Get started with GameActivity   Part of Android Game Development Kit.

This guide describes how to set up and integrate GameActivity and handle events in your Android game.

GameActivity helps you bring your C or C++ game to Android by simplifying the process of using critical APIs. Previously NativeActivity was the recommended class for games. GameActivity replaces it as the recommended class for games, and is backwards compatible to API level 19.

For a sample that integrates GameActivity, see the games-samples repository.

Before you start

See GameActivity releases to obtain a distribution.

Set up your build

On Android, an Activity serves as the entry point for your game, and also provides the Window to draw within. Many games extend this Activity with their own Java or Kotlin class to defeat limitations in NativeActivity while using JNI code to bridge to their C or C++ game code.

GameActivity offers the following capabilities:

GameActivity is distributed as an Android Archive (AAR). This AAR contains the Java class that you use in your AndroidManifest.xml, as well as the C and C++ source code that connects the Java side of GameActivity to the app's C/C++ implementation. If you're using GameActivity 1.2.2 or later, the C/C++ static library is also provided. Whenever applicable, we recommend that you use the static library instead of the source code.

Include these source files or the static library as part of your build process through Prefab, which exposes native libraries and source code to your CMake project or NDK build.

  1. Follow the instructions at the Jetpack Android Games page to add the GameActivity library dependency to your game's build.gradle file.

  2. Enable prefab by doing the following with Android Plugin Version (AGP) 4.1+:

    • Add the following to the android block of your module's build.gradle file:
    buildFeatures {
        prefab true

    If you use earlier AGP versions, follow the prefab documentation for the corresponding configuration instructions.

  3. Import either the C/C++ static library or the C/++ source code into your project as follows.

    Static library

    In your project's CMakeLists.txt file, import the game-activity static library into the game-activity_static prefab module:

    find_package(game-activity REQUIRED CONFIG)
    target_link_libraries(${PROJECT_NAME} PUBLIC log android

    Source code

    In your project's CMakeLists.txt file, import the game-activity package and add it to your target. The game-activity package requires, so if it's missing, you must also import it.

    find_package(game-activity REQUIRED CONFIG)
    target_link_libraries(... android game-activity::game-activity)

    Also, include the following files into your project's CmakeLists.txt: GameActivity.cpp, GameTextInput.cpp, and android_native_app_glue.c.

How Android launches your Activity

The Android system executes code in your Activity instance by invoking callback methods that correspond to specific stages of the activity lifecycle. In order for Android to launch your activity and start your game, you need to declare your activity with the appropriate attributes in the Android Manifest. For more information, see Introduction to Activities.

Android Manifest

Every app project must have an AndroidManifest.xml file at the root of the project source set. The manifest file describes essential information about your app to the Android build tools, the Android operating system, and Google Play. This includes:

Implement GameActivity in your game

  1. Create or identify your main activity Java class (the one specified in the activity element inside your AndroidManifest.xml file). Change this class to extend GameActivity from the package:

    public class YourGameActivity extends GameActivity { ... }
  2. Make sure your native library is loaded at the start using a static block:

    public class EndlessTunnelActivity extends GameActivity {
      static {
        // Load the native library.
        // The name "android-game" depends on your CMake configuration, must be
        // consistent here and inside AndroidManifect.xml
  3. Add your native library to AndroidManifest.xml if your library name is not the default name (

    <meta-data android:name=""
     android:value="android-game" />

Implement android_main

  1. The android_native_app_glue library is a source code library that your game uses to manage GameActivity lifecycle events in a separate thread in order to prevent blocking in your main thread. When using the library, you register the callback to handle lifecycle events, such as touch input events. The GameActivity archive includes its own version of the android_native_app_glue library, so you can not use the version included in NDK releases. If your games are using the android_native_app_glue library that's included in the NDK, switch to the GameActivity version.

    After you add the android_native_app_glue library source code to your project, it interfaces with GameActivity. Implement a function called android_main, which is called by the library and used as the entry point for your game. It is passed a structure called android_app. This may differ for your game and engine. Here's an example:

