Ever wondered what a game-engine is? From time to time, for example, when a new game comes out, the name pops up.

I know the following is rather childish and simplistic, but if you have absolutely no idea what such a “game-engine” is or does, it seemed like a good starting point to me.

What is a game engine?

In order for a video game to work, there is a lot to take into account. Rendering, physics, sound, scripting, animation, artificial intelligence, networking, streaming, memory management,…

Re-inventing or rewriting all these pieces of software over and over again would take a lot of time and money. So at some point, someone came up with a bright idea.

What if we made some kind of toolbox that we could re-use every time we made a new game, this doesn’t mean we can’t make adjustments, but then we have a foundation to start from.

So that’s what they did.

the invention of the game engine

The first game engine was born.

Let’s compare making a game to something practical.

Say that making a video game would be the same as making a piece of furniture.

what is a game engine

The cabinet-maker wants a finished piece of furniture and the game developers want a finished game. What do they need for this?

  • An original idea/design.
  • Raw materials.
  • A workshop with tools to process these raw materials.
  • Coffee!

An original idea/design

Let’s simplify things tremendously and state that all we need for an original idea or design is the coffee and some writing and drawing stuff.

what is a game engine

Raw materials

Of course, we need raw materials to start from. For our friend Woody the Furniture-maker this is wood, for Burt our developer these are Game assets.

Game assets include everything that can go into a game, including 3D models, sprites, sound effects, music, code snippets and modules,..

what is a game engine

The workshop/engine

Now we have to convert those raw materials into our final product. For this we need tools. Woody uses hammers, saws, nails and so on.

Burt our developer uses a game engine. A set of tools made by him or some other people, that can help him, for example, to add light sources, or animate a 3D model he got from the modeling team,..

In reality, as you could read at the beginning of this article, a game engine consists of many different small engines, you have engines for sound, artificial intelligence, networking and so on.

what is a game engine


Let’s assume that the first piece of furniture and game has been completed and it’s time for round 2.

Both Woody and Burt want a bigger, better, more detailed product.

Woody has decided to use iron for the legs of his new table design. So he needs a new grinder, iron and welding station. He could buy another hammer but that would be ridiculous, his old hammer works just as well on iron as it did on wood.

what is a game engine

For our video game developers, this is just the same. Some parts of the game engine can be perfectly reused, others can be updated or even completely replaced. I guess you know where I’m going.

So long story short, it doesn’t mean anything if “the same game engine” is used for a new game. It is a continuously evolving thing.

Would you like more information about one of the game-engines in our database. For example the IW-Engine that has given us many great Call of Duty games make your choice below or go to the game-engine overview page.

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