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The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology

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The Game Design Reader is a one-of-a-kind collection on game design and criticism, from classic scholarly essays to cutting-edge case studies. A companion work to Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's textbook Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, The Game Design Reader is a classroom sourcebook, a reference for working game developers, and a great read for game fans and pla The Game Design Reader is a one-of-a-kind collection on game design and criticism, from classic scholarly essays to cutting-edge case studies. A companion work to Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's textbook Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, The Game Design Reader is a classroom sourcebook, a reference for working game developers, and a great read for game fans and players.Thirty-two essays by game designers, game critics, game fans, philosophers, anthropologists, media theorists, and others consider fundamental questions: What are games and how are they designed? How do games interact with culture at large? What critical approaches can game designers take to create game stories, game spaces, game communities, and new forms of play?Salen and Zimmerman have collected seminal writings that span 50 years to offer a stunning array of perspectives. Game journalists express the rhythms of game play, sociologists tackle topics such as role-playing in vast virtual worlds, players rant and rave, and game designers describe the sweat and tears of bringing a game to market. Each text acts as a springboard for discussion, a potential class assignment, and a source of inspiration. The book is organized around fourteen topics, from The Player Experience to The Game Design Process, from Games and Narrative to Cultural Representation. Each topic, introduced with a short essay by Salen and Zimmerman, covers ideas and research fundamental to the study of games, and points to relevant texts within the Reader. Visual essays between book sections act as counterpoint to the writings.Like Rules of Play, The Game Design Reader is an intelligent and playful book. An invaluable resource for professionals and a unique introduction for those new to the field, The Game Design Reader is essential reading for anyone who takes games seriously.


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The Game Design Reader is a one-of-a-kind collection on game design and criticism, from classic scholarly essays to cutting-edge case studies. A companion work to Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's textbook Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, The Game Design Reader is a classroom sourcebook, a reference for working game developers, and a great read for game fans and pla The Game Design Reader is a one-of-a-kind collection on game design and criticism, from classic scholarly essays to cutting-edge case studies. A companion work to Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman's textbook Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, The Game Design Reader is a classroom sourcebook, a reference for working game developers, and a great read for game fans and players.Thirty-two essays by game designers, game critics, game fans, philosophers, anthropologists, media theorists, and others consider fundamental questions: What are games and how are they designed? How do games interact with culture at large? What critical approaches can game designers take to create game stories, game spaces, game communities, and new forms of play?Salen and Zimmerman have collected seminal writings that span 50 years to offer a stunning array of perspectives. Game journalists express the rhythms of game play, sociologists tackle topics such as role-playing in vast virtual worlds, players rant and rave, and game designers describe the sweat and tears of bringing a game to market. Each text acts as a springboard for discussion, a potential class assignment, and a source of inspiration. The book is organized around fourteen topics, from The Player Experience to The Game Design Process, from Games and Narrative to Cultural Representation. Each topic, introduced with a short essay by Salen and Zimmerman, covers ideas and research fundamental to the study of games, and points to relevant texts within the Reader. Visual essays between book sections act as counterpoint to the writings.Like Rules of Play, The Game Design Reader is an intelligent and playful book. An invaluable resource for professionals and a unique introduction for those new to the field, The Game Design Reader is essential reading for anyone who takes games seriously.

