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Chris Crawford on Game Design Paperback – June 28, 2003

ISBN-13: 007-6092021681 ISBN-10: 0131460994 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (June 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0131460994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0131460997
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Author

When I wrote The Art of Computer Game Design way back in 1981, I really didn't know what I was doing; I wrote the book as a way to sort out my thoughts on game design. That effort helped me solidify my philosophy of game design -- and incidentally became a classic in the field. That book was a bunch of lucky guesses and inspired hunches. This book, by contrast, looks back on a career in game design spanning 25 years, and attempts to digest the lessons of that career. Back then, with so little experience to draw on, I was absolutely certain of my conclusions. This time around, I'm not so sure -- but I've got some humdinger stories to tell. Will this book be a classic 25 years from now? Maybe so, maybe not, but one thing I'm sure of: 25 years from now, people will still be laughing over some of the crazy design misadventures I lived to tell about.

From the Back Cover

Chris Crawford on Game Design is all about the foundational skills behind the design and architecture of a game. Without these skills, designers and developers lack the understanding to work with the tools and techniques used in the industry today. Chris Crawford, the most highly sought after expert in this area, brings an intense opinion piece full of personality and flare like no other person in this industry can. He explains the foundational and fundamental concepts needed to get the most out of game development today. An exceptional precursor to the two books soon to be published by New Riders with author Andrew Rollings, this book teaches key lessons; including, what you can learn from the history of game play and historical games, necessity of challenge in game play, applying dimensions of conflict, understanding low and high interactivity designs, watching for the inclusion of creativity, and understanding the importance of storytelling. In addition, Chris brings you the wish list of games he'd like to build and tells you how to do it. Game developers and designers will kill for this information!


More About the Author

Chris Crawford earned a Master of Science degree in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1975. After teaching physics for several years, he joined Atari as a game designer in 1979. There he created a number of games: Energy Czar, an educational simulation about the energy crisis, Scram, a nuclear power plant simulation, Eastern Front (1941), a wargame, Gossip, a social interaction game, and Excalibur, an Arthurian game.
Following the collapse of Atari in 1984, Crawford took up the Macintosh. He created Balance of Power, a game about diplomacy, Patton Versus Rommel, a wargame, Trust & Betrayal, a social interaction game, Balance of the Planet, an environmental simulation game, and Patton Strikes Back, a wargame. In 1992, Crawford decided to leave game design and concentrate his energies on interactive storytelling, a field that he believed would become important. He created a major technology for interactive storytelling systems, patenting it in 1997. He is now commercializing his technology at his company website at storytron.com.
Crawford has written five published books: The Art of Computer Game Design, now recognized as a classic in the field, in 1982; Balance of Power (the book) in 1986; The Art of Interactive Design in 2002; Chris Crawford on Game Design in 2003; and Chris Crawford on Interactive Storytelling in 2004.
He created the first periodical on game design, the Journal of Computer Game Design, in 1987. He founded and served as Chairman of the Computer Game Developers' Conference, now known as the Game Developers' Conference.
Crawford has given hundreds of lectures at conferences and universities around the world, and published dozens of magazine articles and academic papers.
Crawford served as computer system designer and observer for the 1999 and 2002 NASA Leonid MAC airborne missions; he also has done some analysis of the resulting data. He lives in southern Oregon with his wife, 3 dogs, 7 cats, 2 ducks, and 3 burros.
His current work is in interactive storytelling. After seventeen years of work, Crawford's company, Storytron, is releasing its technology to the public at www.storytron.com.

Customer Reviews

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I used to think that this book had some sort of flaw in its conception.
Jonathan Beyrak Lev
I thank Crawford for writing this book and hope that others will write on the same level...soon.
joshua wilson
There's lots of retrospectives on other games that Mr. Crawford has designed.
Antonio A. Rodriguez

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Fletcher Dunn on November 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
I have been making video games for about 7 years and have reached the top technical position I can at my company. So I wanted to learn some more about game design.

I bought 3 books on game design. The first, I discarded after 5 minutes of browsing as full of common sense and no real meat. (Be warned - there are lots of books on game design like that out there.)

Here's really where I think this book is different. I devoured this book in one siting. It's interesting and thought provoking, and I honestly came away feeling like I had some more insight into making games.

