Ragdoll Physics and Ragdoll Games

Introduction to ragdoll physics

During the beginning stages of video game development, animations were used to display a character’s death. As technology progressed new methods were created that would simulate death in a more realistic way. Physics engine based software provides a visual environment for testing ragdoll simulations in real time. Various engines are used depending on the game but the Havok Physics system is one of the most widely used by game developers. Other physics engines include Bullet, Pal and Open Dynamics Engine.

Using the ragdoll approach makes characters not only fall and die realistically but all of the character’s movements are more life like. To illustrate this point just imagine for a second a ragdoll being physically thrown a short distance. When you play ragdoll games the effect of the ragdoll being thrown and landing in the game would rival an actual ragdoll’s movements such as being thrown. The limp limbs of the ragdoll would represent the death sequence of a lifeless body in a video game. This makes ragdoll video games more sophisticated than standard games because of how the character reacts to various simulations during game play.

Another example would be having a rag doll used as a shooting target. If you were to stand the ragdoll up against something and shoot its hand, there would be a reaction in regards to how the hand is thrust back. In the video game world a character’s hand would go in the same physical backwards motions as the ragdoll did. It may sound simple but using a ragdoll as the characters model involves a lot of mathematics and yes physics. Looking at it from this perspective, you can view ragdoll physics as a more scientific approach to video gaming that has more human like results.

Playing ragdoll games online

Finding fun and easy ragdoll games online is easy. Regularly new ragdoll games are made and released online. Many arcade websites focus primarily on the growing ragdoll niche. Most of the games are controlled by mouse or specific keys on the keyboard but the results can be breathtaking. With ragdoll games the character has more flexibility than traditional video games which makes playing them something new to see. Often the character is put in compromising situations where the physics of the game can be clearly seen. An example of this would be a falling stickman in a ragdoll game. The stickman may fall but it will do so in a unique fashion that has been constructed from a ragdoll model.


As games become more interactive ragdoll physics will continue to play a role in the evolution of videogames. In more recent times ragdoll physics has really taken off. More and more games have begun including some form of ragdoll physics as its popularity increases. Flash games, console based and iPhone applications commonly have some type ragdoll physics game available. Even if the game isn’t completely based on ragdoll physics the physics itself may still be present at some point during the game.

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