DevBlog: Books on Game Design and Production

If you think about starting a career in the gaming industry – be it as an Indie dev or in an established company – it’s a good idea to do some reading first. Here are a few books which helped me not only during my career in gaming, but specifically with my current project, Network Traders.

Books on Game Design

The first book I would like to point you to is The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. Besides being fun to read, Jesse uses so-called lenses to put a spotlight on many different aspects of game design. Each of these more than 100 lenses makes you ask some very specific questions about your game, or game idea. Answering them, you may achieve a game design that is not only fun, but may also persist on today’s highly competitive games market. There is even a companion app for the book summarizing each lense. But be warned, you may be a little puzzled by the questions if you haven’t read the book shortly before.

Another book I enjoyed reading is The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design. It definitely stresses the point that any good game also tells a good story, no matter how abstract it may be. We humans love stories because this is how we learn. And your game will only benefit from a little more depth in story-telling.

Read about Game Production

The first time you write a game on your own, you will jump right in, hacking away on your first prototype. This is as it should be, but once you think about publishing in earnest, a more systematic approach is advisable. The book Game Design und Produktion (in German) by Gunther Rehfeld helped me a lot setting up the Network Traders project. From a vision statement and the game design document to community management, it goes through the whole game production process.

And just recently, I read the book Strategize by Roman Pichler. While it’s not specific to gaming, it is certainly helpful to think about a product strategy. The approaches described here are applicable to any software project. Anyway, having a stable foundation in agile practices is beneficial no matter how large your dev team. Even when working alone, I like to stick to these to give my work some guidance.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list, I hope it points you in a good direction. If you read one, give me some feedback on how you liked it! Either right here, or on Twitter.

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