The Art of Game Design book cover

The Art of Game Design

A book of lenses

Anyone can master the fundamentals of game design – no technological expertise is necessary. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses shows that the same basic principles of psychology that work for board games, card games and athletic games also are the keys to making top-quality videogames. Good game design happens when you view your game from many different perspectives, or lenses. While touring through the unusual territory that is game design, this book gives the reader one hundred of these lenses – one hundred sets of insightful questions to ask yourself that will help make your game better. These lenses are gathered from fields as diverse as psychology, architecture, music, visual design, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, writing, puzzle design, and anthropology. Anyone who reads this book will be inspired to become a better game designer – and will understand how to do it.

Audience
Everyone in the game industry is involved with game design on one level or another- every contribution of content to a game is part of the design. Those with the title of Game Designer will be most interested, but this text will also be of interest to all those involved in the game development process, including game programmers, game artists, game producers, etc.

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Published: August 2008

Imprint: Morgan Kaufmann

ISBN: 978-0-12-369496-6

Reviews

  • "If you’re nineteen and have no idea why you adore videogames - you’re just enchanted by them, you can’t help yourself - dude, is this ever the book for you. You are the core demographic for this particular textual experience. Put down the hand-controller, read the book right now. I can promise you that you will grow in moral and intellectual stature…. Instead of remaining a twitchy, closeted, joystick geek, like you are now, you will emerge from this patient master-class as a surprisingly broadminded adult who quotes Herman Hesse and appreciates improvisational theater and Impressionist painting. You will no longer kill off parties with your Warcraft fixation. Instead, other people your age will find themselves mysteriously drawn to you - to your air of quiet sympathy, your contemplative depth. Wise beyond your years, you will look beyond the surface details of shrieking monsters and into the deeper roots of human experience…. Schell’s creative approach is full of autarchic frontier self-reliance. Out there on Tomorrowland’s Gameification Frontier, a theorist intellectual has to slaughter his own hogs and parse Aristotle’s Poetics on the back of a shovel. But boy, it sure is roomy over there. It’s a large, free, democratic book. It’s Emersonian in its cheery disorganization. The book’s like a barbaric yawp from the top of a Nintendo console…. I’d read it now, before things get out of hand." - Bruce Sterling on Wired.com’s "Beyond the Beyond" blog

    "As indicated by its title, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses uses many different perspectives (the titular lenses) which each prompt their own important questions, ranging from "What problems does my game ask the players to solve?" to "What does beauty mean within the context of my game?" These distinct points are interwoven throughout a step-by-step analysis of the design process that begins with the designer and his or her basic idea, and builds successfully from there. As with Rules of Play, the wealth of information presented by The Art of Game Design may seem daunting at first, but Schell's agreeable voice eases the reader into a series of invaluable angles we can (and should) use to evaluate what we play."--1up.com


Contents

  • Introduction; The History of Games; The Most Important Skill; Holographic Design; The Cycle of Design; Excerpt: Lehman and Witty: The Psychology of Play (1927); The Psychology of Play; The Spectrum of Humanity; Excerpt: Julian Jaynes: The Orgin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, Chapter One: The Consciousness of Consciousness; The Subconscious Mind Part I: The Player; Excerpt: Salvador Dali: Fifty Secrets of Magic Craftsmanship: Secret Number Three: Slumber With a Key; The Subconscious Mind Part II: The Designer; Essay: Greg Costikyan: I Have No Words and I Must Design; What is a Game?; The Elements of Game Mechanics; Toy Design; State and State Change; Skill and Chance; Decisions; Feedback- The Heart of Interactivity; Interfaces; Patterns of Rewards; Game Balancing; Case Study: Deconstructing Pac-Man; Essay: Scott Kim: What is a Puzzle?; Puzzle Principles; The Psychology of Story; Interactive Stories: The Promise and the Problem; Story and Gameplay- The Conflict and Solution; Story and Game Worlds; Lessons from Tabletop RPGs; Essay: Henry Jenkins: Transmedia Worlds; Transmedia Worlds; Excerpt: Scott McCloud: The Vocabulary of Comics (from Understanding Comics); Characters in Games; Excerpts: (various) Christopher Alexander: A Pattern Language; Architecture in Games (Level Design); Elegance; Character in Games; Essay: Brian Moriarty: The Point; Social Principles in Multiplayer Games; Online Communities; Technology; Iteration; Playtesting; Brainstorming; Team Communication; Design Documents; Business; The Art of the Pitch; Excerpt: Mills Penny Arcade (1920); Location Based Entertainment; Serious Games; The Ethics of Games; The Deepest Theme; The Future; Your Secret Responsibility

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