I love to read, and when I got into game design I started to search for books that would teach and inspire. I found a fair amount of books that relate to game design, and have started to read through them. Here are three books that I recently read, and would recommend.
The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design by Mike Selinker & Co.
This book is a collection of essays from men and women in the game design world and is broken up into four categories: concept, design, development, and presentation. The multiple authors brings in a breath of experience, and I loved that I could search the table of contents for the chapter I was interested in. It’s full of sage advice about playtesting, mechanics, and prototypes. My favorite chapter was “Stealing the Fun” where Dave Howell gives guidelines on how to make your game as fun as possible. He gives out his golden guidelines such as don’t kick a player out before the game is over or don’t reward the leader that explore ways of making your game fun for everyone playing. Overall, this book is excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
The Game Inventor’s Guidebook by Brian Tinsman
This a quirky book that reminds me of the 1990s yet was made in the early 2000s. It’s full of photos, pictures, and weird fonts. The book has some solid information on game design, but also contains lots of history about popular games and the entire game industry. There are big chunks of the book devoted to games, publishers, and game designers that the author feels like every game designer should know about. I’d recommend this to a game designer who is brand new to game design, but to the established game designer I felt like it didn’t have much to offer. Still I’m glad I read it, and I learned interesting tidbits about games and companies within the industry that I didn’t know about.
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
Game Design is art. I’m a firm believer that creating a game from scratch requires creativity, discipline, and some hustle. If you’re like me, it’s easy to get fired up about creating a new game, but struggle to get down to the brass tacks of actually creating it. It’s always easier to dream than it is to put the pen to paper. Pressfield’s book is an inspiration for anyone who considers to be an artist, and explains that it’s a battle to start working. This is one of my favorite books that I read every few years to remind me that it’s time to start turning my ambition and dreams into something real. Here’s one of my favorite quotes…
“Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when struck by inspiration. “I write only when inspiration strikes,” he replied. “Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o’clock sharp.”