High points:

* Some interesting theories (or perhaps opinions masquerading as theories, but I mostly liked them all) about what is at the heart of a good game. Why do people "play?" Why is interactivity so important

* Lots of examples of games he felt had good design, and some analysis of what made them good.

* A list of common mistakes people make when trying to make games.

* A list of game ideas! He has a list of game ideas he's had that he's never turned into games.

* Plenty of war stories about how some of his games came into being, including the political battles and the evolution of ideas.

* PLENTY of strong opinions. This guy is opinionated. He either likes it or he hates it. I didn't agree with everything he said, but I enjoyed the way in which he pursued his arguments.

* An eye-opener as to just how narrow our industry really is, versus the range of games that we could be making. This, to me, was the most inspiring. He basically says that we've dug a hole for ourselves, and will have a hard time climbing out of it and becoming a mass-market medium.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By K. Sampanthar on December 13, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Anybody who is familiar with Chris Crawford won't be surprised to know that his latest book on game design is littered with opinions! Also they wouldn't be surprised to know that there are some real gems of insight buried within the morasses of fluff and opinion. This book is a `MUST READ" for that 19% of insight.
His rants, side tracks and "old fart stories" are always amusing, I am sure some people will take offense and unfortunately they probably wouldn't get past the first few chapters and hence miss out some great thoughts on game design.
This should not be your only book on game design in your library, but it should definitely be there. Chris's thoughts on creativity, his list of "games I would like to write" and analysis of his games are worth the entry price alone.
Overlook the ego, be amused by rants and stories, ignore the author's over use of a thesaurus to sound smart but most definitely take note of his insights.
Only 4 stars, but no books with this much bias can truly get 5.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By GameMaker VINE VOICE on November 30, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with what most of the other reviewers have said, but I guess I enjoyed it slightly less.

The first thing to know about this book is that you'll learn next to nothing about game design by reading it. Crawford even lists some *other* books to read to learn the subject.

This book if first and foremost about curling up by a fireside and listening to (reading) someone with an enormous ego and an equally large chip on his shoulder, rant about the video game industry. He'll tell you you'll never make it, he'll tell you good design is essential in the success of a game project, and laugh at projects that failed due to (he claims) bad game design. Then you'll hear him tell you what a bad designer Carmack (sp?) of Doom fame is, and how the best game he (Crawford) ever designed was a huge commercial flop. And lots of other borderline crazy rantings. There's also a lot of completely worthless fluff in the book, like really long-winded, pointless excercises in trying to define certain words like "game" and "interactive" and so forth.

But tucked in between the ranting, boasting, and fluff, almost by accident, there seem to be a few thought provoking passages and some decently entertaining stories. I'm not sorry that I read this book, but I have trouble giving it a high recommendation to others. You should at least know what you're getting yourself into before reading it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Beyrak Lev on September 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
I used to think that this book had some sort of flaw in its conception. It's written by one of the greatest game designers of all time, who is also the number one computer game theorist in the world, yet it neither teaches the craft of game design nor does it contain any great theoretical breakthroughs. There are important concepts in here, as well as many useful points, but it really doesn't seem to live up to Crawford's reputation.

But I was wrong. This book is perfect for what it sets out to do. It is designed as a complex, long-winded, utterly convincing argument aimed at the games industry, with the sole purpose of opening the reader's eyes to the sad truth - the computer games industry is in a dire situation from an artistic and creative perspective, and it's only getting worse.

Among other things, Crawford exorcises many of the buzzwords that haunt the dialogue of game design, presenting principles that are so much cleaner and more accurate than we've come to expect from game design books. He contends that "fun" is not a sufficient design goal for a game, indeed, that it's hardly a design goal at all, and presents what served as his goals on his many game projects. He gives examples of several games he'd like to make, each of which is completely different from anything ever seen on the market, although they are all great ideas, and this just serves to prove how narrow the creative emphasis of the games industry is.

This book is the painful look in the mirror that the games industry needs so badly. It lucidly explains what went wrong and why, and what needs to be done differently. If you are a serious person interested in games, then this is an excellent book to learn why today's games are less and less worthy of your attention.
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