One of the things that seems to be a bit of an eye opening experience for many students is that there is a lot of math and science (especially physics) involved in creating game programs. Many game programs are really elaborate simulations and a good simulation has to actually and correctly simulate things. Channel 9 has an interview with Brian Beckman who is a physicist who works on game simulations. Recently he world on the physics behind simulating the tires in the popular racing game Forza.
Here is the write up on the interview taken from Channel 9.
Ever find yourself wondering about the math behind your favorite simulation game? Did you know that the motion physics of a car are much more complicated than the those of an airplane?
Brian Beckman, physicist, programmer and Channel 9 celebrity (he's been on C9 a few times...), sure does. Besides spending time innovating programming languages and tools, Brian spends time working on the mathematics behind real-time physics simulation. Most recently, he worked on the math behind the tire physics of the popular racing game Forza.
Simulation, by definition, needs to be accurate. Otherwise, well, it's not simulating reality, really, which is of course the idea of simulation. Games like Forza in fact simulate real physics of racing in a predictable and highly mathematically precise manner. That's exactly why Forza is a real-time automobile racing simulation game.
The past, present and future of computer simulation of real-time physical events, or simply computer-based simulations that involve highly accurate representations of things moving/changing in space and time that are precisely affected by multiple variables like wind, rain, gravity, mud, oil, planets, waves, etc are very fascinating topics for gamers(many may not realize this explicitly, but they sure experience it!), mathematicians, programmers and physicists alike. Heck, any body who thinks about the thinking behind things that they experience in a simulated environment should watch/listen to this interview (available in podcast form as well as video).
Speaking of both Physics and Channel 10, take a look at this cool demo from Maker Faire with Laura Foy. A man in a metal suit getting hit by artificial lightning. It's a demo that UC Santa Cruz takes into high schools in California.