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Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games 2nd Edition

22 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0240809748
ISBN-10: 0240809742
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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: Morgan Kaufmann; 2 edition (February 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0240809742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0240809748
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 7.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #177,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Aaron Hill on 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Isaac Hidalgo Tarrason on January 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
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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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By J. Strach on November 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Scott A. Jacobson on February 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
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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By sine on January 20, 2014
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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