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Books for Game Designers

This entry was posted on May 20 2013

When Brenda asked Facebook what books Game Designers should read, the results were eye-opening. Compiled here, with links, so that your wallet can hurt as much as mine.

TITLE RECS NOTES
Homo Ludens 1 Games & Culture
Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art 2 Visual Arts, Psychology
Theory of Fun 2 Game Design, Psychology
You Game Fiction
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative 2 Visual Arts
REAMDE Game Fiction
Ready Player One 1 Game Fiction
Medium is the Massage Artistic Mediums
House of Leaves 1 Universal Design
Story 1 Storytelling, Screenwriting
Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience 2 Psychology
The Power of Habit Behavior Design
How the Mind Works Psychology
Predictably Irrational 1 Psychology
The Open Work 1 Artistic Craft
Convergence Culture New Media & Culture
Community Building on the Web Community
The Design of Everyday Things 9 Universal Design
Emotional Design 2 Affective Design
The Shape of Design Universal Design
A Pattern Language 2 Universal Design, Architecture
Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight Play
Thinking, Fast and Slow Psychology
Glued to Games Psychology, Engagement
The Paradox of Choice Psychology
Film Directing: Shot by Shot 1 Cinematography
Universal Principles of Design Universal Design
Freakonomics Psychology, Behavior Design
Normal Accidents Technology & Society
System Effects Systems Design
The Language of New Media New Media
Man, Play and Games 2 Games & Society
Play Psychology, Culture
Game Feel 3 Game Design
Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible 1 Universal Design, History
Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter Game Design, Game History
The Dramatic Imagination 1 Theatre
A Book of Lenses 2 Game Design
Designing Virtual Worlds Virtual Worlds
The Illusion of Life: Disney Animation Animation
Trigger Happy Comparative Entertainment
Oxford History of Board Games Game History, Game Design
Science of Human Nature Psychology
A Whole New Mind Psychology, Creativity
Masters of Doom 1 Game Industry History
The Tao of Pooh Team Management
99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style Storytelling
Space, Time, Play Virtual Spaces, Architecture
Moneyball Free To Play
Amusing Ourselves to Death Entertainment & Society
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Fiction, Values
The Tipping Point Virality in Culture
Comics and Sequential Art Visual Arts
Maus Subject Matter
Maus II Subject Matter
Architecture: Form, Space, and Order Architecture
Emergence Emergent Systems
The Design of Future Things Technology Design
How to Win Friends and Influence People Communication, Game Industry
Critical Play Serious Game Design
The Complete Wargame Handbook Game Design
A Director Prepares: Seven Essays on Art and Theatre Theatre
A Mathematical Theory of Communication Communication
The Man Who Lied to His Laptop Technology & Society
Statistics for Dummies 1 Statistics
Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Autobiography
Impro: Improvisation and Theatre Theatre, Improv
The Game Designer’s Bookshelf Additional Resources
Hero with a Thousand Faces Storytelling
Godel Escher Bach Systems Thinking
Snow Crash Game Fiction
The Electronic Eye: The Rise of a Surveillance Society Technology & Society
In Pursuit of Elegance Ideas, Expressive Art
The Soul of a New Machine Technology & Culture
Art as Experience Esp. Ch3: Having an Experience
Thinking in Systems: A Primer Systems Thinking
Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System Systems Design
Videogames of the Oppressed Serious Games, Society
The Game Design Reader Game Design
Human Values and the Design of Computer Technology
First Person: New Media as Story, Performance, and Game New Media
Rules of Play Game Design
Gender Inclusive Game Design Diversity in Games
Half Real Game Design
Simulation versus Narrative: Introduction to Ludology
Twisty Little Passages Interactive Fiction
Game Over Game Industry History
The Ultimate History of Video Games Game History
The Reverse Design Project Game History
Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971-1984 Game History
1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die Game History
Killing Monsters Game Violence
Congressional Testimony on Media Violence Game Violence
The War Between Effects and Meaning Game Violence
Lucky Wander Boy Game Fiction
Damn Good Advice For Independent Creatives
The Well-Played Game Play, Philosophy
Poetics Storytelling
User Centered Design
Beautiful Evidence Information Visualization
Visual Explanations Information Visualization
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information Information Visualization
The Origins of Architectural Pleasure Architecture
Chambers for a Memory Palace Architecture
The Animator’s Survival Kit Animation
Traffic Emergent Systems
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion Psychology, Persuasion
Made to Stick Communication, Marketing
Good to Great Business
The Study of Games
Supercrunchers Data
The Denial of Death Existentialism
Everything Bad is Good For You Popular Culture
Bird by Bird Writing
A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness Psychology
The Mind’s I Philosophy, Ontology
My Tiny Life Virtual Communities
Play Money Virtual Economy Hacks

What Else?

I’ll continue updating based on responses to the post and comments here. What do you love? What’s missing?


15 Responses to “Books for Game Designers”

  1. + Made to Stick, Good to Great, The Study of Games (Avedon), Supercrunchers, The Denial of Death, Everything Bad is Good For You, Bird By Bird, A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, My Tiny Life, Play Money, The Mind’s I. ;)


  2. And if I had to pick a Nietzsche… The Gay Science.


  3. Hamlet on the Holodeck


  4. What does RECS mean?


  5. RECS (recommendations) was the number of additional times in the thread the book was mentioned.


  6. + The visual story by bruce bloc, singularly the best book on cinematography I have ever read. Its deconstruction of how to orchestrate aesthetics applies to game design so much that i consider it required reading


  7. Things We Think About Games is also a great book with little zen-like tidbits that make you think better as a designer. It’s a very light read, I enjoyed it very much. Might be good for your list
    http://www.amazon.com/Things-We-Think-About-Games/dp/0981884008


  8. Ernest Adams. Fundamentals of Game Design, 2nd Edition. New Riders, 2009.
    .
    It a comprehensive game design textbook with bits of game history, game design theory, and best practices. The game design concepts discussed include whole chapters on: gameplay, core mechanics, game balancing, and level design. It also includes whole chapters on storytelling, narrative, world design, character design, and design process and documentation. The second half of the book is dedicated to discussing the different game genres in detail.


  9. I’m an animator and I would definitely recommend Disney’s the Illusion of life, Richard William’s Animators Survival Kit. It has very thorough break-downs of how to animate as well as simple, clear and appealing drawings that illustrate the tools and techniques being taught.


  10. Hero With A few Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell


  11. What about I Have no Words & Must Design, by Greg Costikyan, and Art of Computer Game Design, by Chris Crawford. Both of them are very important to anyone who wants to be a game designer.

    By the way, kudos on the first recommendation, Huizinga’s Homo Ludens is a book that EVERYONE in the industry should read.


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