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RECOMMENDED READING for Aspiring Game Designers

NOTE: these lessons are primarily aimed at aspiring game designers, but many of the concepts described herein also apply to those who aspire to other types of jobs in the game industry. This lesson is subject to changes and improvements; reader comments are welcome. Most recent update: April, 2019.

Game designers are creative. So I list books on creativity -- and I list creative novels about games to spark the reader's creative thinking.

Game designers work in industry. So I list books about how to survive in industry.

Game design is intricately interwoven with what producers do (well, sort of - but I'm a designer and producer). So I list books about how to manage, and about projects.

Games do not exist in a vacuum -- players use a "language" which was developed in earlier games. So I list books about the history of the game biz.

Programmers are designers too -- one or two books in this list may be addressed to the more technically-minded "designers" of games.

Introduction to Game Development
edited by Steve Rabin
Charles River Media; ISBN: 1-58450-377-7
Reviewer says: An introduction to all aspects of the theory and practice of game development, design, and production. The book, which can be used as a text for introductory courses or as a comprehensive reference for game developers and designers, is divided into seven independent parts. 27 leading game devlopers have contributed chapters. A must-have resource for anyone looking to understand the entire game development process. See also!

Game Design Perspectives
Edited by Francois Dominic Laramee
Paperback - 401 pages, with CD (May, 2002)
Charles River Media; ISBN 1-58450-090-5.
Book Description: This unique compilation of design articles provides designers with insight into how their colleagues approach game design, where they have stumbled, and how they have succeeded. The articles are written by a diverse group of designers with a wide variety of game backgrounds. The topics covered range from proper design documentation, user interfaces, design theory, characters and storytelling, to quality management, platform- and genre-specific design issues, relationships between designers and the user community, and game development project management. If you are just beginning in game design, you'll find new ideas to complement and compare with your own designs. Producers and managers will also benefit from The User Community and Managing a Game Development Business sections.

Secrets of the Game Business
Edited by Francois Dominic Laramee
Paperback - 338 pages (March, 2003)
Charles River Media; ISBN 1-58450-282-7.0
Book Description: Explore the inner workings of the game development and publishing industry through the experiences and insights of industry experts. These publishing executives, developers, veteran producers, designers, owners of independent studios, and academics have written a unique collection of articles that really delves into the intricacies of the business. A must-have resource for anyone interested in starting a game development studio or improving an existing one.

David Perry on Game Design; A Brainstorming Toolbox
by David Perry, Rusel DeMaria
Charles River Media ; ISBN-10: 1584506687. ISBN-13: 978-1584506683
The author says: It's the biggest book on game design ever written, at over 1,000 pages long. It's designed to help students & designers come up with innovative new ideas, and also to expand current ideas.

The Game Production Handbook
by Heather Chandler
Publisher: Charles River Media; ISBN: 1-58450-416-1
Book Description: Written by a veteran game producer, The Game Production Handbook is the ultimate industry reference. It answers the questions new leads, managers, and producers have, and it gives the pros new insights and valuable tips to improve their existing processes.

Serious Games: Games That Educate, Train, and Inform
by Sande Chen & David Michael
Publisher: Course Technology PTR; ISBN: 1592006221
Book Description: "Serious Games: Games that Educate, Train, and Inform" will help you learn how to take what you've learned in making games for fun and apply it to making "serious games": games for education, training, healing, and more. It will provide an overview of all of the major markets for serious games. This overview will include examples of what has been done with video games in these markets, and what is anticipated in the future, including market scope, goals of each emerging market, game types offering greatest potential, the shortest route to market by category, development budgets by category, and barriers for developers to consider.

