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Top 5 Video Game Design Books. Presented by Saljack Enterprises. Gaming. Media & Entertainment.

Like film, music, and novels, one way to grow as a game designer is by immersing yourself in the respective entertainment medium. You should be playing games, both bad and good, to study what elements work and don’t work.
However, for the longest time, the big difference between video games and the other forms of entertainment was the number of available books to help aspiring game designers.
Things have changed now that plenty of great game design books are available to provide more knowledge of what it takes to create interesting games.
Here is the list of top 5 video game design books. Have a look below:

1. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
This is an unusual book that emphasizes studying game design from various perspectives. The author calls these perspectives as ‘lenses’ that covers all the basic game design principles that are beneficial for games of all platforms and genres. The reader is then asked to answer challenging design questions that appear from looking at a game through a particular perspective, pushing you to think about how other people would view your game. The book also guides you through the game design process while explaining each step a designer must take to create their ideas. The author, Jesse Schell, is an award-winning game designer of Disney online games and has also worked as the chair of the International Game Developers Association.
In other words, you can rest easy understanding that this book was written by someone who not only has a lot of game design experience but is very good at it as well.

2. Game Design Workshop
The book also comes with a lot of references to successful games along with useful cases and examples that clearly explain design techniques and methods. The author, Tracy Fullerton, is a game designer who heads the Game Innovation Lab at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

3. Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design
Level Up! is one of the best design book choices to have as a first game design book. The author provides many attractive cartoon art that helps readers get his ideas in a way that is both instructive and approachable
Topics included are monetization, mobile and console systems, design document creation
and much more. While Scott Rogers doesn’t have the same professional experience as authors of other game design books, he nevertheless does a fantastic job of guiding readers about game development from start to end.
If you need a game design book that sells lengthy theoretical language for engaging illustrations, look no further!

4. The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design
This book is a must-have for all the ambitious game designers who also see themselves actively engaged in the storytelling side of development. Readers will learn the exceptional as well as latest techniques and knowledge needed for combining story into their game to craft an emotional and captivating experience. Topics in the book include game script, writing the story, design document, game bible,  and technical content for your game. The authors are John Zurr and Flint Dille, two experienced game developers who have also added examples of their own work for readers to learn from.

5. A Theory of Fun for Game Design
This book is one of the small but effective game design books that invites readers to figure out why games attract human beings.
Combined with the colorful full-page illustrations as well as a deep analysis of modern video games to know why some games are boring while others are enjoyed for years.
Raph Koster, the author of the book, is an experienced game designer who has worked on big hits like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies and served as a creative executive at top companies like Sony Online and Disney Playdom.

Have you read any of these books? Tell us about your favorite book in the comment section or tweet us @essjay_ent!



16 thoughts on “Top 5 Video Game Design Books

  1. Mau says:

    I haven’t read any video game design books but books 4 and 5 (The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design & A Theory of Fun for Game Design) look like good reads. I’m interested in how to create good stories and also the psychology on what makes products attractive so they are books that I’ll be naturally drawn to.

  2. Vanni says:

    I like the book about game writing and design. I’m a scriptwriter so I can totally relate to this book. Haven’t thought about writing for a game but this book might make think about it!

  3. Steve says:

    As with any books, I hope these aren’t chock-full of texts. I am expecting lots of graphics and images as these are game DESIGN books! Lemme google…

  4. roisterous says:

    Any area that relies on knowledge of some kind benefits from studying. This list is a nice compilation of examples, and all books within it are good ideas for interested individuals to read/study.

  5. Easton B. says:

    I totally agree with Wally W. Graphics has been overrated in the past few years. Game graphics are next to useless if the controls are bad or the fun factor just isn’t there. I mean, if I want to frustrate myself, I’d go to work instead! At least that way, I’d be making money!

  6. Wally W. says:

    The #5 on the list is a great read. I always tell anyone who ask me about my game preferences that no matter how great a game’s graphics are, if it is no fun, I won’t buy it. I don’t mind 8-bit looking graphics as long as it can provide hours of entertainment! I’ve been playing Shovel Knight for a couple of days now!

  7. kulinfx says:

    The book mentioned on number 3 is an interesting read. I think I will go and buy the book based on your recommendation.

  8. Jiffy Rando says:

    These are very valuable sources Thanks!!! If I take game design in college I will use this.

  9. light Yagami says:

    Well I am not really into game design. However this will be a good reference.

  10. Therese Baguio says:

    I am interested with The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell. I am 100% sure it’ll be entertaining and informative knowing that he works at Disney. Thanks for the recommendations Cami.

  11. Bianca says:

    You know what, if there are books about the art of Studio Ghibli, I’ll buy them. I wanna make a game based of their artwork. They’re just beautiful!

  12. Charlie says:

    Oh never knew such books existed. Seriously.Will look it up at Barnes & Noble.

  13. Maury Cheskes says:

    These all look like interesting reads. I wonder if there are any books about the business side of the gaming industry and if so which ones would you recommend?

  14. Jason says:

    This is serious gaming business. I need to get my read on!

  15. Rebi says:

    Ooh game design! Looks interesting. Really have to be creative and logical for self-starters.

  16. Rain Santos-Ocampo says:

    I haven’t read any of the books but I think I’d love to learn more about theories of gaming design. Your recommendation of “A Theory of Fun for Game Design” is a good start.

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