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Subject: Looking for a good book on board game design rss

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Paul Incao
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Any recomended reading for someone looking to seriously consider designing their own games. Focus should be less on the business of getting your game ideas published and more on fundamentals to ensure success....what makes a good game.
Many of the books I have seen cross over to video gaming which is not my interest.
Would appreciate any suggestions.
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David Cunkelman
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I haven't seen/read any books on board game design, but there are a lot of helpful posts here on the geek:

Game Design & Self-Publishing – A Resource for Game Designers

I have 120+ game prototypes to play!

Those are two I added to my quickbar a while back. I'm sure there are more educated geeks here that can add to your request (which I can now follow... )

Hope those help!

On a side note as an aspiring game designer myself, I think playing tons of games and letting yourself be creative go a long way to fusing ideas with the knowledge of what works. First step is to just start writing, drawing, cutting and pasting... Keep good notes and refer back to the beginning to retrace your path for renewed inspiration if you get side tracked or feel like you've walked yourself to a dead end. Trust your instincts, follow you gut and once you've got something pasted up, round up your family and friends and subject them to the torture that is play testing! Once they give you all kinds of praise (ever seen American Idol auditions?), get a group of game players together, give them the rule book and pieces and see what happens. That will tell you where you are really at.

Good luck!


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Paul Incao
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3ripmav wrote:
I haven't seen/read any books on board game design, but there are a lot of helpful posts here on the geek:

Game Design & Self-Publishing – A Resource for Game Designers

I have 120+ game prototypes to play!

Those are two I added to my quickbar a while back. I'm sure there are more educated geeks here that can add to your request (which I can now follow... )

Hope those help!

On a side note as an aspiring game designer myself, I think playing tons of games and letting yourself be creative go a long way to fusing ideas with the knowledge of what works. First step is to just start writing, drawing, cutting and pasting... Keep good notes and refer back to the beginning to retrace your path for renewed inspiration if you get side tracked or feel like you've walked yourself to a dead end. Trust your instincts, follow you gut and once you've got something pasted up, round up your family and friends and subject them to the torture that is play testing! Once they give you all kinds of praise (ever seen American Idol auditions?), get a group of game players together, give them the rule book and pieces and see what happens. That will tell you where you are really at.

Good luck!





Thanks David. These are very helpful suggestions. Your approach is very consistent with my own thoughts. I really enjoy the creative rush when starting a new game projects. I find the game concepts come together rather quickly, I just want to get better at developing unique mechanics, creating difficult decisions, and ensuring game balance with multiple paths to victory.

My recent interest has been on gaining a better understanding of feedback loops in games to ensure quality.

I first heard about this when viewing the following Scott Nicholson video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgRfwFh8kBQ

Thanks again and good luck to you as well.



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Steven Metzger
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I wouldn't call it "good" just yet, but it's got at least many of the pitfalls of game design clearly mapped out...okay maybe not clearly and concisely, but the ridiculous stories of attempted submissions are pretty hilarious. It does have some fascinatingly glaring editing errors...

I bought it in-person at Powell's (www.powells.com) while I was up there over New Year's, but I figure you could probably find it somewhere else too I might be willing to part with my copy...
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Jim Harmon
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I haven't read this yet but have it reserved at the library. I believe it focused on board games and how to succeed in the business.

Paid to play : the business of game design by Meyers
 
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Christopher Incao
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metzgerism wrote:

I wouldn't call it "good" just yet, but it's got at least many of the pitfalls of game design clearly mapped out...okay maybe not clearly and concisely, but the ridiculous stories of attempted submissions are pretty hilarious. It does have some fascinatingly glaring editing errors...

I bought it in-person at Powell's (www.powells.com) while I was up there over New Year's, but I figure you could probably find it somewhere else too I might be willing to part with my copy...


http://www.amazon.com/Game-Inventors-Guidebook-Role-Playing-...
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Andy Van Zandt
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Paid to Play and the Game Inventor's Guidebook are both more business end than design end... more like industry primers. Paid to Play does talk on actual design a little bit more than GIG, but nothing substantial.

Rules of Play
Challenges for Game Designers
and
Game Design Workshop

are all much meatier and i think touch what you're looking for more thoroughly. In specific, Game Design Workshop has a heavier focus on iterative improvement (which sounds like what you want)- however, you do have to put up with the occasional chapter which is more suited for video game design. but on the whole, it covers "game design" as a cross-medium thing.
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Read this online: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/

There is a whole course which includes heaps of secondary references.

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Paul Incao
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truekid wrote:
Paid to Play and the Game Inventor's Guidebook are both more business end than design end... more like industry primers. Paid to Play does talk on actual design a little bit more than GIG, but nothing substantial.

