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What math should all game programmers know?

And I don't mean just space shooters and such, because in non-3D environments it's obvious that not much beyond elementary math is needed to implement. Most of the programming in 2D games is mostly going to involve basic arithmetic, algorithms for enemy AI and dimensional worlds, rotation, and maybe some Algebra as well depending on how you want to design.

But I ask because I'm not really gifted with math at all. I get frustrated and worn out just by doing Pre-Algebra, so Algebra 2 and Calculus would likely be futile for me.

I guess I'm not so "right-brained" when it comes down to pure numbers and math formulas, but the bad part is that I'm no art-expert either.

What do you people here suppose I should do? Go along avoiding as much of the extremely difficult maths I can't fathom, or try to ease into more complex math as I excel at programming?


2 Answers 2


Whatever you Math topics you want to learn about, I found http://www.khanacademy.org to be an awesome resource for learning such things.

The E-Learning videos presented on that site (by Sal Khan) are amazing, I learned a lot about advanced linear algebra (matrix projections and such stuff I needed for OpenGL programming) from him. Make sure to check it out - whatever topic you want explained very well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "advanced linear algebra" like "matrix projections" lol? Even for a physicist that is offensive... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2012 at 7:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't get that... did I mix up stuff again, or do you think matrix operations are simple? \$\endgroup\$
    – opatut
    Nov 11, 2012 at 13:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was kidding, don't bother. Anyway, the link is nice ;) +1 for that \$\endgroup\$ Nov 11, 2012 at 13:37

I'd suggest you pick a development environment / framework which does most of the Maths for you. You don't need to be an expert on Matrix calculations when you know how to use matrices from a tutorial. XNA would be a good place to start.

When you know the basics it's enough to create most simple games, 2D and 3D. When you want something more and start optimizing performance etc. you might want to upgrade your math skill first.


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