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9:42am on Wednesday, 11th October, 2006:

2% of Industry Books


Next Generation has a list of 50 books for everyone in the game industry, by Ernest Adams. My own book, Designing Virtual Worlds, is in there., which I'm rather pleased about (although not as pleased as I would be if people could actually buy it — the publishers don't seem to want to print any more copies).

I was surprised how many of the books I actually have — exactly 50%. The fact that I rate these enough to buy means I'm in general accordance with Ernest Adams' views of what makes a good games book, which in turn suggests that my own book isn't all that bad. Yay!

Just so you know, here are the ones from the list that I have a copy of:

  1. Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman
  2. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds, by Jesper Juul
  3. Unit Operations: An Approach to Videogame Criticism, by Ian Bogost
  4. Fundamentals of Game Design, by Ernest Adams and Andrew Rollings
  5. 21st Century Game Design, by Chris Bateman and Richard Boon
  6. Gender-Inclusive Game Design, by Sheri Graner Ray
  7. A Theory of Fun for Game Design, by Raph Koster
  8. Pause and Effect: The Art of Interactive Narrative, by Mark Stephen Meadows
  9. Developing Online Games: An Insiderís Guide, by Jessica Mulligan and Bridgette Petrovsky
  10. Designing Virtual Worlds, by Richard Bartle
  11. Community Building on the Web: Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities, by Amy Jo Kim
  12. The Ultimate History of Video Games, by Steven L. Kent
  13. Joystick Nation, by J.C. Herz
  14. Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence, by Gerard Jones
  15. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, by James Paul Gee
  16. From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games, edited by Justine Cassell and Henry Jenkins
  17. Postmortems from Game Developer, edited by Austin Grossman
  18. Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud
  19. Homo Ludens, by Johan Huizinga
  20. Man, Play, and Games, by Roger Caillois
  21. The Ambiguity of Play, by Brian Sutton-Smith
  22. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  23. Dungeons & Dragons Playerís Handbook, by various authors
  24. The Hero with a Thousand Faces, by Joseph Campbell
  25. Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace, by Janet H. Murray

There are some other books on the list that I'm never going to buy because they're too distant from my field (eg. The Fat Man on Game Audio: Tasty Morsels of Sonic Goodness, by George Alastair 'The Fat Man' Sanger). There are some I keep meaning to buy but never get around to it (Smartbomb: The Quest for Art, Entertainment, and Big Bucks in the Videogame Revolution by Heather Chaplin and Aaron Ruby; Masters of Doom, by David Kushner). There's at least one I will not buy on principle.

There are other books that I've looked at but didn't buy because I already have what I think is a better (for me) alternative (eg. I didn't buy The Xbox 360 Uncloaked by Dean Takahashi because I already have The Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder; I didn't buy Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, by Robert McKee because I already have Screenplay by Syd Field; I didn't buy Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames, edited by Chris Bateman because I already have Character Development and Storytelling for Games by Lee Sheldon). I probably should buy them, but they cost money.

As for books that I'd recommend but that aren't on Ernest Adams' list, well there are plenty. I'm not about to rise to the bait of actually listing them, though, except to mention two not featured above that I use for my courses: Game Architecture and Design by Andrew Rollings and Dave Morris; Game Development and Production by Erik Bethke.

I wonder what the list of articles and research papers that everyone should read would look like?

Referenced by Revision.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).