Game Design Workshop: Designing, Prototyping, and Playtesting Games
by Tracy Fullerton
Publisher: Morgan Kaufmann; 3rd edition (2014)
ISBN-13: 978-1482217162
ISBN-10: 1482217163
The publisher of 1st edition says: Master the craft of game design so you can create that elusive combination of challenge, competition, and interaction that players seek. This design workshop begins with an examination of the fundamental elements of game design; then puts you to work in prototyping, playtesting, and redesigning your own games with exercises that teach essential design skills.
Disclaimer: I wrote a sidebar in this book, and this book is used in game classes at the university where I teach.

A Theory of Fun for Game Design
by Raph Koster
O'Reilly Media; 2 edition (December 2, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1449363210
ISBN-13: 978-1449363215
Now in full color, the 10th anniversary edition of this classic book takes you deep into the influences that underlie modern video games, and examines the elements they share with traditional games such as checkers. At the heart of his exploration, veteran game designer Raph Koster takes a close look at the concept of fun and why itís the most vital element in any game.

Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams On Game Design
by Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams (duh)
New Riders; ISBN 76092-02300.
What people are saying about this book: "This book sets the record straight as to what 'game design' is and why it's important." - Tom Sloper; President, Sloperama Productions.
Also see Ernest Adams' website, at

Game Design
by Bob Bates
Thomson Course Technology ; ISBN: 1-59200-493-8
The publisher says: A behind-the-scenes look at how a game gets designed and developed - from the day the idea is born to the day the box hits the shelves.

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
by Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman
The MIT Press ; ISBN: 0-262-24045-9
The publisher says: A much-needed primer for this emerging field. A unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games.

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses
by Jesse Schell
Just Google it - you might find a PDF.

The Indie Game Development Survival Guide
by David Michael
Publisher: Charles River Media; ISBN: 1584502142.

Game Design: Theory and Practice (With CD-ROM)
by Richard Rouse, Steve Ogden (Illustrator), Mark Louis Rybczyk
Paperback - 500 pages Bk&Cd-Rom edition (February 15, 2001)
Wordware Publishing; ISBN: 1556227353 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.61 x 9.23 x 7.54
Book Description:
Richard Rouse discusses in detail key game design topics including game balancing, storytelling, non-linearity, player motivations, input/output, artificial intelligence, level design, and playtesting. This book delves into the entire breadth of interactive games, covering computer, console, and arcade titles, and spanning a variety of game genres including strategy, adventure, simulation, action, role-playing, sports, and wargames.

Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Today's Popular Culture Is Actually Making Us Smarter
by Steven Johnson
Publisher: Riverhead. ISBN: 1573223077
Amazon says: Science writer Steven Johnson... takes on one of the most widely held preconceptions of the postmodern world--the belief that video games, television shows, and other forms of popular entertainment are detrimental to Americans' cognitive and moral development. Everything Good builds a case to the contrary that is engaging, thorough, and ultimately convincing.

Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence
by Gerard Jones
Basic Books ; ISBN: 0-4650-3696-1
The Weekly Standard says: An original and surprising book that tries to cut through parental and societal hysteria regarding childhood play.... Intellectually daring and honest, overflowing with fascinating and challenging arguments.

Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution
by Steven Poole
Hardcover - 256 pages 1 Us Ed edition (September 2000)
Arcade Publishing; ISBN: 1559705396 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.96 x 9.56 x 6.39
(Also published by 4th estate ( That ISBN no. is: 1-84115-121-1)
Editorial Reviews (
A writer and composer, Poole makes the case that video games--like films and popular music--deserve serious critical treatment: "The inner life of video games--how they work--is bound up with the inner life of the player. And the player's response to a well-designed video game is in part the same sort of response he or she has to a film, or to a painting: it is an aesthetic one." Trigger Happy is packed with references not just to games and game history but also to writers and theorists who may never have played a video game in their lives, from Adorno and Benjamin to Plato.

