How to Become A Game Designer- Part 5

Reading Materials

While I’d like the budding game designers out there to consider the advice I’ve laid out in these blogs, don’t by any means take these posts to be a comprehensive guide for game design. I wrote these posts to be but the tip of the iceberg; the jumping-off point for those who wanted some guidance on how and where to develop game design skills. On the road to becoming a good game designer you’ll consume masses of information about many different subjects, but there are a number of sources I recommend very highly for the study of game design specifically.

I’ve already mentioned Gamasutra which is a very well written site focusing on the video game industry itself and even has its own specific section for game design. The articles are often lengthy but that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone prepared to read the amount a game designer has too.

The blog Design Reboot, while not widely recognised, is one I’ve found to be an interesting resource for in-depth looks at the world of game design.

This one is actually more of a viewing material than a reading material but The Escapist’s series of videos Extra Credits provides short but valuable looks at the various aspects of video games. There are many video series on the internet talking about modern video games but Extra Credits approaches games with a very designer-oriented perspective and a wonderful understanding of game design.

The book ‘ Patterns in Game Design’ by Staffan Bjork and Jussi Holopainen can be a useful resource for game designers, although it should be noted that it’s more of a list of possible elements to add to your game than a book teaching how to design games on the whole. It’s a very dry work and really serves as a sort of dictionary for game designers.

 Short and enjoyable but very informative.

I feel obliged to comment on ‘ A Theory of Fun for Game Design’ by Raph Koster as I referenced it at the start of this series of blogs. While it’s written by a game designer, the book is less about directly learning how to design games, and more about learning about the concept of fun and how it relates to games. It’s still an excellent read for those looking for a game designer’s perspective on how fun works.

Although I can’t vouch for the quality of the book myself ‘ Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals’ by Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen has earned itself a good reputation, and the way I see it anything written by Zimmerman has to be of some considerable worth. For a quick peek at what it presents you can check out the Wikipedia page on it.

The one book that I feel I must praise above all others though is ‘ The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses’ by Jesse Schell. I have some considerable difficulty summarising why this book is so noteworthy as I feel as though I could gush about it for page after page. Every time I read this book I came away inspired, it really is like a Bible of game design. Schell displays an amazingly in-depth knowledge of the grinding cogs behind video games, as well as a great understanding of the creative process in general. The book also aims to teach the reader of 100 different perspectives Schell has developed for looking at the games they’ve created. I really can’t recommend this enough.

If you want to find other books on game design Amazon and Gamedev.net also have listings on many books on the subject of game design.

A Final Summary

 Let's take one last look back.

We’ve gone through a lot of information over the past few blogs and it might all be a bit much to take in so as we wind down I think now is a good time to recap and summarise what you need to do to be a game designer:

  • Look at what game design is really about and decide whether it’s actually for you.
  • Research the “essential” subjects.
  • Always be learning and experiencing new things.
  • Love game design.
  • Always be practising game design.
  • Find and follow a viable path to the job of game designer.
  • Keep a good portfolio.
  • Make friends with other game developers.
  • Always be on the lookout for jobs.
  • Read up on game design.


Duder, It's Really Over

This brings us to the conclusion of this series of blogs. I’d like to sincerely thank all of you who’ve read and commented on these blogs as I have put a considerable amount of time and effort into writing them. When I started working on these blogs I originally intended them to be a single blog I’d upload to the site, and didn’t envisage them turning into the 6,800+ words that they eventually grew into, but I hope you’ve enjoyed all of it. I’d also like to thank my friend NinjaDuckie who helped proof-read and give feedback on the earlier drafts of these blogs, and Dudeglove who showed me Design Reboot. Good luck, have game design.

-Gamer_152

13 Comments
14 Comments
Posted by Gamer_152

Reading Materials

While I’d like the budding game designers out there to consider the advice I’ve laid out in these blogs, don’t by any means take these posts to be a comprehensive guide for game design. I wrote these posts to be but the tip of the iceberg; the jumping-off point for those who wanted some guidance on how and where to develop game design skills. On the road to becoming a good game designer you’ll consume masses of information about many different subjects, but there are a number of sources I recommend very highly for the study of game design specifically.

I’ve already mentioned Gamasutra which is a very well written site focusing on the video game industry itself and even has its own specific section for game design. The articles are often lengthy but that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone prepared to read the amount a game designer has too.

The blog Design Reboot, while not widely recognised, is one I’ve found to be an interesting resource for in-depth looks at the world of game design.

This one is actually more of a viewing material than a reading material but The Escapist’s series of videos Extra Credits provides short but valuable looks at the various aspects of video games. There are many video series on the internet talking about modern video games but Extra Credits approaches games with a very designer-oriented perspective and a wonderful understanding of game design.

The book ‘ Patterns in Game Design’ by Staffan Bjork and Jussi Holopainen can be a useful resource for game designers, although it should be noted that it’s more of a list of possible elements to add to your game than a book teaching how to design games on the whole. It’s a very dry work and really serves as a sort of dictionary for game designers.

 Short and enjoyable but very informative.

