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By the Numbers: Well-Known Games with Advanced Maths


Games with Advanced Maths

Many people dread the idea of using maths in their daily life. Whether involved in personal accounting or attempting to split a group bill, the idea sends most people scrambling for a calculator. But not necessarily everyone.

Gamers, specifically, are a bit more likely to use maths in their daily lives. This is especially true for anyone tinkering behind the scenes to create games. Game design involves complex mathematical fields like algebra, trigonometry, and even some calculus. These are used to determine things like matrices, delta time, and scalar manipulation.

For the most part, computer programs handle the more difficult mathematical procedures while game developers focus on programming and infrastructure. Still, maths is deeply tied to our digital world, and especially popular video games. Minecraft, for example, was a passion project from a solo gamer who used his maths and programming skills to launch an indie project… which has since become the world’s most-sold game.

Let’s zoom out for a second. Though it takes quite a bit of maths to create, program, develop, and launch a game, these aren’t the only ways in which numbers intersect with gaming. In fact, there are dozens of titles that subtly interweave maths into the game design and mechanics.

And while you might think that this is a modern phenomenon, it isn’t. Let’s explore some of the most well-known games that incorporate advanced maths.



Casino games are some of the earliest titles to interweave maths with gameplay. Most people probably think about blackjack, which requires players to hit 21 without going over. Though it involves quite a bit of strategy, roulette also puts a strong emphasis on numbers and probabilities.

Depending on the type of roulette being played, there are either 36 or 37 places around the table. Players can choose to place bets at one or all of these roulette numbers—but they’ll only receive a payout for those that hit on the wheel. Strategies cover when to bet on which numbers, but most players will use a bit of maths to finalize their bets, especially as the game goes on.



Portal is a logic puzzle that requires players to hit targets using various portals. For the most part, it’s a spatial challenge that gets progressively harder as the number of portals increases. While it might not sound very mathematical, the game’s design uses quite a few principles from the physics world. 

As players advance, they’ll unwittingly be learning a few of these lessons. In fact, each portal more or less functions like a black hole, while players can use portal guns to navigate these black holes by creating wormholes. At one point, this video game was part of a proposed plan to adapt the game to be used by educators, but this fell through back in 2011.

Well-Known Games


Kerbal Space Program

Let’s stick with physics for a moment. Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulation game in which players direct and manage a space program. Though they’re in charge of Kerbals (aliens) instead of humans, the game is based on physics engines and real-life orbital manoeuvres. 

In fact, the game has been touted for its realism by organizations like NASA and ESA, along with professionals like Elon Musk and Tory Bruno. Despite the hard take on science and maths, the game has proved hugely successful since its release in 2013. Last year, a second installation was released.


Microsoft Flight Simulator

Like Kerbal Space Program, Microsoft Flight Simulator is a flight simulation game. Rather than tackle astrophysics, MFS stays in our atmosphere. However, players need real-life piloting skills if they want to hit the skies. Whether learning or perfecting their skills, this game offers the chance to practice in a highly realistic and immersive simulation - maths included.

In fact, MFS has been used by educators to help train new pilots. The latest release is hyper realistic, including real-life airports and runways. These are plotted on maps that replicate the scale and distance between physical maps, allowing pilots to even learn about rerouting and emergency landing. Things like radio communication and landing/taking off, on the other hand, are harder to learn.


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