The Mythical Man-Month, Anniversary Edition: Essays on Software Engineering
by Frederick P. Brooks (Paperback - July 1995)
Paperback - 336 pages 2nd edition (July 1995)
Addison-Wesley Pub Co; ISBN: 0201835959 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.07 x 6.11 says:
The classic book on the human elements of software engineering. Software tools and development environments may have changed in the 21 years since the first edition of this book, but the peculiarly nonlinear economies of scale in collaborative work and the nature of individuals and groups has not changed an epsilon. If you write code or depend upon those who do, get this book as soon as possible -- from Books, your library, or anyone else. You (and/or your colleagues) will be forever grateful. Very Highest Recommendation.
Why I included this book in the list --
This is recommended reading for anyone involved in a project-oriented business like the business of making electronic games. The Mythical Man-Month teaches us that we can't just throw more bodies at a project. The old adage is true: "Which do you want? Cheaper? Faster? or Good? You can't have all three (you can only have two)."

The Peter Principle: Why Things Always Go Wrong
by Laurence J. Peter, Raymond Hull
Paperback - 192 pages (September 1, 1998)
Harpercollins; ISBN: 0688275443 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.57 x 8.20 x 5.25
Book Description:
This bestselling business classic of more than twenty-five years' duration is a dead-on account of why boredom, bungling, and bad management are built into every organization. Through hilarious case histories and cartoons adapted from Punch, Dr. Peter shows how America's corporate career track drives employees relentlessly upward -- until they get promoted into jobs they just can't do and wind up desperately treading water, driving their colleagues crazy, and dragging down productivity and profit.
Why I included this book in the list --
The Peter Principle and Parkinson's Law (below) both approach some of the same ideas presented in The Mythical Man-Month, with a humorous twist. The worst thing a designer could do is read The Mythical Man-Month and then angrily accuse his bosses of stupidity. This book helps you see the humor in the real world.

Parkinson's Law
by C. Northcote Parkinson
Library Binding (December 1996)
Buccaneer Books; ISBN: 1568490151 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.63 x 8.78 x 5.69
Reviewer: Doug Vaughn from Washington, DC
Great wisdom in a small package.
Parkinson's Law briefly stated is that 'work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.' If it doesn't seem that an entire book could be written about this thesis then you haven't encountered the imaginative genius and the stinging comic wit of C. Northcote Parkinson. He is able to use this little insight as an analytic tool to expose much of what is wrong with organizations and why much in both business and government seems at odds with common sense. For example, why the British Colonial Office has grown in number of employees as the actual number of colonies declined - so that it employed more people when the number of colonies had been reduced to zero than when they were at their highest number. Witty, brilliant and always right on the money, Parkinson can make what should be deadly dull - a description of bureaucracy - into a delightful excursion through the halls of pompus human folly. Really great stuff. This book is a classic and can be read and reread with great pleasure.
Why I included this book in the list --
Same reason as for The Peter Principle, above.

How to Work for a Jerk
by Robert M. Hochheiser
Out of print but you can get it used via
ASIN: 0394747771
Book Description:
Shows how you can get what you want despite the barriers above you. Describes ways to deal with your boss and make your happiness crucial to his success.
Why I included this book in the list -- You WILL find yourself disagreeing with how your boss does things, or how he orders you to do things, or what he writes about you in your reviews. This excellent book shows you about the different personality types, helps you identify your boss's type (and your own type) and shows you ways to change your own thinking about working for that guy. (You can't change him, but you can change your approach.)

Difficult People : How To Deal With Impossible Clients, Bosses and Employees
by Roberta Cava
Paperback - 192 pages (March 1997)
Firefly Books; ISBN: 1552091252 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.59 x 8.93 x 5.79
Ingram says:
Shows how to deal with angry customers, annoying subordinates, difficult co-workers, and cantankerous bosses by becoming an effective communicator and understanding different personality types. Original.
Nasty customer? Boss on the rampage? Uncooperative colleagues?
"[This book] is full of strategies to control your anger and improve your skills when dealing with impossible clients and employees." --Business97 magazine
At one time or another, everyone has to deal with irate, rude, impatient or aggressive people in the workplace. "Difficult People" is the book for learning how to handle these stressful situations and how to diffuse tensions calmly and professionally. Author Roberta Cava outlines the useful techniques that will help...
Why I included this book in the list --
I haven't read this one, but Amazon recommended it. Each author who writes on a particular topic takes a different angle on things. This book will help you deal not only with your boss, but that producer who (so it seems) is bent on screwing things up, and that tester who (so it seems) is being overly picky about your design, or... but you get the idea.

