“Lisa, why don’t you review a REAL game for once”. Uh, no! Hey, you know what you should be doing instead of spending so much time playing your silly video games like Zoombinis and Call of Duty and the Mario? Maybe try reading a book? A book about… Video games! Haha! Gotcha! Video games rule. And books are ok. So here are my top five books for anyone who is interested in game development, WEEEEE.
1. Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton
This is kind of like a textbook, but a FUN one! It’s full of exercises that don’t feel like ‘work’ and will get you thinking critically about games. The exercises are typically pretty short and really fun; one which stood out asked me to explain the systems and mechanics of a childhood game I played. You know how complicated Tag is? Extremely! Anyway, it also has a slew of excerpts from prolific figures in the games industry including Warren Spector, Jenova Chen, Jane McGonigal and more!
2. Rise of the Videogame Zinesters by Anna Anthropy
Ever wanted to make a game? Did you know you can? There are no gatekeepers here! If you have ever thought about making games and need a kick of inspiration, Anna’s book is one to read. She discusses the shift from large big budget industry being the gatekeepers of game creation to the rise of indie creation online. She gives practical tools for creating your own game and addresses the subversive path these “videogame zinesters” have carved. Does it suck? It doesn’t matter! It’s yours, and starting is the hardest part.
3. Women in Game Development edited by Jennifer Brandes Hepler
Just as the title states, Women in Game Development is about… women in game development. Again, if you’re looking for inspiration, this is the book for you. The relentless passion that each woman speaks with is infectious. Game development is and should be for everyone, no matter your gender, sexuality, or ethnicity. The book’s validation is both inspiring and comforting, as female voices from each period in the history of gaming talk about their experiences.
4. A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster
Hey fun story, I almost met Raph Koster! This dude at the GDC (Game Developer’s Conference) was talking to me at the speakers’ party and was like “hey I was just talking to Raph Koster, he’s over there if you want me to introduce you?” and I was like “UHHHH no thank you!”. I’m very good at networking. ANYWAY this book was the first thing I read that made me start seriously thinking about video games as something outside of just a hobby. There are also a ton of cool pictures and it is written in a way that is accessible who don’t understand the sometimes extremely complicated game developer jargon.
5. Crash Override by Zoe Quinn
I burned through this incredible story in two days. Fair content warning of rape, death and abuse; a lot of the stuff Quinn discusses is extremely heavy. She goes into detail about the amount of online threats she received after her break up with an abusive partner spawned #GamerGate. Despite this the book has a tone of hope, stressing how the victims of bullying and abuse should not just simply “get off the Internet”. It talks about how we foster positivity and creativity and shut down hate with relentless support networks and tenderness and care. It also remains incredibly witty.