10 Best Game Design Books

To become a promising game designer, you need to accumulate the necessary knowledge. Reading books is also one of the best ways to improve game design.

There are many game design books on the market today. In this article, I will bring you the top ten books with detailed reviews. These books all make their special impressions on me. My experience working in video game design is helpful to give you a lot of advice in this field.

1. Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

Specification

  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 58 minutes
  • Author: Jason Schreier
  • Language: English
  • Program Type: Audiobooks

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Reason To Buy

  • Help inspire designers
  • Captivating storytelling
  • Show the intricacies of game design
  • It contains valuable, practical experiences
  • Displays the video game development process

Review

If you’re looking for a comprehensive book on the game-making industry, you’ve come to the right place with the Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.

The book includes real stories about famous games in the world. The author has also compiled interviews with people directly working on the project, bringing credibility and authenticity to his examples.

Through this work, I have realized more clearly how to make a video game come into being. The design process for the game is challenging and arduous.

Anyone who wants to get into this field should read the book. They will understand the working environments before becoming a game designer.

Each story brings deep emotions to the reader. I have drawn for myself practical experiences after experiencing this work.

Hence, the story of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Star Wars: 1313 makes me constantly exclaim. It would help if you got this book to immerse yourself in game development with the author.

2. The Ultimate Guide to Video Game

The Ultimate Guide to Video Game

Specification

  • Item Weight: 13.7 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 272 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Interesting content
  • Easy to read and understand
  • Provide advanced techniques
  • Improve and solve many problems

Review

Next on any list is a publication by Flint Dille and John Zurr, two famous video game developers with many years of experience.

This book condenses their knowledge and practical experience, so it has a high reference value. It is my best work on Game Writing and Design content. I recommend this book to any game designer and developer.

The author has brought the most advanced way to make simple games more attractive with engaging scenarios and storylines. I learned how to turn my videos or simple ideas into an exciting and enjoyable game scene. I love that the author guides the reader through sketching the game and realizing his goals.

This document also covers the difficulties you may encounter when creating your games. From there, I could set up a game based on emotional stories of my own without difficulty.

This book also provides mini-exercises that test the reader’s skills. I can review the knowledge gained from work through these small tests. These exercises also helped me deepen my understanding of what the author was saying.

3. Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Specification

  • Item Weight: 1.92 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.3 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 560 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Attractive cartoon images
  • Easy access to knowledge
  • For reference purposes only
  • Diverse and complete content

Review

If you need a reference to supplement your knowledge after reading the textbook, Level Up will satisfy you. Author Scott Rogers has provided a directory full of information for the reader. I can find all possible user interfaces in a HUD, camera types and their movements, and some common problems in this book.

With such detailed and complete content, this work provides a great learning opportunity for those just starting in game development.

I was able to come up with more original ideas thanks to the concepts that the book brought to me. The author has successfully introduced readers to basic concepts, references, and tips available in practice.

This book is suitable not only for beginners but also for experienced designers.

The work will help you understand how to make games, as well as provide valuable instructions as you work as a game designer. The author’s humorous and witty illustrations in his book make the lessons interesting and receptive.

4. The Art of Game Design

The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses

Specification

  • Item Weight: 2.87 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 610 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Easy to understand
  • Include the basics
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Structure logical sections
  • Fresh perspectives on the game

Review

The next book on my list is a textbook for game developers. Its content covers various topics. This publication mainly discusses how to design games from different angles.

Author Jesse Schell covers all the basics in video game development with clear and easy-to-understand explanations. These topics are arranged logically for the reader to grasp quickly. Even if you’re a novice, you can easily keep up with the book’s progress.

What I like about this publication are the 113 lenses that the author presented. Each lens offers a unique and new perspective on gaming for readers. You can follow the questions on each lens to figure out how to optimize your game.

The author also analyzed each step a game designer must go through when designing a game. I can understand this career and the steps to realize my ideas.