The Design of Everyday Things
by Donald A. Norman
Publisher: Basic Books; ISBN: 0465067107 (reprint)
A big part of game design is the psychology of the user and how the user will interact with the game. This book is an eye-opener and if you want to design games you need to read it!

Emotional Design: Why we love (or hate) everyday things
by Don Norman
Publisher: ____ ; ISBN: ___;
About this book: Product design and user interface design are important things for a game designer to know about. That's why I recommend aspiring designers study psychology. This book even has a section on games.

The Art of Human-Computer Interface Design
edited by Brenda Laurel.
An extremely important part of electronic games is how the player interacts with the machine on which the game resides.

The Game Inventor's Handbook (2nd Edition - Original title: Game Plan)
by Steve Peek
1993, Better Way Books; ISBN 1-55870-315-2
Amazon may or may not have used copies available. I got my copy through for $14.95 US. I hear that the book sells for high prices in some locales.
Newsgroup poster RG9437 wrote (square brackets added by me) that this book:
...takes you through the process of getting your game published from start to finish. It has a lot of good practical advice concerning how to write a proposal, self-publishing, advertising and so forth. It was published during the [early 1990's prior to the internet becoming a household word], so it doesn't include anything like using PC's, the internet, or international marketing. But all in all a very good resource.

Kick-Ass Creativity: An Energy Makeover for Artists, Explorers, and Creative Professionals
by Mary Beth Maziarz
Hampton Roads Publishing ; ISBN-10: 1571746218; ISBN-13: 978-1571746214.
Review: After exploring the concept of energy--how it works, how it affects us, and how we can use it to our advantage--Maziarz moves on to real-life applications, encouraging readers to examine their wants and desires as well as the self-imposed roadblocks that keep them from their goals. Peppered with quizzes that challenge readers to examine their motivations and struggles, Maziarz helps creative types attack their roadblocks from multiple angles. - Publishers Weekly, © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative
by Roger Von Oech, George Willett (Illustrator)
Paperback - 232 pages Revised edition (December 1998)
Warner Books; ISBN: 0446674559 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.72 x 9.02 x 6.05
Other Editions: Cards
Ingram says:
The Best-Selling Creativity Classic Enhanced and Revised for the 21st Century! For years one book has been used von Oech's classic work on creativity is back --and better than ever-- with more bright ideas and expanding exercises to bring its famous innovation boosters to a new generation.
"Very refreshing . . . a book about how to get through life!" --Richard Bolles, author of "What Color Is Your Parachute?"
Why I included this book in the list --
An AWESOME eye-opener. I read this one when I was just starting out as a designer, and it helped me tremendously. This one is still in my library, and I've also bought (and kept) (and highly recommend) these other things by Roger Von Oech too...

A Kick in the Seat of the Pants: Using Your Explorer, Artist, Judge and Warrior to Be More Creative
by Roger Von Oech
Paperback - 160 pages 1st Ed. edition (February 1986)
HarperCollins (paper); ISBN: 0060960248 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.54 x 10.47 x 7.54
Bob Metcalfe, Chairman, 3Com Corp., says:
"In A Whack on the Side of the Head we looked at getting ideas through play; in A Kick in the Seat of the Pants we look at the four roles of the creative process."

Creative Whack Pack
by Roger Von Oech (Creator)
Cards edition (January 1990)
United States Games Systems; ISBN: 0880793589 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.90 x 4.84 x 3.18
Ingram says:
An illustrated deck of 64 creative thinking strategies to enhance every player's creativity. Complete instructions are included with cards.

