artists and designers. They must be able to import art assets into the game.
  • Well-supported. Particularly with game development kits and game development engines. You can have the best game development languages in the world, but they’re useless if no one else uses them.

Apart from this, many game developers look for code that is simple, easy, and can be rapidly deployed. Because so many game developers are also one-person shops, game developers also frequently look for the best programming language for games for beginners.

The Relationship Between Game Programming and Platforms

The platform you want to release games for will impact the game programming languages available to you.

For example, if you want to develop a game for the PC, you might choose C++ since it is a common language for PC games. If you wanted to develop a game for the PlayStation 4, you would need to use C++ or a game engine that can compile to C++.

For the most part, coding languages for games are well-supported across all platforms. You can use Java or C++ virtually anywhere. But there may be specific game programming languages to consider for mobile games. Objective C is frequently used for games on Apple devices, as is Swift.

Game Programming and Game Development Kits

Another thing to consider is that the best languages for game development may simply be the language best supported by your kit.

To make game development easier, companies create their own game development kits. A GDK includes (nearly) everything a programmer needs to create a game. Often, a GDK can even export the game to multiple platforms.

For example, Unreal Engine 4 is a GDK used to develop games for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. Unreal Engine is also written in C++ and uses the C++ language. 

So, developers who want to program their game in Unreal Engine need to use C++ or Unreal Engine's internal Blueprints system. And there are many advantages to using a GDK as robust as Unreal Engine or Unity.

Where Can I Learn Game Development Programming?

Let’s say you’re interested in learning how to develop games. You’re not sure what language you want to learn or what platform you want to use — you just need an introduction to the theory behind game design and its major principles. 

To learn more, you can: 

Get started by reading this overview of how to code a game — it will walk you through the major concepts of game design and the decisions you will need to make to further your knowledge.

The Best Programming Language for Games

Now that we’ve discussed some of the most important elements of a game programming language, let’s look at some of the most popular ones.

Some of these programming languages are most frequently used for games, while others are robust, general-purpose languages.

1. C++

C++ is a powerful object-oriented language widely used in game development. While it can be difficult to learn, it earns its position through ubiquity. It’s supported by most game development kits and frameworks. 

Start learning C++ online.

Pros of C++

  • Fast and efficient
  • Widely supported by GDKs and frameworks
  • Large community of programmers and open-source code

Cons of C++

  • Complex and difficult for beginners
  • Many game developers specifically have moved on to newer languages

Game Development Systems That Use C++

  • Unreal Engine
  • Godot
  • CryEngine

2. Java

Java is a reliable and portable cross-platform language used to create games that can be played across a multitude of platforms. It is relatively easy to learn and supports a large community of developers.

Wanna learn java online? Check out the best Java tutorials.

Pros of Java

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Cross-platform; games can be played on multiple platforms

Cons of Java

  • Slower than some other languages due to how it’s interpreted
  • Older language and deprecated in some developers’ eyes

Game Development Systems That Use Java

  • Jake2
  • jMonkeyEngine
  • LibGDX

3. C#

C# is an all-purpose language similar to both Java and other C-class languages. It is widely used in game development and offers high performance. At the same time, it has a higher barrier to entry than many simpler game development languages.

Check out our blog to Learn C# online.

Pros of C#

  • Fast and efficient
  • Frequently used for mobile game development 

Cons of C#

  • Can be complex and difficult to learn, especially compared to languages like Python or JavaScript

Game Development Systems That Use C#

  • Unity
  • Godot
  • HeroEngine

4. Python

Python is a widely used, easy-to-learn language that offers high readability. It is frequently used in game development and is also popular for artificial intelligence and machine learning applications.

Check out the best Python tutorials.

Pros of Python

  • Easy to learn and use
  • The versatile language that can be used for many different applications

Cons of Python

  • Slower than some other languages due to how it’s interpreted

Game Development Systems That Use Python

  • Pygame
  • Ren.py
  • Godot Engine

5. JavaScript

JavaScript is a versatile language used to create games as well as robust web applications. It is easy to learn and use, making it popular for beginner programmers. However, it can be held back a bit because it is mostly a web-first language.

