What it is: Gaming engines are software frameworks that take care of the physics of game play so game developers can focus on the specific details of a game itself.
In the early days of video games, developers had to create everything from scratch. That meant if two objects could collide or shoot something at another object, developers had to write the algorithms that described how everything worked. If a bullet could ricochet off a wall, then developers had to write code to show how this would work.
Not surprisingly, for simple games this was easy but as games got more sophisticated, this became overwhelming. That’s why programmers started to develop gaming engines. The idea is that the gaming engine takes care of the details of a game so developers could just focus on making the game unique.
Nowadays, new developers create video games without using a gaming engine. Trying to build a video game without a gaming engine is like trying to build a skyscraper without steel beams. Just as it’s easier to weld steel beams together to create a structure, so it’s easier to use a gaming engine to create a video game.
Gaming engines may seem useful just for gaming, but now gaming engines may soon become important for virtual reality as well. The idea is that rather than create algorithms describing virtual settings, developers could just use a gaming engine to do this hard work. After all, gaming engines are already used to create realistic animation for popular video games, so it only makes sense to apply this same technology to creating realistic animation for virtual reality.
Beyond virtual reality, gaming engines can also be used for simulations. After all, a game is nothing more than a simulation of reality such as a video game that lets you pilot an airplane or drive a race car. So gaming engines can be used by architects to design buildings to show clients. Now clients can walk through a virtual mockup of a building before any construction actually begins.
Gaming engines are not just for video games any more but for creating realistic simulations of any situation. Who knew that video games like Pong would eventually spawn an entire game engine industry that is moving out of the video gaming industry to other fields?
Game engines are ways to simplify mimicking reality. The next time you use virtual reality, you could be relying on a game engine.