5. Advanced Game Design

Advanced Game Design: A Systems Approach

Specification

  • Sticky notes: On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length: 814 pages
  • Language: English
  • File size: 9710 KB

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Reason To Buy

  • Provide basic concepts
  • It shows how the game works
  • Introduction to the structure of the game
  • Covering knowledge from basic to advanced

Review

Advanced Game Design is a textbook everyone who wants to work in game development should read. The book covers a wide range of content, from basic concepts to advanced techniques. This work has helped game designers like me build a solid theoretical foundation to further their careers.

Author Sellers gave an overview of how system games work. I was more explicit about the mechanics of these games. The close relationship between the game’s working mechanism and its effects on the product has become transparent through the work.

My opinion has changed drastically after reading this book. I notice the system loops all around me as the elements link together. It has given me great support during my career.

I can’t complain about how the author presented the basic theoretical concepts. The different levels in a game system became very clear to me through this piece. I can apply the knowledge learned in my work to improve my design efficiency.

6. Theory of Fun for Game Design

Theory of Fun for Game Design

Specification

  • Publisher: O’Reilly Media
  • Language: English
  • Item Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Dimensions: ‎7.5 x 0.55 x 9.25 inches

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Reason To Buy

  • Small and light size
  • High efficiency
  • Beautiful illustrations
  • Explain why games are attractive

Review

It is a unique work by author Raph Koster. He is an experienced game designer; you may know him through Ultima Online or Star Wars Galaxies. Given his illustrious reputation, you can see why this work is so compelling.

I understood the elements that make a game so compelling in this piece. The book explains why some games hold so many people’s attention for so long while others get overlooked. Since then, I have known how to make my products more attractive regarding graphics and content.

This book is also of great artistic value to me. I love these colorful pages filled with colorful illustrations. It makes the lessons no longer dull, but on the contrary, more exciting and easy to understand. The author’s office of humor also did not make me feel sleepy while reading the book.

The comparisons and examples that the author gives are also compelling. I understood how the human brain is attracted to games. This psychological knowledge has allowed me to understand the user’s response to games, improving my product.

7. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

Specification

  • Language: ‎ English
  • Item Weight: 3.65 pounds
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 8.3 x 1.5 inches
  • Hardcover: 688 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Inspirational content
  • Offer new perspectives
  • Well-presented theoretical concepts
  • Provide models to analyze game types

Review

You may already know the various games but rarely hear about the theories, methodologies, and vocabulary for these games.

This book is a publication that provides such information. The work has built the basic concepts and terms as the foundation for game design development.

I greatly appreciate the author’s perspective in this publication. The author has considered the game a vehicle to bring the developer’s information and views to his customers.

I know how game creators impart knowledge, promote their home culture, or tell meaningful stories. Games have become a multi-purpose medium instead of just entertainment.

The authors are Salen and Zimmerman, game developers with profound knowledge and experience. Hence, their presentation is very detailed and straightforward. I can easily understand what the author wants to convey without spending too much time or effort.

Although this relatively thick and heavy work may make you hesitate initially, with patience to learn, it will not let you down.

8. Game Design Workshop

Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Fourth Edition

Specification

  • Item Weight: 2.43 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.25 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 522 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Lots of details
  • Many references included
  • High-value illustrations
  • Focus on a professional game design

Review

Anyone new to game design and development should have a Game Design Workshop on their bookshelf. The author gave the information as detailed as possible but kept the reader from being lengthy.

Instead, the knowledge presented in work is brief and sharp, focusing on a professional approach to the game.

This book contains all the information about game theory and methodology, prototyping, testing, and iteration.

This knowledge has helped me a lot in my early days on the path of game development. My products have become perfect and improved rapidly.

The work consists of 3 separate parts with increasing complexity. In Chapter I, the author introduced the basic theoretical concepts you need to understand before starting your project.

In Chapter II, you’ll dive into your game design practice. The final chapter of the book will guide you through tips and methods to professionalize your product.

This book also helps me when I need to troubleshoot problems that occur in the game. The illustrations will stimulate the problem the author is discussing.

The author mentioned perspective knowledge in game design is also one of the things that create value for the work.