Check out how to Learn JavaScript online.

Pros of JavaScript

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Popular for creating browser-based games.

Cons of JavaScript

  • Slower than some other languages
  • Mostly used for web development

Game Development Systems That Use JavaScript

  • Phaser
  • MelonJS
  • PandaEngine

6. Lua

Lua is a lightweight, easy language popular in game development. It is frequently used as a scripting language for games — especially simpler games that may not require intense visuals or in-depth programming.

Check out the best Lua Tutorials.

Pros of Lua

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Popular for mobile game development

Cons of Lua

  • Doesn’t have the capabilities of many other, more robust languages

Game Development Systems That Use Lua

  • WorldForge
  • Cocos2D
  • CraftStudio

GameMaker Language (GML)

GML is a proprietary language used in the popular game development system GameMaker Studio. It is easy to learn and use, making it popular for beginner programmers. Unfortunately, GML is only used in GameMaker Studio, so these skills don’t transfer to another platform.

Pros of GML

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Can be used to create games for multiple platforms that GameMaker Studio will compile to

Cons of GML

  • Can only be used with GameMaker Studio (proprietary language)

Game Development Systems That Use GML

  • GameMaker Studio

7. Swift

Swift is a new language created by Apple. It is frequently used for iOS game development, but it can be used to create many types of mobile applications. It’s frequently sought after by game development companies because it is relatively new.

How to Learn Swift, Checkout here.

Pros of Swift

  • Easy to learn and use.
  • Offers high performance.
  • Great for programming iOS games.

Cons of Swift

  • Limited to iOS mobile applications.

Game Development Systems That Use Swift

  • SpriteKit
  • SceneKit
  • ARKit

Do You Need to Learn a Programming Language to Develop Games?

Believe it or not, you don’t need to learn a programming language to develop games.

Many game development systems allow you to create games without any coding. Even Unreal Engine has a method for programming through a drag-and-drop interface (Blueprints).

However, learning to code gives you more control over the development process and allows you to create more sophisticated games.

Developing a game without code can be more challenging than you think. You may find that learning a programming language is easier in the long run, and you'll get better results overall.

How to Choose the Right Game Development Language for You

When choosing a game development language, consider your skills and experience level. If you’re a beginner, you may want to choose a language that is easy to learn and use like JavaScript or Lua. If you’re more experienced, you might choose a language that offers better performance, such as C++.

Additionally, consider the game engine you want to use. Game engines go beyond simply providing a framework for your game. They can have an extraordinary impact on the assets you can use and the community support and documentation available.

Conclusion

Bottom line? The best programming language for games will be largely influenced by your game development platform. Whether you're interested in using Unity or Unreal, or programming Android games or iOS games, you'll have to find a language well-suited to your goals.

But if you're just interested in learning a useful, all-purpose language that is also used in game development, you can't go wrong with C#, Python, Java, or JavaScript. Whether you're developing games for desktop computers or mobile devices, these languages are flexible enough to do the trick.

Take the next step and take a course and get certified in Game Development by Udemy with this course!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is Python Not Used in Games?

Python is used in games, but it’s not as widely used as languages like C++ or Java. This is largely because Python tends to be slow. But that just means that it’s hard to use Python for resource-intensive games, such as first-person shooters.

2. Is C# or C++ Better as a Game Coding Language?

C++ and C# are both popular languages for game development. They are both fast and efficient. However, C++ can be more difficult to learn. It's a lower-level language with fewer layers of abstraction; this gives better levels of control but can make it very difficult to develop games quickly.

3. What is the Best Language for Game Development?

The answer to this question depends on your needs and preferences. If you’re a beginner, you might consider Python or Java. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, you might try C++ or C#.

4. What are the Easiest Languages for Game Development?

The easiest languages for game development are Python and JavaScript. These languages are easy to learn and use, making them popular among beginner programmers.

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Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye

Jenna Inouye has been a full stack developer for two decades, specializing in web application design and development. For the last eight years, she has worked as a news and feature writer focusing on technology and finance, with bylines in Udemy, SVG, and The Gamer. View all posts by the Author

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