I’m starting my next side project: to read as much as possible on the topic of game design AND to engage with that writing critically. Specifically, I plan to read books on game design and related disciplines as a supplement to my main source of information: articles, talks, conferences, and chats with other designers.
A few months ago I started collecting books on game design, film, art, narrative, digital media, technology, history, psychology, anthropology, economics, architecture, and so on. These books range among introductions to the medium, specialist texts for working professionals, and academic texts on critical theory.
This collection isn’t complete. As of the time of this post, I have about a hundred more I haven’t picked up yet, some other sources of recommendations I need to go through, and several more books that will be published by the time I am done with these.
My plan is to first read the basic textbooks about game design – both textbooks written by game designers and foundational academic texts on games and play. Once I get passed that base, I’ll start branching out into sub-topics, like social/community/multiplayer, or strategy/competition, or level design/architecture. That’s also when I’ll start grabbing more books to add to my library and fielding more recommendations. I also have a large collection of academic writing, but haven’t decided when or how I’ll integrate it into my reading.
My List of Books
I’ll keep this list up to date, with the first column listing the status of the book and replaced with links to my reviews as I write them.
You’ll find my reviews under the Game Design Library category on my blog (and I’ll number each one and use tags to help categorize topics, too). Each book will get its own post, but I’ll do separate articles to address specific ideas I found interesting or to compare and contrast how different authors approach the same concepts.
I expect this will be a long-term project. I read quickly – about 2-3 books a month – but I write slowly. I expect to read and review about 20 books a year (maybe more if I can figure out how to edit myself…).
If you want to recommend a book not already on the list…
Please check it against my wishlist of books I haven’t bought yet to make sure I don’t already have a record of it. Feel free to leave a comment below with new ones with a brief reason why it’s important and I may add it to my list. I am particularly looking for books written from outside of the American perspective so if you know of any please share (this includes but in no way limited to games history and culture in Japan or Europe).
I may eventually open up my list to voting if there’s a specific book that people would like to see a review of, but for now I have a pretty solid plan in place to keeps me busy up through April.