The Art of Game Design

The Art of Game Design : A Book of Lenses, Second Edition

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Good game design happens when you view your game from as many perspectives as possible. Written by one of the world's top game designers, The Art of Game Design presents 100+ sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game's design, encompassing diverse fields such as psychology, architecture, music, visual design, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, puzzle design, and anthropology. This Second Edition of a Game Developer Front Line Award winner:
Describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game designDemonstrates how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in top-quality video gamesContains valuable insight from Jesse Schell, the former chair of the International Game Developers Association and award-winning designer of Disney online games
The Art of Game Design, Second Edition gives readers useful perspectives on how to make better game designs faster. It provides practical instruction on creating world-class games that will be played again and again.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 600 pages
  • 193.04 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 997.9g
  • Taylor & Francis Inc
  • A K Peters
  • Natick, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • 2nd New edition
  • 147 Illustrations, black and white
  • 1466598646
  • 9781466598645
  • 23,105

Review quote

"... a solid pick and a `must' for any collection looking for an in-depth, fundamental textbook on how to design and work with games."-Midwest Book Review, March 2015
Game Nite's Editors' Choice"... this book is considered by many to be the `bible' of game design. ... Much of the material has been updated ... the introduction to probability ... is a must read for aspiring game designers ... engaging and thought provoking ... a substantial book for someone looking to get serious about game design. ... the cards are brilliant and a joy to keep on your desk and pull one or more out and see how they relate to your current design. ... Highly recommended."-Game Nite, Issue 2, 2015
"I could not think of a better name for this work because game design isn't a skillset, it's a Tao: a way of looking at the world. This was perhaps the most important thing that Jesse ever taught me. It is the principle lesson of this book. ... The things you will learn here are universally applicable. ... Each section individually is a lens and tool in your designer's tool belt but, taken as a whole, they form a system of thinking that will allow you to tackle problems well beyond their scope. ... this book trains you to think as a designer ..."-James Portnow, Game Designer, CEO of Rainmaker Games, and Writer of Extra Credits
Praise for the First Edition:
Winner of a 2008 Game Developer Front Line Award
"This book was clearly designed, not just written, and is an entire course in how to be a game designer. ... The book is also intensely practical, giving some of the best advice on how to harness your own subconscious I've ever read, as well as short and useful descriptions of probability theory for non-mathematicians, how to diagram interest curves, working with a team, and dozens of other topics. It is simply the best text I've seen that really addresses what a designer should know, and then actually gives practical advice about how to gain that knowledge through life experience. It's a marvelous tour de force and an essential part of anyone's game design library."-Noah Falstein, from Game Developer Magazine
"... a good book that teaches the craft of game design in an accessible manner. ... The text goes just deep enough to give you practical insight into how the key concepts might be useful without becoming wordy. ... If you are looking for a competent introduction to game design, this book is a good place to start."-Daniel Cook,, February 2009
"As indicated by its title, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses uses many different perspectives (the titular lenses), which each prompt their own important questions, ranging from `What problems does my game ask the players to solve?' to `What does beauty mean within the context of my game?' These distinct points are interwoven throughout a step-by-step analysis of the design process that begins with the designer and his or her basic idea, and builds successfully from there. As with Rules of Play, the wealth of information presented by The Art of Game Design may seem daunting at first, but Schell's agreeable voice eases the reader into a series of invaluable angles we can (and should) use to evaluate what we play."
