Below I’ll give you my selections for the best Game Design books by a few categories. I will cover these and other great books more in depth later.
- The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition (2014)
- Game Programming Patterns (2014)
- Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design (2019)
- Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design (2014)
- The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Third Edition (2019)
- Advanced Game Design: A Systems Approach: A Systems Approach (2017)
- Fundamentals of Game Design (3rd Edition) (2013)
- Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Fourth Edition (2018)
- Games, Design and Play: A detailed approach to iterative game design (2016)
- Indie Games: From Dream to Delivery (2018)
- Theory of Fun for Game Design (2013)
- Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping, and Development: From Concept to Playable Game with Unity and C# (2nd Edition) (2017)
- Procedural Storytelling in Game Design (2019)
- Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs (2016)
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Second Edition (2014)
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, 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.
Game Programming Patterns (2014)
The biggest challenge facing many game programmers is completing their game. Most game projects fizzle out, overwhelmed by the complexity of their own code. Game Programming Patterns tackles that exact problem. Based on years of experience in shipped AAA titles, this book collects proven patterns to untangle and optimize your game, organized as independent recipes so you can pick just the patterns you need.
Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design (2019)
Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms compiles hundreds of different mechanisms, organized by category. Each has a description of how it works, discussion of its pros and cons, how it can be implemented, and examples of specific games that use it. Building Blocks can be read cover to cover, used as a reference when looking for inspiration for a new design, help solving a specific problem, or assist in getting unstuck in the midst of a project.
Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design (2014)
If you want to design and build cutting-edge video games but aren’t sure where to start, then the SECOND EDITION of the acclaimed Level Up! is for you!
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Third Edition (2019)
Presents over 100 sets of questions, or different lenses, for viewing a game’s design. Written by one of the world’s top game designers, this book describes the deepest and most fundamental principles of game design, demonstrating how tactics used in board, card, and athletic games also work in video games.
Advanced Game Design: A Systems Approach: A Systems Approach (2017)
In , pioneering game designer and instructor Michael Sellers situates game design practices in a strong theoretical framework of systems thinking, enabling designers to think more deeply and clearly about their work, so they can produce better, more engaging games for any device or platform.
Fundamentals of Game Design (3rd Edition) (2013)
Now in its third edition, the classic book on game design has been completely revised to include the latest developments in the game industry. Readers will learn all the fundamentals of concept development, gameplay design, core mechanics, user interfaces, storytelling, and balancing. They’ll be introduced to designing for mobile devices and touch screens, as well as for the Kinect and motion-capture gameplay.
Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Fourth Edition (2018)
Game Design Workshop is a truly great book, and has become, in my opinion, the de facto standard text for beginner- to intermediate-level game design education. This updated new edition is extremely relevant, useful and inspiring to all kinds of game designers. ― Richard Lemarchand, Interactive Media & Games Division, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern California―――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――――This is the perfect time for a new edition.
Games, Design and Play: A detailed approach to iterative game design (2016)
This book offers a play-focused, process-oriented approach for designing games people will love to play. Drawing on a combined 35 years of design and teaching experience, Colleen Macklin and John Sharp link the concepts and elements of play to the practical tasks of game design.
Indie Games: From Dream to Delivery (2018)
Indie Games: from Dream to Delivery helps you do just that, by leading you through a guided conversation with yourself.Section by section, you’ll record your answers to carefully chosen questions. Then we’ll use your unique personal responses to build the customized roadmap you need to turn your indie game into reality.Techniques to use, traps to avoid, terminology to understand. And how to fit it all into your life without damaging your relationships or your future.Never started a business?
Theory of Fun for Game Design (2013)
Now in full color, the 10th anniversary edition of this classic book takes you deep into the influences that underlie modern video games, and examines the elements they share with traditional games such as checkers. At the heart of his exploration, veteran game designer Raph Koster takes a close look at the concept of fun and why it’s the most vital element in any game.Why do some games become boring quickly, while others remain fun for years?
Introduction to Game Design, Prototyping, and Development: From Concept to Playable Game with Unity and C# (2nd Edition) (2017)
If you want to design and develop games, there’s no substitute for strong hands-on experience with modern techniques and tools—and that is exactly what this book provides. The first edition was frequently the top-selling game design book on Amazon, with more than 70% of the reviews being 5 stars.
Procedural Storytelling in Game Design (2019)
This edited collection of chapters concerns the evolving discipline of procedural storytelling in video games. Games are an interactive medium, and this interplay between author, player and machine provides new and exciting ways to create and tell stories. In each essay, practitioners of this artform demonstrate how traditional storytelling tools such as characterization, world-building, theme, momentum and atmosphere can be adapted to full effect, using specific examples from their games.
Preproduction Blueprint: How to Plan Game Environments and Level Designs (2016)
“Preproduction Blueprint” is a complete system for planning your game environments and level designs. This could be for a playable level or a game environment exploration to show off in a portfolio. Planning process is called pre-production and what you end up with is a “Preproduction Blueprint”. It is an essential step to finishing your projects.
Best Game Design Books That You Need
We highly recommend you to buy all paper or e-books in a legal way, for example, on Amazon. But sometimes it might be a need to dig deeper beyond the shiny book cover. Before making a purchase, you can visit resources like Library Genesis and download some game design books mentioned below at your own risk. Once again, we do not host any illegal or copyrighted files, but simply give our visitors a choice and hope they will make a wise decision.
Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design: An Encyclopedia of Mechanisms
Author(s): Geoffrey Engelstein; Isaac Shalev
ID: 2423282, Publisher: Routledge, Year: July 13, 2019, Size: 7 Mb, Format: pdf
Game Design Tools. Cognitive, Psychological, and Practical Approaches
Author(s): Diego Ricchiuti
ID: 3531642, Publisher: CRC Press, Year: 2023, Size: 10 Mb, Format: pdf
The Board Game Designer's Guide to Careers in the Industry
Author(s): Joe Slack
ID: 3535440, Publisher: CRC Press, Year: 2023, Size: 7 Mb, Format: pdf
Please note that this booklist is not errorless. Some books are truly best-sellers according to The New York Times, others are written by unknown writers. On top of that, you can always find additional tutorials and courses on Coursera, Udemy or edX, for example. Are there any other relevant links you could recommend? Drop a comment if you have any feedback on the list.