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How Do Video Game Designers Use Maths in Their Careers?

When it comes to careers in tech, video game design is one of the most popular choice, with millions of kids dreaming of one day creating their own games.

Video game design can also be lucrative, with many titles raking in millions annually. In fact, the gaming industry is now one of the biggest forms of entertainment in the world, having overtaken the movie, music, and tv show industries by a sustainable margin.

Consequently, countless fans eagerly wait for the latest blockbuster games to release, sinking hours into the titles on their favourite consoles, PCs, or machines.

However, how important is learning maths when it comes to video game design? Is it a requirement or can video game developers build their creations without properly understanding mathematics?

In this short guide, we will explain the roles that maths can play in video game design.

Before we go on though, please note that FunTech offer a range of video game design courses for kids of all ages. Please browse the current options available.

How important is maths in video game design?

Maths is one of the most important foundations to building a successful video game. Without this, it would be impossible to create the characters or environments that appear on screen, let alone make them move or interact with the world around them.

In more complex games, this can take the form of handling a gun or other weaponry, programming physics to respond correctly, implementing destructible environments, and coding dynamic weather systems that will change depending on the time of the day or month.

Below is a list of some of the cool things that math can help developers to do in their video games.

  • Procedurally generate levels (think No Man’s Sky).
  • Script gameplay (events in-game, jumping and walking).
  • Animate scenes and characters.
  • Program AI to interact with the player.
  • Simulate realistic water and grass effects.

Developers achieve these mechanics by using a combination of programs and engines to code commands into their games, essentially building them from the ground up.

Although this may sound incredibly complicated, in most cases, this process is made easier by the engines they operate. These engines provide them with an abundance of shortcuts and pre-rendered assets (like basic models, environments, and movements).

What are the most important aspects of math used in game development?

When it comes to simpler games, the math required to program them is not as advanced as more demanding and graphically impressive games, such as Call of Duty, Red Dead Redemption, and Uncharted. In general, smaller and less graphically demanding games, such as the titles you might find on popular app stores or websites, are solely developed with a combination of trigonometry and algebra.

Below you will find some of the most popular branches of maths implemented in video game development today…

  • Calculus
  • Linear Algebra
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics

And here are some of the types of math used in more complicated titles such as open-world titles, first-person shooters, and graphically impressive RPGs…

  • Scaling Vectors
  • Scalar Manipulation
  • Delta Time
  • Domain and Range
  • Dot and Cross Product

Do you need to be good at maths to code?

It is important to note that children do not have to throw themselves into complicated aspects of maths to begin their journey in video game design. At the early stages, advanced mathematical skills are not a requirement for learning to code.

In fact, many games aimed at teaching coding to children will also naturally educate them in implementing the maths they need to carry out tasks in-game, and from there they will slowly move on to more complicated areas in the field.

Children (or even adults) can start learning to code by using programs and websites that help students get to grips with these types of skills a lot easier.

Online, there are a plethora of resources that explain the fundamentals in an easy-to-process manner including the courses available with FunTech.

Additionally, according to many experts, while maths and video game development go hand in hand, the amount of high-level math needed in many projects and other similar tech jobs is somewhat overblown.

Instead, for many members of a team, critical thinking and a flair for good design choices are more important than any incredible feats of mathematical skill. Likewise, not every programmer working in a team needs to be a mastermind, with many only requiring basic skills to fix bugs and other small issues.

That being said, if your child wishes to play a prominent role in making the next big blockbuster game, then he or she will have to master some of the more complicated aspects of maths and programming in the future.

Like any advanced skill, this can take years of study and practice, and whether they are successful in this endeavour will likely depend on how passionate they are about this subject.

Lastly, parents must nurture their child’s interest in video game design and not be put off by the maths involved in learning this skill.

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