30 review for The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mjhancock

    This book is probably the most comprehensive anthology of video game related studies that I have to date. More to the point, it doesn't just have a lot of essays, but it has a lot of essays that are foundational to the field, and still significant five years later. To name a few, we have play theory from Huizinga, Callois, Bateson and Sutton-Smith; education and game discussions from James Paul Gee and Henry Jenkins; game design essays from actual game designers, including Marc LeBlanc, Doug Chu This book is probably the most comprehensive anthology of video game related studies that I have to date. More to the point, it doesn't just have a lot of essays, but it has a lot of essays that are foundational to the field, and still significant five years later. To name a few, we have play theory from Huizinga, Callois, Bateson and Sutton-Smith; education and game discussions from James Paul Gee and Henry Jenkins; game design essays from actual game designers, including Marc LeBlanc, Doug Church, and Chris Crawford; and a good dose of MMO essays, including Richard Bartle, Raph Koster, and Edward Castronova. I'd especially like to note that Zimmerman and Salen included a few essays from those outside of "academic" circles, including two game journalists (Tom Chick, always_black) and even an FAQ writer--it's really nice to see acknowledgement that people who write informatively on games don't always have a bunch of letters next to their names. The downside of the book is that if you don't subscribe to the editors' principle that there's a fairly smooth continuity between traditional game and play and video games, many of the essays aren't worth your time. And at nearly 900 pages, there's almost too much here to process it all. But as a reference book and a summation of the field, it's top notch.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Odile

    This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in thinking about play and games. There is a very broad selection of essays and articles that touch upon historical and cultural issues of play, as well as specific games ranging from folk games to board games, card games, and of course video games. The name might be slightly misleading; you won't find much in the way of tutorials or guidance here if you just want to be a game designer. Instead, this is aimed towards when you are interested in g This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in thinking about play and games. There is a very broad selection of essays and articles that touch upon historical and cultural issues of play, as well as specific games ranging from folk games to board games, card games, and of course video games. The name might be slightly misleading; you won't find much in the way of tutorials or guidance here if you just want to be a game designer. Instead, this is aimed towards when you are interested in game design, but at the same time want to reflect on what games are and mean in the first place. More theoretical and practical, in other words, but to be honest, I think if you're really serious about game design from a creative direction standpoint, you will want to become familiar with many of the writers and pieces in this heavy tome. As I haven't read Salen and Zimmerman's earlier collection 'Rules of Play', I can't really compare this to it, but I'm definitely interested in seeking it out now.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Hans Otterson

    I am not as interested in game design as I once was (nor in games, especially video games--every half decade I buy a hot new console, buy a few games, play twenty hours or so across them, and then sell everything) but as a discussion of the guts of an artform, I knew this could offer me fruit. I'd read Salen and Zimmerman's text de résistance, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, and earned a great deal of respect for their knowledge. Having turned my art-ardor decidedly toward fiction, neve I am not as interested in game design as I once was (nor in games, especially video games--every half decade I buy a hot new console, buy a few games, play twenty hours or so across them, and then sell everything) but as a discussion of the guts of an artform, I knew this could offer me fruit. I'd read Salen and Zimmerman's text de résistance, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, and earned a great deal of respect for their knowledge. Having turned my art-ardor decidedly toward fiction, nevertheless I figured I could play a kind of game with this tome: absorb the lessons of game design, but pretend that they are instead lessons about writing. Maintaining orthopraxy in this ideal proved impossible, but it was a fun game. And the lessons I learned? Will they bear figs or will Christ curse my tree? (A part of the Shelf Love project: https://tinyurl.com/y5w8h4pa) 2W

  4. 4 out of 5

    Allie Francies

    Thank you thesis work, I get to read ridiculously heavy tomes dedicated to the mythological underpinnings of the Legend of Zelda. Being a huge video game fan, it's neat to see these games that I love so doted on, on the other hand it's a little silly to read an essay on the subtext of "Adventure"

  5. 4 out of 5

    Marcin

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Dalton

  7. 4 out of 5

    Enzo Hernandez levi

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zack Hiwiller

  10. 4 out of 5

    Omar

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lin

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jack Hoefnagel

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dean Gvozdic

  14. 5 out of 5

    Alex Burns

  15. 5 out of 5

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  16. 4 out of 5

    Fabiotola

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gleb

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jill

  19. 4 out of 5

    Darryl Charles

  20. 5 out of 5

    Owen Otto

  21. 5 out of 5

    Souvik

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andreas Iatropoulos

  23. 4 out of 5

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  24. 5 out of 5

    Julian Quiroz Londoño

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  26. 4 out of 5

    Caro Williams-Pierce

  27. 4 out of 5

    Badal Upasni

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michael B

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kes

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