The History of C++ Coding in Video Games

In recent years, the video game industry has experienced tremendous growth and is constantly evolving. One of the primary driving forces behind this growth is the use of programming languages like C++. Game developers widely use C++, a high-level programming language, for the development of video games due to its numerous features, such as speed, efficiency, and flexibility. In this article, we will delve into the history of C++ coding in video games.

The Origin of C++

C++ was first introduced in the early 1980s by Bjarne Stroustrup, who was working at Bell Labs at the time. Stroustrup had previously worked on a language called C, which was used primarily for system programming. He wanted to create a language that would build upon the strengths of C while also adding additional features that would make it more suitable for a broader range of applications.

The Early Years of C++ in Video Games

In the early 1990s, game developers began using C++ as video game development was still in its nascent stage, and most games were developed using low-level programming languages like assembly language. However, as games became more complex, developers started searching for higher-level programming languages that could help streamline the development process. C++ emerged as one of the first languages to be adopted by game developers due to its object-oriented programming features, which made it a perfect fit for developing complex game systems.

Developers leveraged C++ to create classes representing game objects like characters, enemies, and items, and used these classes to build game systems like physics engines, artificial intelligence, and user interfaces. C++’s object-oriented programming features proved to be beneficial as it allowed developers to build complex game systems, leading to a rise in its adoption in video game development.

The Rise of C++ in the 2000s

The 2000s saw a significant increase in the use of C++ in video game development. This was driven in part by the increasing popularity of console gaming, which required developers to create games that ran on a variety of different hardware platforms. C++ was well-suited to this task, as it provided developers with a high degree of platform independence.

The use of C++ also helped to fuel the growth of the PC gaming industry. As PCs became more powerful, game developers were able to create games with more advanced graphics, physics, and artificial intelligence. C++ was a key component in making these advancements possible.

The Modern Era of C++ in Video Games

Today, C++ remains one of the most popular programming languages used in video game development. Game engines such as Unreal Engine 4 and Unity rely heavily on C++ to provide developers with the tools they need to create complex game systems.

An upcoming game that is coded in C++ is Diablo 4, releasing in June 2022.

C++ has also played a key role in the growth of the mobile gaming industry. As smartphones and tablets have become more powerful, game developers have been able to create games that rival those found on traditional gaming consoles. Once again, C++ has been instrumental in making this possible.

C++ in Modern Game Engines

Game engines are software frameworks that provide developers with a range of tools and features for creating video games. C++ is a key component in many modern game engines, including Unreal Engine 4, Unity, and CryEngine. These engines rely heavily on C++ to provide developers with the performance, flexibility, and scalability they need to create complex game systems.

One of the main advantages of using C++ in game engines is its ability to interface with other languages. Game engines often provide scripting languages such as Lua or Python, which are used for high-level logic and game scripting. C++ can interface with these languages through a range of APIs, allowing developers to create custom game logic that runs alongside the engine’s built-in features.

C++ in AAA Game Development

AAA game development refers to the development of high-budget, high-quality video games. These games often require massive development teams and years of development time. C++ has played a critical role in the development of many AAA games. This provides developers with the performance and flexibility they need to create complex game systems.

For example, the popular game series, Grand Theft Auto, relies heavily on C++ to power its open-world gameplay mechanics. The game’s physics engine, AI systems, and rendering pipeline are all implemented in C++. This allows the game to provide a high level of realism and interactivity, which is essential for creating an immersive open-world experience.

C++ in Indie Game Development

Indie game development refers to the development of video games by small, independent teams or individuals. C++ has also played a significant role in the indie game development scene, providing developers with the performance and flexibility they need to create unique and innovative games.

One example of an indie game that uses C++ is Stardew Valley, a farming simulation game developed by a single developer. The game’s engine is built entirely in C++, which allowed the developer to create a game that runs smoothly on a wide range of hardware platforms. The game’s codebase is also open-source, which has allowed other developers to contribute to the game’s development and create mods and custom content.


The history of C++ coding in video games is a fascinating one. From its origins in the early 1980s to its continued use in modern game development, C++ has played a key role in helping game developers to create some of the most innovative and engaging games of all time. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that C++ will remain a vital tool in the video game developer’s toolbox for many years to come.

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