"Easily the most comprehensive, practical book I've ever seen on game design."-Will Wright, Designer of The Sims, SimCity, and Spore
"Jesse has lovingly crafted a great resource for both aspiring developers as well as seasoned gaming industry veterans. I highly recommend this book."-Cliff "CliffyB" Bleszinski, CEO Boss Key and Former Design Director for Epic Games
"Inspiring and practical for both veterans and beginners."-Bob Bates, Game Designer and Co-Founder of Legend Entertainment
"Jesse Schell's new book, The Art of Game Design, is a marvelous introduction to game design by a true master of the form. Schell is the rarest of creatures: a gifted teacher who is also a talented and successful current game designer. This book reflects Jesse's skill at presenting information clearly and coherently, and the knowledge he has acquired as a master game designer. I have already referenced this book while preparing lectures and classes in the U.S., Germany, and New Zealand, and recommend it as an invaluable aid for anyone interested in game design. The Art of Game Design is a pitch-perfect blend of valuable knowledge and insights with an informal and compelling presentation. The sections on harnessing the creative power of the subconscious mind are particularly insightful and delightfully written. It is immediately clear that Jesse Schell not only knows the theory behind what he writes about; he has also put it to use many times and honed his techniques to perfection. A must-read for anyone interested in interactive design, and even the creative process in general."-Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer, Google
"The Art of Game Design describes precisely how to build a game the world will love and elegantly crank it through the realities of clients and publishers. It draws wisdom from Disneyland to Michelangelo, gradually assembling a supply of concrete game design rules and subtle psychological tricks that actually work in surprising ways. It is fertilizer for the subconscious: keep a stack of Post-it notes nearby to record all the game ideas that will sprout out of your own head while reading."-Kyle Gabler, Game Designer and Founder of 2D Boy, Makers of World of Goo
"He embodies a tradition of reconciling diverse disciplines, extending the possibilities of each and creating new theories and opportunities for both industry and academia. Jesse is like the Einstein of entertainment."-Mk Haley, Walt Disney Research
"Packed with Jesse's real-world experience and humorous insight, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses is a tool chest crossed with a kaleidoscope. Both fantastical and practical, methodical and wonder-full, this book and deck will have you looking at and dreaming up games with a fresh vision. Like a chemistry set for making mental explosions, it's an idea(l) book guiding the design process for both new and seasoned game designers. In short, using Jesse's book is FUN."-Heather Kelley, Artist and Game Designer
"The Art of Game Design is one of a handful of books I continuously reference during production. Whether you're just starting out or looking for ways to approach your design from a fresh perspective, this book is a must for your library."-Neil Druckmann, Creative Director on The Last of Us at Naughty Dog
"On games industry desks, books tend to come and go, but they all seem to go on top of Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design, because that's the one book that seems to stick around."-Jason VandenBerghe, Creative Director, Ubisoft
"Ken Rolston, internationally celebrated game designer, recommends Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design both for smart people and for people who are learning how to be smart."-Ken Rolston, Director of Design, Turbine
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About Jesse Schell

Jesse Schell is distinguished professor of the practice of entertainment technology for Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), a joint master's program between Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts and School of Computer Science, where he teaches game design and leads several research projects. He is also CEO of Schell Games, LLC, an independent game studio in Pittsburgh. Formerly he was creative director of the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio and chairman of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). Schell worked as a designer, programmer, and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest. He received his undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and master's degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon. In 2004, he was named as one of the World's 100 Top Young Innovators by MIT's Technology Review.
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Table of contents

Table of Lenses
In the Beginning, There Is the Designer
Magic Words
What Skills Does a Game Designer Need?
The Most Important Skill
The Five Kinds of Listening
The Secret of the Gifted
Other Reading to Consider
The Designer Creates an Experience
The Game Is Not the Experience
Is This Unique to Games?
Three Practical Approaches to Chasing Rainbows
Introspection: Powers, Perils, and Practice
Peril #1: Introspection Can Lead to False Conclusions about Reality
Peril #2: What Is True of My Experiences May Not Be True for Others
Dissect Your Feelings
Defeating Heisenberg
Analyze Memories
Two Passes
Sneak Glances
Observe Silently
Essential Experience
All That's Real Is What You Feel
The Experience Takes Place in a Venue
The Shifting Sands of Platform
Private Venues
The Hearth
The Workbench
The Reading Nook
Public Venues
The Theater
The Arena
The Museum
Half Private/Half Public Venues
The Gaming Table
The Playground
Venues Mixed and Matched
Other Reading to Consider
The Experience Rises Out of a Game
A Rant about Definitions
So What Is a Game?
No, Seriously, What Is a Game?
Problem Solving 101
The Fruits of Our Labor
Other Reading to Consider
The Game Consists of Elements
What Are Little Games Made Of?
The Four Basic Elements
Skin and Skeleton
The Elements Support a Theme
Mere Games
Unifying Themes
Back to Reality
Other Reading to Consider
The Game Begins with an Idea
State the Problem
How to Sleep
Your Silent Partner
Subconscious Tip #1: Pay Attention
Subconscious Tip #2: Record Your Ideas
Subconscious Tip #3: Manage Its Appetites (Judiciously)
Subconscious Tip #4: Sleep
Subconscious Tip #5: Don't Push Too Hard
A Personal Relationship
Sixteen Nitty-Gritty Brainstorming Tips
Brainstorm Tip #1: The Write Answer
Brainstorm Tip #2: Write or Type?