Conceptual Blockbusting : A Guide to Better Ideas
by James L. Adams
Paperback 3rd edition (October 1990) Perseus Pr; ISBN: 0201550865 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.51 x 9.18 x 6.17
Book Description
The best-selling guide to overcoming creative blocks and unleashing a torrent of great ideas-updated for a new generation of problem solvers. James Adams's unique approach to generating ideas and solving problems has captivated, inspired, and guided thousands of people from all walks of life. Now, twenty-five years after its original publication, Conceptual Blockbusting has never been more relevant, powerful, or fresh. Integrating insights from the worlds of psychology, engineering, management, art, and philosophy, Adams identifies the key blocks (perceptual, emotional, cultural, environmental, intellectual, and expressive) that prevent us from realizing the full potential of our fertile minds. Employing unconventional exercises and other interactive elements, Adams shows individuals, teams, and organizations how to overcome these blocks, embrace alternative ways of thinking about complex problems, and celebrate the joy of creativity.
Glenn adds:
It's apparently relevant enough to still be in print after 25 years.

Phoenix: The Fall & Rise of Videogames
by Leonard Herman (Introduction)
Availability: This title is currently out of print. However, you can buy it used now.
ASIN: 0964384825 ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.74 x 8.42 x 5.50
Ian Christe (Wired) says:
...a definitive temporal overview of joystick jiggling, covering the ups and downs of the phenomenon ... Herman treats popular favorites and dismal flops with even-handed reverence, rarely injecting opinion that could color the facts in any way.

Dream Park
by Larry Niven, Steven Barnes
Availability: This title is currently out of stock. However, you can buy it used now.
Paperback Reissue edition (September 1988)
Ace Books; ISBN: 0441167306
Reviewer: gunter97 from Ontario, Canada:
Fantastic book in a fantastic world.
A complex murder mystery set in a futuristic theme park where attendees can participate in one of the most involved role-playing games of all time. The authors manage to weave a gripping mystery around a detailed near-future Earth without ever breaking the readers suspension of disbelief. The dual threads of the murder and the story-within-a-story of the South Seas Game are masterfully interwoven; the authors give you all the information you need to solve the crime without ever revealing the criminal untill the very end.
I, too, made the mistake of lending this book to a friend, never to be seen again. If you see this book, grab it!
Why I included this book in the list --
Do I have to explain? Read the review from gunter97 above. Trust me, you WANT to read this one!

Ender's Game
by Orson Scott Card
Mass Market Paperback - 324 pages Reprint edition (July 1994)
Tor Books; ISBN: 0812550706 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.04 x 6.77 x 4.20
New York Times says:
Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses -- and then training them in the arts of war... The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games'... Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games... He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?
Winner of both HUGO and NEBULA awards!
Why I included this book in the list --
This is a book about a gamer who becomes a warrior. How often have you heard that videogames are like training simulators for fighter pilots? You gotta read this one. Card wrote a number of other books about Ender Wiggin and the program of which he was a part. Those too are well worth reading if you're an aspiring game designer.

by William Gibson
Used copies, hardcover and paperback, available on Amazon.
You simply mustn't go into the game industry and not know about "jacking in" and the other story elements of this seminal work about a possible future of the Internet and games.

Snow Crash
by Neal Stephenson
Paperback - 440 pages Reprint edition (May 2, 2000)
Bantam Doubleday Dell Pub (Trd Pap); ISBN: 0553380958 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.24 x 9.04 x 6.01
Other Editions: Audio Cassette (Abridged), Audio Cassette (Unabridged) says:
From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city-states, and the Internet--incarnate as the Metaverse--looks something like last year's hype would lead you to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist--hacker, samurai swordsman, and pizza-delivery driver. When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what's a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow Crash interweaves everything from Sumerian myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse. Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible.
Why I included this book in the list --
Read this and start thinking about the future. That's all I'm saying.