Rules of Play
Challenges for Game Designers
and
Game Design Workshop

are all much meatier and i think touch what you're looking for more thoroughly. In specific, Game Design Workshop has a heavier focus on iterative improvement (which sounds like what you want)- however, you do have to put up with the occasional chapter which is more suited for video game design. but on the whole, it covers "game design" as a cross-medium thing.

These were two of the books I was considering.
Challenges for Game Designers I actually ordered from amazon.com this week and it arrived today. Game Design Workshop was in my cart and is now ordered.
These both look very good. Thanks






 
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Paul Incao
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ZirkvandenBerg wrote:
Read this online: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/

There is a whole course which includes heaps of secondary references.


This looks like an excellent resource. Thanks !!!
 
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Angela Hickman Newnham
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I highly recommend "The Art of Game Design, A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schnell. It IS targeted for video game designers, but it has a lot of applicability for board game design as well and is one of the best books I have ever read. It gave me a lot of things to think about, and I don't think you should let it's usefulness to video game designers deter you from picking up the great concepts in this book

http://artofgamedesign.com/

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Paul Incao
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corduroy wrote:
I highly recommend "The Art of Game Design, A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schnell. It IS targeted for video game designers, but it has a lot of applicability for board game design as well and is one of the best books I have ever read. It gave me a lot of things to think about, and I don't think you should let it's usefulness to video game designers deter you from picking up the great concepts in this book

http://artofgamedesign.com/



Thanks.
 
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Doug Bass
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There is also a book called Rules of Play by Salen and Zimmerman. I bought it, but I'm not sure how good it is because I haven't read it yet. Maybe someone who has can let us both know if it's any good
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Paul Incao
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dougbass68 wrote:
There is also a book called Rules of Play by Salen and Zimmerman. I bought it, but I'm not sure how good it is because I haven't read it yet. Maybe someone who has can let us both know if it's any good


Thanks. That would help.
 
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Andy Van Zandt
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Rules of Play is a very very good book- however it is a textbook... and reads like one. additionally, it's less focused on iterative process and is a broader look at games as a whole- it does thoroughly cover tons of things that you won't find in other books, but i maintain my prior suggestion for ~Workshop, based on the original poster's desired criteria.
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Philip Migas
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Here are my thoughts:
Before you read any books I would go through Game Design Concepts: Online design course: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/ . This website has more good theory and useful information about game design in a small area than any of the books I have read yet.

The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses by Jesse Schell. There was a ton of good theory and practical information in this book. It is geared for game designers but almost all of the chapters are applicable. The best part is that it is easy to read. I would recommend this one over any other “Design” book.

Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber. This book is about board game design. It was write for use in a classroom setting. There are a bunch of good challenges to get you designing.

The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between! by Brian Tinsman who is a game professional that discuss your publishing options. This is more about the industry and how to get a game published. It is good if you do not have clue about the industry. It is a little longer and in depth than the next book.

Paid to Play: The Business of Game Design by Keith Meyers who is a game professional that discuss your publishing options. If you don’t like reading and don’t have a clue about publishing games, this is the book for you. If you can’t get through this book in one week, do not try and design games. It is too hard for you. You can view Keith Meyers website at http://www.gamedesigncentral.com/

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. I give this book a thumbs-up for trying to put as much information in one place about game design. It gets a thumbs down for the writing style. This is a text book. Good for maybe teaching a class about computer game design, but it is really dry reading. Sometime I had to skip sections because it did not make a whole lot of sense. I could probably have figured it out but it was not worth my time.

Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster. This is a book about why games are important and fun. It is interesting to read and quoted in a several other places about game design. My biggest problem is that I was not convinced of the theory.

Other books that I have not gotten around to yet are:
The Game Inventor's Handbook by Stephen Peek
Game Design, by Bob Bates light on theory, but strong on practicality.
Game Design: Theory and Practice, by Richard Rouse
Game Design Workshop, by Tracy Fullerton
Game Development Essentials: An Introduction, by Jeannie Novak (Video Game Development)
The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook by Richard Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner
Patterns in Game Design, by Bjork and Holopainen -- very dull, and tough sledding, but think of it as a laundry list of a huge number of different game mechanics. As an exercise, it's worth flipping the book over to three different pages, and thinking about how you'd create a game using those three concepts as core. (comments were from the post I pulled the title from)

Most books you read about game design are geared toward digital designers. Board game designers do not bring in enough money / product to make it an industry. Most games are still being designed out of garages. Reading a book about design can still be interesting and provide tools to help you design non-digital games. The biggest trap of books is that they are only a little helpful. You will learn more about designing a game by doing than reading. If you are really serious, than you should network with local area designers. Joining or starting a game design club would be better than reading a book.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful.
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Paul Incao
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pmigas wrote:
Here are my thoughts:
Before you read any books I would go through Game Design Concepts: Online design course: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/ . This website has more good theory and useful information about game design in a small area than any of the books I have read yet.