Brainstorm Tip #3: Sketch
Brainstorm Tip #4: Toys
Brainstorm Tip #5: Change Your Perspective
Brainstorm Tip #6: Immerse Yourself
Brainstorm Tip #7: Crack Jokes
Brainstorm Tip #8: Spare No Expense
Brainstorm Tip #9: The Writing on the Wall
Brainstorm Tip #10: The Space Remembers
Brainstorm Tip #11: Write Everything
Brainstorm Tip #12: Number Your Lists
Brainstorm Tip #13: Destroy Your Assumptions
Brainstorm Tip #14: Mix and Match Categories
Brainstorm Tip #15: Talk to Yourself
Brainstorm Tip #16: Find a Partner
Look At All These Ideas! Now What?
Other Reading to Consider
The Game Improves through Iteration
Choosing an Idea
The Eight Filters
The Rule of the Loop
A Short History of Software Engineering
Danger-Waterfall-Keep Back
Barry Boehm Loves You
The Agile Manifesto
Risk Assessment and Prototyping
Example: Prisoners of Bubbleville
Prisoners of Bubbleville: Design Brief
Ten Tips for Productive Prototyping
Prototyping Tip #1: Answer a Question
Prototyping Tip #2: Forget Quality
Prototyping Tip #3: Don't Get Attached
Prototyping Tip #4: Prioritize Your Prototypes
Prototyping Tip #5: Parallelize Prototypes Productively
Prototyping Tip #6: It Doesn't Have to Be Digital
Tetris: A Paper Prototype
Halo: A Paper Prototype
Prototyping Tip #7: It Doesn't Have to Be Interactive
Prototyping Tip #8: Pick a "Fast Loop" Game Engine
Prototyping Tip #9: Build the Toy First
Prototyping Tip #10: Seize Opportunities for More Loops
Closing the Loop
Loop 1: "New Racing" Game
Loop 2: "Racing Subs" Game
Loop 3: "Flying Dinos" Game
How Much Is Enough?
Your Secret Fuel
Other Reading to Consider
The Game Is Made for a Player
Einstein's Violin
Project Yourself
The Medium Is the Misogynist?
Five Things Males Like to See in Games
Five Things Females Like to See in Games
LeBlanc's Taxonomy of Game Pleasures
Bartle's Taxonomy of Player Types
More Pleasure: MORE!
Other Reading to Consider
The Experience Is in the Player's Mind
Other Reading to Consider
The Player's Mind Is Driven by the Player's Motivation
And More Needs
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
Wanna vs. Hafta
Other Reading to Consider
Some Elements Are Game Mechanics
Mechanic 1: Space
Nested Spaces
Zero Dimensions
Mechanic 2: Time
Discrete and Continuous Time
Clocks and Races
Controlling Time
Mechanic 3: Objects, Attributes, and States
Mechanic 4: Actions
Emergent Gameplay
Mechanic 5: Rules
Parlett's Rule Analysis
The Most Important Rule
Wrapping Up Rules
Mechanic 6: Skill
Real vs. Virtual Skills
Enumerating Skills
Mechanic 7: Chance
Invention of Probability
Ten Rules of Probability Every Game Designer Should Know
Rule #1: Fractions Are Decimals Are Percents
Rule #2: Zero to One-and That's It!
Rule #3: "Looked For" Divided By "Possible Outcomes" Equals Probability
Rule #4: Enumerate!
Rule #5: In Certain Cases, OR Means Add
Rule #6: In Certain Cases, AND Means Multiply
Rule #7: One Minus "Does" = "Doesn't"
Rule #8: The Sum of Multiple Linear Random Selections is NOT a Linear Random Selection!
Rule #9: Roll the Dice
Rule #10: Geeks Love Showing Off (Gombaud's Law)
Expected Value
Consider Values Carefully
Human Element
Skill and Chance Get Tangled
Other Reading to Consider
Game Mechanics Must Be in Balance
The Twelve Most Common Types of Game Balance
Balance Type #1: Fairness
Symmetrical Games
Asymmetrical Games
Biplane Battle
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Balance Type #2: Challenge vs. Success
Balance Type #3: Meaningful Choices
Balancing Type #4: Skill vs. Chance
Balancing Type #5: Head vs. Hands
Balance Type #6: Competition vs. Cooperation
Balance Type #7: Short vs. Long
Balance Type #8: Rewards
Balance Type #9: Punishment
Balance Type #10: Freedom vs. Controlled Experience
Balance Type #11: Simple vs. Complex
Natural vs. Artificial Balancing
Balance Type #12: Detail vs. Imagination
Game Balancing Methodologies
Balancing Game Economies
Dynamic Game Balancing
The Big Picture
Other Reading to Consider
Game Mechanics Support Puzzles
The Puzzle of Puzzles
Aren't Puzzles Dead?
