Dec 2021

There Are More Physics In Your Video Games Than You Think

December 31, 2021

There Are More Physics In Your Video Games Than You Think

Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Michael Faraday. These are probably some of the names that might pop up in your mind when we mention physics.

The concept of physics is part of our everyday life. While we have been learning about how our universe has been over the millions of years, there are breakthroughs in our knowledge every day. Apples and gravity are perhaps what got most people acquainted with the world of physics.

In their quest for knowledge, many people often seek solace in the simplest of things. In this article, we will be touching on one activity most youngsters enjoy — gaming.

Video games these days are getting more realistic, each getting more immersive than their predecessors. However, like movies, we often wonder how much of reality they recreate in terms of the laws of physics. And that is one reason why gaming can be addictive.


The physics depicted in video games are usually modelled after what we know of physics in the real world. Take Grand Theft Auto (GTA), a successful game franchise enjoyed by many worldwide, as an example. Driving a car in GTA compared to one in the real world is vastly different. Acceleration, deceleration, collision, turning has a different experience when compared.

You can cut corners at high speed safely. In games like GTA, when you drive over the hill at a certain speed, your car “flies” for a brief moment before hitting back onto the road safely. In real life, you do not “fly” when going over a hill, and your car will undoubtedly flip if you cut corners at high speed.

While accurate physics has not been seen much in past games, it has been seen in newer games. Things like factoring in how the arrow and a bullet flies, to varying weights of objects and materials. It is things like this that makes the game a little more realistic.

Computing capability

Video games are unlike the real world. We are all familiar with Newton’s third law of motion, “What goes up must come down.” Gravity functions in the real world without a supercomputer telling it what to do. However, it is just a programmed function inputted to mimic fundamental physics in video games.

Physics and the various equations we learn in school are methods men have invented to understand better how the world functions.

That is why things like a helicopter taking off to how light rays are reflected involve many physics equations, part of physics coding. These codings are usually done by physics graduates, who studied and understood the concept behind physics. However, the final decision of how physics play out in games still boils down to its developers.

Making physics a subtle focus of the game

Many developers turn to middleware, a software that mimics physics. Games become more realistic in how objects clash with one another, the simulation of a car’s acceleration and how a person collapses when they are shot at.

While it can be expensive to add middleware to games, both from a time-cost and computing power point of view, it does help developers add realism to their games – something that many gamers in this time and age are looking for.

There are also physics-based games such as Angry Birds and Portals, where physics is the central part of the game. Factors like a parabola, gravity, trajectory are calculated when playing such games.


While physics concepts are still not as advanced and realistic as we like them in games, it is interesting to see how far the game industry has come. It shows that physics does play a massive role in everything we see.

At Best Physics Tuition Centre, while the experienced physics tutor may not be able to teach you the application of physics in video game design, we can help you understand better the concepts of physics theory. With this, you can better appreciate your games and even create a game in the future.

We offer O-level physics tuition to JC H1 and H2 physics tuition. Contact us at 8700 9189 to find out how to score your A in your physics exams.

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