I feel obliged to comment on ‘ A Theory of Fun for Game Design’ by Raph Koster as I referenced it at the start of this series of blogs. While it’s written by a game designer, the book is less about directly learning how to design games, and more about learning about the concept of fun and how it relates to games. It’s still an excellent read for those looking for a game designer’s perspective on how fun works.

Although I can’t vouch for the quality of the book myself ‘ Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals’ by Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen has earned itself a good reputation, and the way I see it anything written by Zimmerman has to be of some considerable worth. For a quick peek at what it presents you can check out the Wikipedia page on it.

The one book that I feel I must praise above all others though is ‘ The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses’ by Jesse Schell. I have some considerable difficulty summarising why this book is so noteworthy as I feel as though I could gush about it for page after page. Every time I read this book I came away inspired, it really is like a Bible of game design. Schell displays an amazingly in-depth knowledge of the grinding cogs behind video games, as well as a great understanding of the creative process in general. The book also aims to teach the reader of 100 different perspectives Schell has developed for looking at the games they’ve created. I really can’t recommend this enough.

If you want to find other books on game design Amazon and Gamedev.net also have listings on many books on the subject of game design.

A Final Summary

 Let's take one last look back.

We’ve gone through a lot of information over the past few blogs and it might all be a bit much to take in so as we wind down I think now is a good time to recap and summarise what you need to do to be a game designer:

  • Look at what game design is really about and decide whether it’s actually for you.
  • Research the “essential” subjects.
  • Always be learning and experiencing new things.
  • Love game design.
  • Always be practising game design.
  • Find and follow a viable path to the job of game designer.
  • Keep a good portfolio.
  • Make friends with other game developers.
  • Always be on the lookout for jobs.
  • Read up on game design.


Duder, It's Really Over

This brings us to the conclusion of this series of blogs. I’d like to sincerely thank all of you who’ve read and commented on these blogs as I have put a considerable amount of time and effort into writing them. When I started working on these blogs I originally intended them to be a single blog I’d upload to the site, and didn’t envisage them turning into the 6,800+ words that they eventually grew into, but I hope you’ve enjoyed all of it. I’d also like to thank my friend NinjaDuckie who helped proof-read and give feedback on the earlier drafts of these blogs, and Dudeglove who showed me Design Reboot. Good luck, have game design.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
Posted by JJWeatherman

Good stuff, man. It turned into a great series of informative blogs!

Posted by Akrid

Great job! I really enjoyed it.

Edited by artofwar420

 Great links, awesome book recommendations. This has been a great series of blog posts and hopefully even people that don't have any desire to get into game design will get a sense of people design the games we enjoy.
 
And how totally not like this ad game design is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwlE1aASc4g

Posted by iam3green

this was a good blog. i enjoyed reading about it a lot.

Posted by ZombiePie

Bravo man. This was a great blog series!
  

Moderator
Posted by Gamer_152
@JJWeatherman: @Akrid: @artofwar420: @iam3green: @ZombiePie: Thanks a lot guys. It's genuinely fantastic to see responses this positive to the things I write.
Moderator
Posted by Chaser324
@artofwar420: 
The most important lesson to learn in game design: don't forget to tighten up the graphics!!
 
...In all seriousness though, nice work. I'm definitely going to have to watch that entire Escapist video series and check out one or two of those books.
Moderator Online
Posted by Vexxan

Great finish to a great read, this blog series really opened up my eyes a bit.

Edited by Underachiever007

Great job. I really enjoyed this blog series.

Posted by Bollard

Thanks a lot for this blog series, it was a good read. Personally I'm more interested in Games Programming, and will be taking Computer Science at University over any of those "Games" courses after speaking on the phone with Executive Producer at Criterion, Matt Webster. Luckily his wife works at my school and hit me up with a phone number to talk to him which was really helpful. He suggested Comp. Sci or even straight Maths as a Uni choice as there are many chances to specialise towards games dev after Uni, such as EA's postgraduate positions. 


Just having a solid foundation in actual programming I'm hoping will be a much better start into getting into the industry.
Posted by Gamer_152
@Chaser324: @Vegsen: @Underachiever007: Thanks guys, it's really good to hear you enjoyed these blogs.

@Chavtheworld: Again, glad to hear from someone who liked this series of blogs. I'm a games programming student myself and a good computer science or maths course sounds like a great jumping-off point. Very cool that you got to speak to Matt Webster by the way. This may be something you already know but do remember that while studying formally, even if you are going into programming, you'll want to make sure to research games programming specifically in your own time. Learning to use tools like XNA, UDK, and DirectX will help develop the kind of knowledge you'll really need to work in the industry. As with all professions of this kind you'll also want to make sure you keep a good portfolio and you'll want to try and make as many contacts as possible who are interested in entering the games industry themselves. Best of luck duder.
Moderator
Posted by Bollard
@Gamer_152: I definitely plan to do that! Thanks a lot for the tips again, luck to you too duder!
Posted by DevWil

enjoyed this series quite a bit! a lot of it was information i'd heard before myself, but that doesn't make it less valuable. 
 
i'll just add that Tracy Fullerton and Chris Crawford have written books that i have personally found very useful, and that there's no reason to wait to get started in game design! if you want to be a game designer, design a game! it's a much more accessible process than most people would assume.