As game developers, we constantly seek knowledge and inspiration to refine our craft and push the boundaries of creativity and technical excellence. Whether you’re a designer, artist, or programmer, immersing yourself in the wisdom found in books can be transformative. Here are some must-read books that cater to various facets of game development.
1. “Game Engine Architecture” by Jason Gregory
In “Game Engine Architecture,” Jason Gregory unpacks the intricate components that make up game engines. This book is comprehensive, covering topics from the basics of game loops and rendering techniques to advanced subjects like animation and network programming. It’s particularly insightful for its deep dives into the components that constitute modern game engines, offering an invaluable perspective for those looking to understand or build their own.
2. “The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses” by Jesse Schell
Jesse Schell’s “The Art of Game Design” is revered for introducing the concept of “lenses,” providing readers with 100 different perspectives to consider when designing a game. This book pushes you to ask the right questions about your game, touching upon every aspect – from storytelling and gameplay to user experience and beyond. Schell’s lenses encourage a thorough and introspective approach to game design, making it a timeless resource for designers.
The book is well-known for introducing “lenses,” which are questions that designers must ask themselves to refine their game designs.
It’s not just a book; it’s a toolkit. Each lens provides a unique viewpoint, helping designers scrutinize their work and enhance every aspect of the game experience. Take a look at it here.
3. “Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” by Jane McGonigal
Jane McGonigal’s “Reality Is Broken” is a compelling narrative about the positive impact of games. McGonigal argues that games fulfill fundamental human needs, and she envisions how this power can be harnessed to address real-world issues. The book is rich with research and insights into the psychological benefits of gaming, offering a hopeful and constructive view on the potential of games to improve individual lives and society at large.
It shifts the perspective on games from mere entertainment to powerful tools for change, offering a refreshing outlook on the impact of games on society and individual lives. McGonigal also has an interesting TED talk about “how gaming can make a better world” that you can watch here. You may also see the book here.
4. “Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals” by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
“Rules of Play” by Salen and Zimmerman is a foundational text in game design, offering a formal framework to understand and evaluate games. The book is academic yet accessible, filled with rich analyses of games through various lenses – from game mechanics and design to the cultural and social significance of games. It’s an essential textbook for anyone seeking a deep, academic understanding of how games function and how they affect players. Here is a link to the Amazon page.
5. “Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design” by Scott Rogers
Scott Rogers, who’s known for his work on hits like ‘God of War’ and ‘Pac-Man World’, brings a wealth of industry experience to “Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design.” This book is a practical guide, filled with insights, tips, and step-by-step instructions on designing a game from scratch. Rogers covers everything from writing compelling narratives to designing challenging levels and creating user-friendly interfaces. It’s an entertaining and practical guide, brimming with valuable advice for designers of all levels. The book can be found here.
6. “Masters of Doom” by David Kushner
“Masters of Doom” is the gripping true story of John Carmack and John Romero, creators of the iconic game Doom. David Kushner dives into their journey, detailing the rise of id Software, the creation of Doom, and the profound impact it had on the gaming industry. The book is a fascinating narrative that reads like a novel, filled with insights into the challenges and triumphs of game development, making it a compelling read not just for game developers but for anyone interested in the history of tech innovation.
Each of these books offers unique perspectives and invaluable insights, proving to be crucial resources for game developers. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to deepen your expertise, these reads are sure to add depth to your understanding and breadth to your skill set in the ever-evolving domain of game development. The book can be found here on Amazon.