    #include <game-activity/native_app_glue/android_native_app_glue.h>
    extern "C" {
        void android_main(struct android_app* state);
    void android_main(struct android_app* app) {
        NativeEngine *engine = new NativeEngine(app);
        delete engine;
  2. Process android_app in your main game loop, such as polling and handling app cycle events defined in NativeAppGlueAppCmd. For example, the following snippet registers function _hand_cmd_proxy as the NativeAppGlueAppCmd handler, then polls app cycle events, and sends them to the registered handler(in android_app::onAppCmd) for processing:

    void NativeEngine::GameLoop() {
      mApp->userData = this;
      mApp->onAppCmd = _handle_cmd_proxy;  // register your command handler.
      mApp->textInputState = 0;
      while (1) {
        int events;
        struct android_poll_source* source;
        // If not animating, block until we get an event;
        // If animating, don't block.
        while ((ALooper_pollAll(IsAnimating() ? 0 : -1, NULL, &events,
          (void **) &source)) >= 0) {
            if (source != NULL) {
                // process events, native_app_glue internally sends the outstanding
                // application lifecycle events to mApp->onAppCmd.
                source->process(source->app, source);
            if (mApp->destroyRequested) {
        if (IsAnimating()) {
  3. For further reading, study the implementation of the Endless Tunnel NDK example. The main difference will be how to handle events as shown in the next section.

Handle events

To enable input events to reach your app, create and register your event filters with android_app_set_motion_event_filter and android_app_set_key_event_filter. By default, native_app_glue library only allows motion events from SOURCE_TOUCHSCREEN input. Make sure to check out the reference doc and the android_native_app_glue implmenetation code for the details.

To handle input events, get a reference to the android_input_buffer with android_app_swap_input_buffers() in your game loop. These contain motion events and key events that have happened since the last time it was polled. The number of events contained is stored in motionEventsCount, and keyEventsCount respectively.

  1. Iterate and handle each event in your game loop. In this example, the following code iterates motionEvents and handles them via handle_event:

    android_input_buffer* inputBuffer = android_app_swap_input_buffers(app);
    if (inputBuffer && inputBuffer->motionEventsCount) {
        for (uint64_t i = 0; i < inputBuffer->motionEventsCount; ++i) {
            GameActivityMotionEvent* motionEvent = &inputBuffer->motionEvents[i];
            if (motionEvent->pointerCount > 0) {
                const int action = motionEvent->action;
                const int actionMasked = action & AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_MASK;
                // Initialize pointerIndex to the max size, we only cook an
                // event at the end of the function if pointerIndex is set to a valid index range
                uint32_t pointerIndex = GAMEACTIVITY_MAX_NUM_POINTERS_IN_MOTION_EVENT;
                struct CookedEvent ev;
                memset(&ev, 0, sizeof(ev));
                ev.motionIsOnScreen = motionEvent->source == AINPUT_SOURCE_TOUCHSCREEN;
                if (ev.motionIsOnScreen) {
                    // use screen size as the motion range
                    ev.motionMinX = 0.0f;
                    ev.motionMaxX = SceneManager::GetInstance()->GetScreenWidth();
                    ev.motionMinY = 0.0f;
                    ev.motionMaxY = SceneManager::GetInstance()->GetScreenHeight();
                switch (actionMasked) {
                    case AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_DOWN:
                        pointerIndex = 0;
                        ev.type = COOKED_EVENT_TYPE_POINTER_DOWN;
                    case AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_DOWN:
                        pointerIndex = ((action & AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_MASK)
                                       >> AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_SHIFT);
                        ev.type = COOKED_EVENT_TYPE_POINTER_DOWN;
                    case AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_UP:
                        pointerIndex = 0;
                        ev.type = COOKED_EVENT_TYPE_POINTER_UP;
                    case AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_UP:
                        pointerIndex = ((action & AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_MASK)
                                       >> AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_POINTER_INDEX_SHIFT);
                        ev.type = COOKED_EVENT_TYPE_POINTER_UP;
                    case AMOTION_EVENT_ACTION_MOVE: {
                        // Move includes all active pointers, so loop and process them here,
                        // we do not set pointerIndex since we are cooking the events in
                        // this loop rather than at the bottom of the function
                        ev.type = COOKED_EVENT_TYPE_POINTER_MOVE;
                        for (uint32_t i = 0; i < motionEvent->pointerCount; ++i) {
                            _cookEventForPointerIndex(motionEvent, callback, ev, i);
                // Only cook an event if we set the pointerIndex to a valid range, note that
                // move events cook above in the switch statement.
                if (pointerIndex != GAMEACTIVITY_MAX_NUM_POINTERS_IN_MOTION_EVENT) {
                    _cookEventForPointerIndex(motionEvent, callback,
                                              ev, pointerIndex);

    See the GitHub sample for the implementation of the _cookEventForPointerIndex() and other related functions.

  2. When you are done, remember to clear the queue of events that you have just handled:


Additional resources

To learn more about GameActivity, see the following:

To report bugs or request new features to GameActivity, use the GameActivity issue tracker.