Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Destinee from New Jersey, NJ. Destinee Wonders, “how do you create a video game” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Destinee!

After a long day of school and an after-school club, you finally get home. You tackle your homework while you gobble down a healthy dinner. When you finally have some free time to relax, you grab a controller and get ready to go for a virtual drive or defend a planet from an alien invasion.

Playing video games is a popular pastime for kids of all ages. For most kids, the video game journey begins at the video game store and ends at the couch. But have you ever given any thought to all the work that goes into creating the video games you love?

Some people see video games as simple electronic toys that do not take long to produce. In reality, though, the most popular modern video games are complex productions that rival the biggest summer blockbusters created by Hollywood movie studios. Video games can take a year or longer to be made!

Video games might have started out as chasing around a moving dot across a black screen, but today's modern games are interactive marvels that resemble movies and allow for complex game play across a wide variety of settings.

Every modern video game begins with a story. Whether it's a simulation of a historical event or role-playing scenario in a future fantasy world, the story drives the action of the video game and creates a strong bond between the player and the characters in the game.

Writers, artists, designers, and programmers must collaborate to create all the parts of the story, including the characters, the settings, the music and other sounds, and the possible paths the story can take. Unlike movies, which contain a single storyline, video games must account for all the potential paths intense gameplay can take.

Today's gamers expect life-like video games with the best graphics possible. Characters are expected to move like real people would and objects are usually expected to loosely follow the laws of physics. Settings must look like the real world…or whatever fake world exists in the video game. The level of detail that artists and designers must achieve is challenging. That's why it could take over a hundred people to develop a single video game!

Once all the elements of the video game have been designed, it's up to computer experts to put it all together to make it work effectively as a video game. All the characters, settings, sounds, and gameplay elements must be programmed to work together seamlessly.

Computer programmers must write millions of lines of computer language instructions — called code — that control all aspects of the game. Code can be written in a variety of different computer languages, such as C++, Python, Visual Basic, and Perl.

If you think about controlling a particular character in a game, there's a seemingly-endless variety of things you can do with that character. Code must be written to account for all the possible choices you can make with your character. Each move you make leads to changes in the setting, as well as a whole new set of options for your next move. Complex computer code controls all these factors and makes playing the game a seamless experience for the user.

Once a video game is nearly finished, it enters the testing phase, where players test every element of the game in order to find and fix any errors — called bugs — before the game is released. Upon release, the game is marketed to the general public and you get to enjoy the fruits of the thousands upon thousands of hours that went into making the game!

Wonder What's Next?

Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow as we carefully track some animals to learn how they get from Point A to Point B!