Good Puzzles
Puzzle Principle #1: Make the Goal Easily Understood
Puzzle Principle #2: Make It Easy to Get Started
Puzzle Principle #3: Give a Sense of Progress
Puzzle Principle #4: Give a Sense of Solvability
Puzzle Principle #5: Increase Difficulty Gradually
Puzzle Principle #6: Parallelism Lets the Player Rest
Puzzle Principle #7: Pyramid Structure Extends Interest
Puzzle Principle #8: Hints Extend Interest
Puzzle Principle #9: Give the Answer!
Puzzle Principle #10: Perceptual Shifts Are a Double-Edged Sword
A Final Piece
Other Reading to Consider
Players Play Games through an Interface
Between Yin and Yang
Breaking It Down
The Loop of Interaction
Channels of Information
Step 1: List and Prioritize Information
Step 2: List Channels
Step 3: Map Information to Channels
Step 4: Review Use of Dimensions
Mode Tip #1: Use as Few Modes as Possible
Mode Tip #2: Avoid Overlapping Modes
Mode Tip #3: Make Different Modes Look as Different as Possible
Other Interface Tips
Interface Tip #1: Steal
Interface Tip #2: Customize
Interface Tip #3: Design around Your Physical Interface
Interface Tip #4: Theme Your Interface
Interface Tip #5: Sound Maps to Touch
Interface Tip #6: Balance Options and Simplicity with Layers
Interface Tip #7: Use Metaphors
Interface Tip #8: If It Looks Different, It Should Act Different
Interface Tip #9: Test, Test, Test!
Interface Tip #10: Break the Rules to Help Your Player
Other Reading to Consider
Experiences Can Be Judged by Their Interest Curves
My First Lens
Interest Curves
Patterns inside Patterns
What Comprises Interest?
Factor 1: Inherent Interest
Factor 2: Poetry of Presentation
Factor 3: Projection
Interest Factor Examples
Putting It All Together
Other Reading to Consider
One Kind of Experience Is the Story
Story/Game Duality
Myth of Passive Entertainment
The Dream
The Reality
Real-World Method 1: The String of Pearls
Real-World Method 2: The Story Machine
The Problems
Problem #1: Good Stories Have Unity
Problem #2: The Combinatorial Explosion
Problem #3: Multiple Endings Disappoint
Problem #4: Not Enough Verbs
Problem #5: Time Travel Makes Tragedy Obsolete
The Dream Reborn
Story Tips for Game Designers
Story Tip #1: Goals, Obstacles, and Conflicts
Story Tip #2: Make It Real
Story Tip #3: Provide Simplicity and Transcendence
Story Tip #4: Consider the Hero's Journey
Vogler's Synopsis of the Hero's Journey
Story Tip #5: Put Your Story to Work!
Story Tip #6: Keep Your Story World Consistent
Story Tip #7: Make Your Story World Accessible
Story Tip #8: Use Cliches Judiciously
Story Tip #9: Sometimes a Map Brings a Story to Life
Other Reading to Consider
Story and Game Structures Can Be Artfully Merged with Indirect Control
The Feeling of Freedom
Indirect Control Method #1: Constraints
Indirect Control Method #2: Goals
Indirect Control Method #3: Interface
Indirect Control Method #4: Visual Design
Indirect Control Method #5: Characters
Indirect Control Method #6: Music
Other Reading to Consider
Stories and Games Take Place in Worlds
Transmedia Worlds
The Power of Pokemon
Properties of Transmedia Worlds
Transmedia Worlds Are Powerful
Transmedia Worlds Are Long Lived
Transmedia Worlds Evolve over Time
What Successful Transmedia Worlds Have in Common
Worlds Contain Characters
The Nature of Game Characters
Novel Characters
Movie Characters
Game Characters
The Ideal Form
The Blank Slate
Creating Compelling Game Characters
Character Tip #1: List Character Functions
Character Tip #2: Define and Use Character Traits
Character Tip #3: Use the Interpersonal Circumplex
Character Tip #4: Make a Character Web
Character Tip #5: Use Status
Character Tip #6: Use the Power of the Voice
Character Tip #7: Use the Power of the Face
Character Tip #8: Powerful Stories Transform Characters
Character Tip #9: Let Your Characters Surprise Us
Character Tip #10: Avoid the Uncanny Valley
Other Reading to Consider
Worlds Contain Spaces
The Purpose of Architecture
Organizing Your Game Space
A Word about Landmarks
Christopher Alexander Is a Genius
Alexander's Fifteen Properties of Living Structures
Real vs. Virtual Architecture
Know How Big
Third-Person Distortion
Level Design
Other Reading to Consider
The Look and Feel of a World Is Defined by Its Aesthetics
Monet Refuses the Operation
The Value of Aesthetics
Learning to See
How to Let Aesthetics Guide Your Design
How Much Is Enough?