by Michael Crichton
Mass Market Paperback - 497 pages Reprint edition (October 1994)
Ballantine Books; ISBN: 0345391055 ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.10 x 6.88 x 4.19
Book Description:
"Expertly crafted, ingenious and absorbing." - The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The #1 Bestseller by the author of "Jurassic Park." As he did in "Rising Sun," Crichton focuses on a topic as close as today's newspaper headlines: sexual harassment.
Tom Sanders is an up-and-coming executive at the computer firm DigiCom. When his new boss turns out to be a woman who is both his former lover and a business rival, Sanders determines to be professional. But after a closed-door meeting, the woman accuses him of sexual harassment. It's her word against his, and suddenly Sanders finds himself caught in a nightmarish web of deceit in which he is branded as the villian. As he scrambles to save his career and his reputation, Sanders uncovers an electronic trail into DigiCom's secrets . . . and the cynical scheme devised to bring him down.
Why I included this book in the list --
The scenes where Tom Sanders goes into the virtual reality created by DigiCom are thought-provoking. Interesting consideration of user interfaces. And there's a glimpse into the manufacturing process, and boardroom politics.

Game Over: How Nintendo Zapped an American Industry, Captured Your Dollars, & Enslaved Your Children
by David Sheff
Hardcover (June 1993)
DIANE Publishing Co; ISBN: 0788163205
Reviewer: James Cope from Sierra Vista, AZ USA
Despite the title, that's basically what this book covers. From Nintendo's origins as a tobacco and card company in the late 1800's to the video game superpower that it was in the 80's and early 90's. I guess in that respect, this book is THE RIGHT STUFF of the growth-of-Nintendo books. I had to flick off a star because I had to read a part of this twice. I started reading it, got halfway, then had to quit for some reason. But I did make a point of returning to this fascinating book and finishing it. If you are (or were) a big fan of Nintendo, or are interested in the video game industry, then by all means read this book. Like I say, it's more of a history lesson than an anti-video game book. In fact, the dedication at the beginning is about as anti-video game as this book gets. Personally, I love video games, although I will admit that sometimes they are mindless and get out of hand. But it's the PARENTS' responsibility to teach their kids MORALS, instead of giving them 40 dollars to go do with as they please.

Behind the Scenes at Sega: The Making of a Video Game (Secrets of the Games)
by Nicholas Lavroff
Availability: This title is currently out of print. However, you can order it used now.
ASIN: 1559585250
Ingram says:
Video game aficionados take a guided tour behind the scenes at Sega to learn what goes into creating their favorite games. Following a brief history of the evolution of video games, readers get an inside look at plotting, programming, animation, and production. 8-page full-color insert.
Why I included this book in the list --
I used to work with the author! (^_^) Besides, I used to work at Sega. And I included a book about Nintendo, so what the heck. I've been meaning to get a copy.

The Game Makers; The Story of Parker Brothers, From Tiddledy Winks to Trivial Pursuit
by Philip E. Orbanes
HBS Press, 2004 USA. ; ISBN: ISBN 1-59139-269-1.
Brief but powerfully important section on mah-jongg. Discusses details of how many other important table games came to be

The Game Inventor's Guidebook
by Brian Tinsman (designer and developer for Wizards of the Coast)
Publisher: Krause Publications; ISBN: 0-87349-552-7;
Book Description ( Publications):
This practical how-to guide explains the step-by-step process inventors follow to publish role-playing games, collectible card games, miniature games, board games, "and everything in between."

Paid to Play: The Business of Game Design
by Keith Meyers
[Publisher TBD] ; ISBN: TBD
The author says: I've just finished my book, but it won't be out until mid-November [2008]... IMHO, it is the only book that gives a step-by-step plan for getting your [table] game to market. Should be about the same size and cost as Brian [Tinsman]'s book [above]. Info here...

