Future game designers will spend most of their college experience in the university computer labs. However, math coursework also plays a significant role in a game designer’s education. Some folks aren't aware of the connections between mathematics and computer programming. In order to graduate, most game designing majors are required to study geometry, algebra and calculus.
Statistics lays at the heart of most video games, when you think about it: the probability of successfully landing a jump, injuring an opponent or choosing the right pathway. That probability, however, does not exist solely on the side of the gamer in post-production. The designer’s knowledge of statistics, as required by most game design programs, is responsible for creating the statistical likelihood of all events in the game to begin with.
Linear algebra is a fairly basic math class, but is often required for game designers who lack formal training in mathematics as a course to build upon. In linear algebra, a student will be expected to learn about matrix theory and practical applications of algebra. For game designers, these practical applications will assist in their ability to understand vector spaces in a 3D model of a video game in production.
Geometry is necessary in order to understand how shapes can be created by a computer algorithm. In a basic geometry class, a future game designer will first learn the basics, like limits, functions, derivatives and how to solve for the maximum or minimum of an equation. Further geometric study will demonstrate to students how those basics come together to create graphic representations through integration and parametric equations.
Mathematical modeling takes the lessons learned in geometry and pushes each just a little further ahead. Geometry alone can create simple shapes, but mathematical modeling is necessary to begin putting those shapes together to create more complicated forms. For example, a line in geometry is just a line. In mathematical modeling, however, students are given the tools to create a 3-dimensional shape like a cylinder by rotating a curve around its central axis.
Introduction to Game Theory
Game theory isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds. Rather than dive straight into how games are played, game theory is concerned with the factors that affect a game’s play, like the number of people playing, each player’s individual chances of winning and the effect of strategy on these outcomes. By taking a class that focuses on how everything works together in a game, a future designer will have the tools necessary to create a game that is both complete and satisfying for his audience.
- Teaching Game Design: Game Design Curriculum: Math
- MIT: Linear Algebra
- George Mason University: Applied Computer Science, BS
- The University of Tennessee, Knoxville: University of Pittsburgh-Titusville: Mathematical Modeli ng for Game Design
- UCLA: Game Theory
- Forbes: Totally Pwned: 2012 U.S. Video Game Retail Sales Tumble 22%
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