The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses by Jesse Schell. There was a ton of good theory and practical information in this book. It is geared for game designers but almost all of the chapters are applicable. The best part is that it is easy to read. I would recommend this one over any other “Design” book.

Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber. This book is about board game design. It was write for use in a classroom setting. There are a bunch of good challenges to get you designing.

The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between! by Brian Tinsman who is a game professional that discuss your publishing options. This is more about the industry and how to get a game published. It is good if you do not have clue about the industry. It is a little longer and in depth than the next book.

Paid to Play: The Business of Game Design by Keith Meyers who is a game professional that discuss your publishing options. If you don’t like reading and don’t have a clue about publishing games, this is the book for you. If you can’t get through this book in one week, do not try and design games. It is too hard for you. You can view Keith Meyers website at http://www.gamedesigncentral.com/

Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman. I give this book a thumbs-up for trying to put as much information in one place about game design. It gets a thumbs down for the writing style. This is a text book. Good for maybe teaching a class about computer game design, but it is really dry reading. Sometime I had to skip sections because it did not make a whole lot of sense. I could probably have figured it out but it was not worth my time.

Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster. This is a book about why games are important and fun. It is interesting to read and quoted in a several other places about game design. My biggest problem is that I was not convinced of the theory.

Other books that I have not gotten around to yet are:
The Game Inventor's Handbook by Stephen Peek
Game Design, by Bob Bates light on theory, but strong on practicality.
Game Design: Theory and Practice, by Richard Rouse
Game Design Workshop, by Tracy Fullerton
Game Development Essentials: An Introduction, by Jeannie Novak (Video Game Development)
The Toy and Game Inventor's Handbook by Richard Levy and Ronald O. Weingartner
Patterns in Game Design, by Bjork and Holopainen -- very dull, and tough sledding, but think of it as a laundry list of a huge number of different game mechanics. As an exercise, it's worth flipping the book over to three different pages, and thinking about how you'd create a game using those three concepts as core. (comments were from the post I pulled the title from)

Most books you read about game design are geared toward digital designers. Board game designers do not bring in enough money / product to make it an industry. Most games are still being designed out of garages. Reading a book about design can still be interesting and provide tools to help you design non-digital games. The biggest trap of books is that they are only a little helpful. You will learn more about designing a game by doing than reading. If you are really serious, than you should network with local area designers. Joining or starting a game design club would be better than reading a book.

Good luck and I hope this was helpful.


Thanks. This is great advise. Working on your own game designs, as well as play testing with other designers, gets your mind in the right place creatively and is the best learning experience.
 
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Andy Van Zandt
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pmigas wrote:

Other books that I have not gotten around to yet are:


Peek's book is the single best book on the business end that i've read. Tinsman's and Meyer's are good primers, but the meat is in Peek's.

also, don't waste your time on "Toy and Game Inventor's~". it's 99% fluff and trivia.
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Shaun Higgins
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What are people's opinions on Game Design by Lewis Pulsipher? Have any better books been written since this thread began 5 years ago?
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Nate Bivins

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I'll second (or third) "The Art of Game Design, A Book of Lenses" by Jesse Schnell.

It's a great read and very helpful.
 
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http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1322663/game-design-help...

Would something like that be interesting for you?
The idea behind is, that it guides you through the whole process of inventing a game, providing provokatie questions as well as hints and motivational feedback … but in a playful manner?
 
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Kathleen Mercury
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The most helpful book I've found is Mike Selinker's Kobold Guide to Board Game Design.
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Teresa Jackson
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funkdonut wrote:
The most helpful book I've found is Mike Selinker's Kobold Guide to Board Game Design.


Totally agree. The chapters are by giants in the gaming industry. Selinker edits and adds a couple of chapters of his own.

I found Tinsman's book a waste if time.

Selinker recommends Theory of Fun. I haven't read it yet, but I will.
 
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There are a lot of books and articles and video lectures listed on this page:

http://www.jamesmathe.com/so-you-want-to-be-a-tabletop-game-...

James
 
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There is also "Running a Game Publishing Company" from Steve Cole of ADB. It is free and might be of interested if you need info on the publishing side of things:

http://www.warehouse23.com/products/running-a-game-publishin...

There is a listed chapter on game design, but it is not the focus of the book.
 
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