9. Drawing Basics and Video Game Art

Drawing Basics and Video Game Art: Classic to Cutting-Edge Art Techniques for Winning Video Game Design

Specification

  • Item Weight: 1.97 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.49 x 0.67 x 10.02 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 240 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Suitable for game designers
  • An easy-to-understand reference
  • Make games more attractive and artistic
  • Cover basic and highly applicable knowledge

Review

Chris Solarski is an expert in the art of video games. He developed Drawing Basics and Video Game Art as a detailed guide for game artists.

With his top-notch artistic ability, the author has brought basic knowledge about scale, composition, and atmosphere to animation.

The author explicitly compares classic game art and artistic criteria in contemporary video games. It gives me a glimpse into gaming history.

It is helpful for any artist who wants to get involved in game development.

I have done the exercises given by the author. Through these tests, I broke free from simply drawing what I saw. Instead, I brought my imagination into the products, making them more appealing.

The principles are also beneficial for turning the picture into a realistic game scene. All you need to do is take out a pen and paper and start building your game world with aesthetic principles from this work.

10. The Gamer’s Brain

The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Video Game Design

Specification

  • Item Weight: 15.9 ounces
  • Dimensions: 6.14 x 0.6 x 9.21 inches
  • Language: English
  • Paperback: 266 pages

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Reason To Buy

  • Deep and engaging content
  • Exploiting critical concepts of the game
  • Expanding awareness of game design
  • Clarifying psychology and user experience

Review

I am not exaggerating when I say that Celia Hodent is genuinely a leading psychology and cognitive science expert. She showed her subtlety and deep psychological knowledge in The Gamer’s Brain.

It is a book that will be your practical assistant to conquering video game users.

With a humble voice and skillful leadership, the author showed me the social behaviors for exposure to video games.

The work shows how the human brain works, especially during gaming. From there, I can understand what will excite and bring satisfaction to a gamer. It is the key to success that a game designer needs.

The author presents concepts related to this field in a clear and detailed manner. She showed me the mistakes I often make during my work.

Theoretical UX concepts could be simple for me after experiencing this book. This book is a guide to help me on the way to develop my game-making career.

Buying Guide

Finding a book that is valuable and suitable for you is a challenging thing to do. My instructions below will make it easier for you to overcome this challenge.

Skill levels

You should first know your level when shopping for a game design book. This factor will determine the complexity and content of the work you read.

Beginners in game development should familiarize themselves with books that explain basic concepts and theories. Meanwhile, experienced developers need publications that help them practice more and improve their experience.

Author

The author’s reputation is also something that you must pay attention to when buying a book. Every author has their strengths, and you’ll need to research to see if the writer’s strengths are something you want to improve on.

Reading a book by a good author is like learning from a good teacher. Your progress will be much quicker and more pronounced.

Content

Identifying the content that you want to improve will help you find a more accurate book. There are books that focus on building a game’s story, and there are works that highlight how the game enhances the aesthetics.

Depending on the skill you want to improve, you can choose a book about that topic to learn.

FAQs

What are the 7 game design rules?

There are 7 basic game design principles that people in this industry need to understand.

  • Retain Interest
  • Add Interaction
  • Fun and Surprises
  • Determine Objective
  • Include Momentum
  • Visuals, Music, and Characters
  • Restriction and Regulation Specification

How do I start designing games?

To work as a professional game designer, the first thing you need is a diploma in a relevant field.

After that, you work at game studios to improve your skills and gain experience.

Once you have the necessary knowledge, you can open your Studio and work as an indie game designer or participate in projects of large companies.

What are the 5 stages of game development?

To realize a game from simple ideas, you need to go through the 5 steps:

  • Pre-production
  • Production
  • Quality assurance
  • Launch
  • Post-production

Do game designers get paid well?

Becoming a game designer is an excellent opportunity to have an attractive income. An expert in this field can earn up to $167,057 per year.

Is game design hard?

Yes. You need to persevere in learning and work daily to acquire the knowledge and experience necessary to create valuable products that attract users.

Final Thoughts

Game design is a job that can give you excellent career development opportunities and a desirable income. To become an expert in this field, support from references is indispensable.

The detailed review on the top 10 game design books in this article can help you find the best work to accompany your career path.

Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made is the best book to read to improve your game graphic design skills. Thanks for reading!