Use Audio
Balancing Art and Technology
Other Reading to Consider
Some Games Are Played with Other Players
We Are Not Alone
Why We Play with Others
Other Reading to Consider
Other Players Sometimes Form Communities
More than Just Other Players
Ten Tips for Strong Communities
Community Tip #1: Foster Friendships
Community Tip #2: Put Conflict at the Heart
Community Tip #3: Use Architecture to Shape your Community
Community Tip #4: Create Community Property
Community Tip #5: Let Players Express Themselves
Community Tip #6: Support Three Levels
Community Tip #7: Force Players to Depend on Each Other
Community Tip #8: Manage Your Community
Community Tip #9: Obligation to Others Is Powerful
Community Tip #10: Create Community Events
The Challenge of Griefing
The Future of Game Communities
Other Reading to Consider
The Designer Usually Works with a Team
The Secret of Successful Teamwork
If You Can't Love the Game, Love the Audience
Designing Together
Team Communication
Other Reading to Consider
The Team Sometimes Communicates through Documents
The Myth of the Game Design Document
The Purpose of Documents
Types of Game Documents
So, Where Do I Start?
Other Reading to Consider
Good Games Are Created through Playtesting
My Terrible Secret
Playtest Question the First: Why?
Playtest Question the Second: Who?
Playtest Question the Third: Where?
Playtest Question the Fourth: What?
The First What: Things You Know You Are Looking For
The Second What: Things You Don't Know You Are Looking For
Playtest Question the Fifth: How?
Should You Even Be There?
What Do You Tell Them Up Front?
Where Do You Look?
What Other Data Should You Collect During Play?
Will I Disturb the Players Midgame?
What Data Will I Collect after the Play Session?
Other Reading to Consider
The Team Builds a Game with Technology
Technology, At Last
Foundational vs. Decorational
Mickey's First Cartoon
Sonic the Hedgehog
Ragdoll Physics
The Touch Revolution
The Hype Cycle
The Innovator's Dilemma
The Law of Divergence
The Singularity
Look into Your Crystal Ball
Other Reading to Consider
Your Game Will Probably Have a Client
Who Cares What the Client Thinks?
Coping with Bad Suggestions
Not That Rock
The Three Layers of Desire
Firenze, 1498
Other Reading to Consider
The Designer Gives the Client a Pitch
Why Me?
A Negotiation of Power
The Hierarchy of Ideas
Twelve Tips for a Successful Pitch
Pitch Tip #1: Get in the Door
Pitch Tip #2: Show You Are Serious
Pitch Tip #3: Be Organized
Pitch Tip #4: Be Passionate!!!!!
Pitch Tip #5: Assume Their Point of View
Pitch Tip #6: Design the Pitch
Pitch Tip #7: Know All the Details
Pitch Tip #8: Exude Confidence
Pitch Tip #9: Be Flexible
Pitch Tip #10: Rehearse
Pitch Tip #11: Get Them to Own It
Pitch Tip #12: Follow Up
Hey, What about Kickstarter?
Other Reading to Consider
The Designer and Client Want the Game to Make a Profit
Love and Money
Know Your Business Model
Direct Download
Free to Play
Know Your Competition
Know Your Audience
Learn the Language
General Game Business Terms
Free to Play Business Terms
Know the Top Sellers
The Importance of Barriers
Other Reading to Consider
Games Transform Their Players
How Do Games Change Us?
Can Games Be Good For You?
Emotional Maintenance
Giving the Brain What It Wants
Problem Solving
Systems of Relationships
New Insights
Creating Teachable Moments
Transformational Games
Transformational Tip #1: Define Your Transformation
Transformational Tip #2: Find Great Subject Matter Experts
Transformational Tip #3: What Does the Instructor Need?
Transformational Tip #4: Don't Do Too Much
Transformational Tip #5: Assess Transformation Appropriately
Transformational Tip #6: Choose the Right Venue
Transformational Tip #7: Accept the Realities of the Market
Can Games Be Bad For You?
Other Reading to Consider
Designers Have Certain Responsibilities
The Danger of Obscurity
Being Accountable
Your Hidden Agenda
The Secret Hidden in Plain Sight
The Ring
Other Reading to Consider
Each Designer Has a Purpose
The Deepest Theming
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Rating details

1,740 ratings
4.37 out of 5 stars
5 56% (980)
4 30% (515)
3 10% (174)
2 3% (55)
1 1% (16)
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