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Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games [Paperback]

by Tracy Fullerton
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 8, 2008 0240809742 978-0240809748 2
Master the craft of game design so you can create that elusive combination of challenge, competition, and interaction that players seek. This design workshop begins with an examination of the fundamental elements of game design; then puts you to work in prototyping, playtesting and redesigning your own games with exercises that teach essential design skills.

Workshop exercises require no background in programming or artwork, releasing you from the intricacies of electronic game production, so you can develop a working understanding of the essentials of game design.

Editorial Reviews


Game design is something of a black art. The trick to doing it well is retaining the black magic but training oneself to control it. There are a lot of books on game design out there, but "Game Design Workshop" is among the very few that develops a wizard rather than a drone.
-Ian Bogost, professor of digital media, the Georgia Institute of Technology and co-founder, Persuasive Games

About the Author

Tracy Fullerton, M.F.A., is a game designer, educator and writer with fifteen years of professional experience. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Interactive Media Division of the USC School of Cinema-Television where she serves as Co-Director of the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab. Recent credits include faculty advisor for the award-winning student game Cloud, and game designer for The Night Journey a unique game/art project with media artist Bill Viola. Prior to joining the USC faculty, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance's games included NBC's Weakest Link, MTV's webRIOT, The WB's No Boundaries, History Channel's History IQ, Sony Game Show Network's Inquizition and TBS's Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Tracy was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive. As a producer and creative director she created games and interactive products for clients including Sony, Intel, Microsoft, AdAge, Ticketmaster, Compaq, and Warner Bros. among many others.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: CRC Press; 2 edition (February 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240809742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240809748
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 7.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-have for aspiring game designers March 25, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The top rating is well-deserved -- this book is both thorough and well-written. Fullerton provides in-depth discussion and a progressive approach to introducing the material. It begins with the absolute basics, discussing the basics of where game ideas come from, and ends with a treatise on the inner-workings of the game publishing industry.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about game development, as a trade, and especially for anyone looking to do it as a profession.

There were so many things to love about this book, but three things really stand out in my mind as being particularly awesome:

1. The "Designer Perspective" sidebars (insight into how some famous game designers got started and some behind-the-scenes knowledge about the industry)
2. The focus on iterative-design (prototype and test early and often)
3. The Exercises (real application exercises that hold your hand through the development of games, and of yourself as a career designer)

There were basically only two things I *didn't* like about this book, and they are purely circumstantial.

The first thing is that this book is college-textbook dense. Seriously. The page-count is just shy of 450 pages, and each page is divided into two columns, with a relatively small font-size. It was a beast to get through. There were many times when finishing the book felt like a daunting task, particularly towards the end.

The second thing that I wished was different was that the book's focus changes almost completely to digital game development (video games).
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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Search Has Ended! February 27, 2008
This book is honestly an answer to my prayers! I'm using the first half of this superb book to remodel my introductory game design class & after school game design club. The included exercises are definitely geared toward capturing the attention of the type of kids I want to attract to my program. I think I'm going to have to buy a 2nd book as my son is using the last half of the book to develop and market his senior game project and plan for his Indie game company :)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Game Design Book for starters January 20, 2014
I am making a board game and after searching for books about game design I found this book. After reading it a little bit and comparing it with others I realised is the best book to start with.


- First, the book explains what a game is and its elements. Then it explains all the process of game design and finally it talks about working in the game industry. So this is a good overview of what is needed to start as a game designer.
- The book has a lot of examples of video games, board games and card games to explain each topic.
- Easy to read but more than enough for starters on game design.
- It has a lot of experienced designers perpectives on different topics, with good tips from them!
- Well edited with pictures and well organised

The only thing I would change of the book is that I would focus more on tabletop game design.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent resource January 20, 2014
By sine
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An amazing read for anyone interested in game design, whether those games are digital or tabletop. Great thought experiments and exercises in each chapter. Excellent analysis of a wide variety of genres and approaches, and very fun to read. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource August 15, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Must read for anyone considering engaging in the practice of game design. I'll be recommending it to many of my students.
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13 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful analysis of a complicated industry November 3, 2008
This book is really phenomenol. I am a two decade veteran from the industry and only somewhat recently stumbled across Fullerton's work. In this book you will encounter a rich analysis of the industry that covers various insight from numerous perspectives. Her writing style is very engaging while also being analytical; providing observations about common topics expressed in ways I had not heard before - or at least put so eloquently. I'm a big fan of the book.

So why only 4 stars and not 5? I like to think that 5 stars for anything just requires excellence that is at a whole different level. A Pixar Animation Studios "5 stars" level - if you know what I'm saying. My one complaint about the book would be that embedded within the book are exercises forcing the reader - I should say strongly encouraging the reader - to partake in applying the knowledge; or more fairly sometimes learning about the industry through observation of real-world product. I think this is all very good to be honest. But the consequence of this is that often if the reader doesn't have time to devote to these exercises (or isn't home while reading), they might feel compelled to delay reading until they can execute said exercises. Or maybe it's just me? Since I read a lot of my books during my commute on the bus, I often find myself struggling to get through this book in its entirety. Probably most people would just blow off the exercises but then again I think you'd miss a lot of Fullerton's message if you did that.

So that's why only 4 of 5 stars. But really, it's my commute-on-the-bus' fault - not the book's. I strongly suggest anyone interested in learning more about the process of Game Design to check out this literary work. There are some great "real-world" stories from other people in the industry so it provides a well rounded view and I have yet to find a book that covers so much interesting ground so effortlessly. Now, back to my exercises...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars simply amazing
This book take you by hand and drives you all the path to understand, like, accomplish you creative idea. Read more
Published 8 months ago by alesworld
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is an excellent book. It presents a very logical and understandable framework for designing a game. It helped make me a hero in the eyes of my manager.
Published 11 months ago by Geogy
5.0 out of 5 stars structure the creative chaos
as a new game developer, i find this workbook is well-organized, with effective exercises for many stages of game design.
Published 13 months ago by new moon beader
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Introduction To Game Design
I needed this book for school, still I find it pretty good. My only dislike is the price. It is too expensive.
Published 18 months ago by AGB
5.0 out of 5 stars I like it!
The book is about playcentric approach to game development. It's very powerfull idea about playtesting the game during all the developer process since idea to release. Read more
Published 22 months ago by fedoit
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book!
This book is a great read if you are planning a career in Game Design. In currently studying game development and this is the only book I really need. Read more
Published on October 17, 2011 by Hanyo
5.0 out of 5 stars A doctorate in video game design?
There is a lot of information in this book. It is a fabulous text and reference, but it's quite a commitment by to get through. Read more
Published on August 22, 2011 by Charles Frederick
5.0 out of 5 stars AMAZING BOOK!
Seriously, this is the best book on game design i have read so far, and I have read quite a few. I definitely recommend it. Read more
Published on July 28, 2011 by Alexandre Goncalves
5.0 out of 5 stars A great survey to the fundamentals of game design
With the success that videogames have enjoyed in our popular culture, there have been no shortage of books written on the subject of design: Game Design Workshop should be a... Read more
Published on February 20, 2011 by J. Olin
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book.
This book covers a LOT (if not everything) you want to know as a game designer, or someone interested in that field of study. Read more
Published on August 28, 2010 by Senam
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