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    books for the game industry

    Although I'm not a member of the videogame industry, I very much enjoyed looking at Ernest Adams' list of Fifty Books Everyone In the Game Industry Should Read. There are a few that are game-design-oriented in ways that I can't find relevance in, but only a few: Adams keeps much of the list oriented around theoretical and inspirational texts.

    The following are books that I own / have read:

    • Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman

    • A Theory of Fun for Game Design, by Raph Koster

    • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, by Edward Tufte

    • Visual Explanations, by Edward Tufte

    • Envisioning Information, by Edward Tufte (he has a new one out, too)

    • Everything Bad Is Good for You, by Steven Johnson

    • Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

    • Homo Ludens, by Johan Huizinga

    • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

    • Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, by various authors (*cough*gygax*cough*)

    • Watchmen, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

    • Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, by Marshall McLuhan

    • The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell

    • Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, by Janet H. Murray

    and the following are the books on Adams' list that I'd like to read, along with intriguing clippings of his descriptions:

    • Trigger Happy: The Inner Life of Videogames, by Steven Poole
      "Steven Poole is an intelligent and thoughtful writer who understands not only how games work but what they mean, culturally, psychologically, and technically."

    • Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, by Jesper Juul
      "[E]xamines the complex relationship between rules, which create gameplay, and fiction, which creates fantasy worlds."

    • Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism, by Ian Bogost
      "[Provides] a method of analysis that marries literary theory to information theory."

    • Joystick Nation, by J.C. Herz
      "[A] good introduction to the sociology of videogames, placing them in context as a cultural phenomenon."

    • What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee
      "He presents, and argues for, 36 principles of learning that he believes can be found in the design of good games"

    • The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, by Frederick P. Brooks
      "Some of the most famous software engineering truisms were first identified by this book, such as 'adding programmers to a late software project will make it even later.'"

    • A Pattern Language, by Christopher Alexander et al
      "Christopher Alexander and his team identify dozens of patterns of behavior—not all so dramatic—and show how to enable that behavior through architecture." I've been meaning to read this book for at least five years now.

    • Man, Play, and Games, by Roger Caillois
      "[I]ntroduces a classification for games based on four key qualities found in many of them: competition, chance, simulation ... and what he calls vertigo"

    • The Ambiguity of Play, by Brian Sutton-Smith
      "Sutton-Smith updates Huizinga and moves the discussion into the modern world."

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    Friday, October 13, 2006
    1:30 PM


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