The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses (A Lot of Lenses)

Last month, I ran across the YouTube channel Extra Credits, and I have become a creature obsessed. Extra Credits is a shining example of quality game discourse: Every episode is well-written, thoughtful, and informed. They’ve put together a playlist of all their episodes in chronological order, which you can find right here. Sorry in advance for sucking up all your spare time.

In one of their “mailbag” episodes, in which they answer questions sent in by viewers, they recommended a number of books on game design. Now, I’m not interested in becoming a game designer myself, but I am very interested in the game design process, so I decided to write down their suggestions and add them to my TBR list.

Impatience Rewarded

First up was Jesse Schell’s guide, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses. My library had a digital copy and I forgot to bring a book for my lunch break, so I started reading it almost immediately.

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I’m glad that I read The Art of Game Design right after watching so many episodes of Extra Credits, when my enthusiasm was way up. As interesting as I think game design is, this is definitely a book written directly to game designers. Coming at it from a player perspective made the whole thing feel a bit off.

Even so, it was a good read. The whole book is organized well, so the sections that are super back-end, hidden-from-view, gritty details that I didn’t care about were easy to skip, and honestly, the “lenses” that Schell highlights throughout the book do a nice job of summarizing each section, making this a book that’s easy to come back to for refreshers, or an easy skim if you just want a basic primer on the subject of game design.

Recommendation

If you’re interested in game design, The Art of Game Design is well worth your time, even if you only want to flip through and read the summaries of each section. As a player, I learned a lot, and if you’re an aspiring or current designer, I’m sure you’ll learn even more.

(This review has been cross-posted to my LibraryThing account.)

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