The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook
by Richard C. Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner
Alpha ; ISBN: 1-59257-062-3
Everything you need to know to pitch, license, and cash-in on your ideas. From the co-developer of Furby and the former VP of product acquisition at Hasbro Games.

The Emotional Toolbox
by Laurie Hutzler
Publisher: Laurie Hutzler, at ; ISBN: ___
Sloper says: Game designers and game writers would do well to make emotion important in their games. Laurie Hutzler has both a downloadable e-Book and a regular email newsletter. Well worth it.

Character Development and Storytelling for Games
by Lee Sheldon
Publisher: Premier Press (Thomson/Course Technology), 2004 ; ISBN: ___
Reviewer says: The book covers writing and design for single-player and multi-player games on both personal computers and consoles.

Creating Emotion in Games
by David Freeman
Publisher: New Riders, 2004 ; ISBN: 1-5927-3007-8
I say: How to make players feel feelings for game characters through dialogue and visual symbols.

The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure For Writers
by Christopher Vogler
Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions; ISBN 0-941188-70-1
I say: The principles described by Vogler and Campbell are A MUST for anyone who designs games and/or writes stories.
Book Description (back cover):
Writers are storytellers. The best of them have utilized the principles of myth to create masterful stories that are dramatic, entertaining, and psychologically true. Based on the work of Joseph Campbell, this... edition provides an insider's look at how writers... can utilize mythic structure to create powerful narratives. Writers will discover step-by-step guidelines for structuring plots and creating realistic characters.

Understanding Comics
by Scott McCloud
Paperback - 224 pages Reprint edition (May 1994)
Kitchen Sink Press; ISBN: 006097625X ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.55 x 10.19 x 6.77 says:
A comic book about comic books. McCloud, in an incredibly accessible style, explains the details of how comics work: how they're composed, read and understood. More than just a book about comics, this gets to the heart of how we deal with visual languages in general. "The potential of comics is limitless and exciting!" writes McCloud. This should be required reading for every school teacher. Pulitzer Prize-winner Art Spiegelman says, "The most intelligent comics I've seen in a long time."
ALSO by Scott McCloud: Reinventing Comics
Why I included this book in the list --
Expand your mind a little. Consider the similarity between the "language" of comics and the "language" of games. Besides, confess: you were a big comic fan, right? Maybe you still are! Books about the filmmaking process would also be a good read, if you find this one as useful as I did.

Patent, Copyright & Trademark; An Intellectual Property Desk Reference
by Stephen Elias & Richard Stim. (Nolo Press), ISBN 0-87337-601-3
More extremely important stuff. If you are making a game, as either a designer, programmer, or producer, you need to be knowledgeable on law as regards to intellectual property. I can't recommend this book highly enough!

The Copyright HandBook: How to Protect & Use Written Works
by Stephen Fishman. (Nolo Press), ISBN 0-87337-548-3
Extremely important stuff for writers, designers, producers, and webmasters. Another must-have.

Get In The Game
by Marc Mencher
A guide for how to break into the game industry. Use this and the following in addition to the articles here on my site.

Break Into the Game Industry: How to Get a Job Making Video Games
by Ernest Adams
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media. ISBN: 0072226609.
Also see Ernest Adams' website, at

The information about ISBN numbers and book sizes all comes from (except for the two Nolo books which I added in October 2001). You may find the same book with a different ISBN number or size in another place (depending on which printing you find). The book descriptions also are mostly courtesy of, with reviewer credit whenever Amazon gave it. In many cases, I've added my own thoughts (but only in regards to books I've actually read myself). is the best resource for books on legal matters (such as intellectual property law).

I edited this FAQ in May, 2007 to streamline it and shorten it. It was too long, and included numerous books on the recommendations of readers - mostly books that I've never read and are outside my areas of interest. And there was an icon system that I'd used at the beginning but stopped using as new books were added. So in May '07 I deleted the old icon system, deleted a lot of books I don't really care about or know much about, and added one e-Book. Later updates are logged here.

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