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A scripting language is a subset of programming languages. It is somewhat difficult to say exactly where the dividing line is between the two.

A scripting language can be as simple as a text configuration file, or as complicated as any Programming Language. It all depends on how much control the game developer wants to give the player. Usually, people do not call simple configuration files scripting languages; the term is typically reserved for something that actually looks like a programming language.

The major difference between a programming language and a scripting language is when the language is compiled and executed. Programming languages are typically compiled long before they are executed (you usually only get the compiled form with a game), whereas scripting languages are compiled at runtime by the game as needed.

Popular Gaming Scripting Languages

These languages are frequently used for gaming, though they can be used in other ways.

  • Lua
  • Unreal Script (For Unreal Engine games)
  • Many developers also have their own in-house scripting languages.
  • Ruby Gaming Scripting System (A Ruby derived script, notably used in RPG Maker since XP).
  • Python (also popular as an application language)
  • The various flavors of ECMAScript, which include JavaScript (for web pages) and ActionScript (a compiled form used in Adobe Flash games)

Popular Non-Gaming Scripting Languages

Some of these could be used for gaming purposes, but rarely if ever are.

  • Common Lisp/Emacs Lisp/Scheme (used for many GNU applications as well as Jak and Daxter)
  • Korn/Bourne (shell scripts on UNIX-like operating systems)
  • Perl (known for having several uses; one use is interactive web pages)
  • PHP (also used for interactive Web pages)
  • Windows and MS-DOS batch files (basically DOS and Windows's answer to shell scripts)