Anyone can master the fundamentals of game design - no technological expertise is necessary. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses shows that the same basic principles of psychology that work for board games, card games and athletic games also are the keys to making top-quality videogames. Good game design happens when you view your game from many different perspectives, or lenses. While touring through the unusual territory that is game design, this book gives the reader one hundred of these lenses - one hundred sets of insightful questions to ask yourself that will help make your game better. These lenses are gathered from fields as diverse as psychology, architecture, music, visual design, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, writing, puzzle design, and anthropology. Anyone who reads this book will be inspired to become a better game designer - and will understand how to do it.
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Jesse Schell is professor 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. Formerly he was creative director of the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio. Schell worked as a designer, programmer, and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest. Schell received his undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon. He is also CEO of Schell Games, LLC, an independent game studio in Pittsburgh, and chairman of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). In 2004 he was named as one of the World's 100 Top Young Innovators by MIT's Technology Review.Review:
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, Gamasutra.com from Game Developer Magazine
"If you're nineteen and have no idea why you adore videogames―you’re just enchanted by them, you can’t help yourself―dude, is this ever the book for you. You are the core demographic for this particular textual experience. Put down the hand-controller, read the book right now. I can promise you that you will grow in moral and intellectual stature. Instead of remaining a twitchy, closeted, joystick geek, like you are now, you will emerge from this patient master-class as a surprisingly broadminded adult who quotes Herman Hesse and appreciates improvisational theater and Impressionist painting. You will no longer kill off parties with your Warcraft fixation. Instead, other people your age will find themselves mysteriously drawn to you ―to your air of quiet sympathy, your contemplative depth. Wise beyond your years, you will look beyond the surface details of shrieking monsters and into the deeper roots of human experience. Schell’s creative approach is full of autarchic frontier self-reliance. Out there on Tomorrowland’s Gameification Frontier, a theorist intellectual has to slaughter his own hogs and parse Aristotle’s Poetics on the back of a shovel. But boy, it sure is roomy over there. It’s a large, free, democratic book. It’s Emersonian in its cheery disorganization. The book's like a barbaric yawp from the top of a Nintendo console.. I'd read it now, before things get out of hand."
―Bruce Sterling, "Beyond the Beyond" blog, Wired.com
"... 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, Gamasutra.com, 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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