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Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals Hardcover – September 25, 2003

ISBN-13: 000-0262240459 ISBN-10: 0262240459

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 688 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press (September 25, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262240459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262240451
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

" Rules of Play is an exhaustive, clear, cogent, and complete resource for understanding games and game design. Salen and Zimmerman describe an encyclopedia of game design issues, techniques, and attributes. In particular, they analyze the elements that can make a game experience richer, more interesting, more emotional, more meaningful, and, ultimately, more successful. It should be the first stop you make when learning about game design." Nathan Shedroff , author of Experience Design



" Rules of Play makes a monumental contribution to the development of game theory, criticism, and design. It will instantly become a standard textbook in the field on the basis of its rigor and scope—yet it is written in such an engaging style that many will read it for pleasure. Salen and Zimmerman do for games what Sergei Eisenstein did for cinema—offer an expert practitioner"sperspective on central aspects of the aesthetics and cultural importance of an emerging medium." Henry Jenkins , Director of Comparative Media Studies, MIT



"This is the most impressive book on game design I've ever seen. Broad in scope yet rich in detail, Rules of Play sets a new standard for game analysis." Will Wright , Game Designer of Sim City and The Sims



"*Rules of Play* is an exhaustive, clear, cogent, and complete resource for understanding games and game design. Though successful, the game world is in dire need of innovation -- from the endless repetition of themes and structures, celebrity characters, and movie and television tie-ins -- and this book points the way forward. Salen and Zimmerman describe an encyclopedia of game design issues, techniques, and attributes. In particular, they analyze the elements that can make a game experience richer, more interesting, more emotional, more meaningful, and, ultimately, more successful. It should be the first stop you make when learning about game design."--Nathan Shedroff, author of *Experience Design 1*Please note: Endorser gives permission to excerpt from quote.



"This is the most impressive book on game design I've ever seen. Broad in scope yet rich in detail, *Rules of Play* sets a new standard for game analysis."--Wil Wright, Game Designer of *Sim City* and *The Sims*



"The future is created at the intersection of business, technology, design, and culture. *In the Bubble* is an insightful and delightful explanation of this nexus and of how each force affects the others. Designers often miss a great deal in their educations about the real people who will use and inhabit their work. Thackara astutely illuminates a lot of what designers don't know they're missing."--Nathan Shedroff, author of *Experience Design 1*

About the Author

Katie Salen Tekinbaş is Professor in the School of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University and Chief Designer and Researcher at Institute of Play.

Eric Zimmerman is a game designer, game design theorist, and co-founder and CEO of gameLab. He has taught at universities including MIT, the University of Texas, Parsons School of Design, New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts.

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Customer Reviews

There are very few books about the theory of game design.
Christopher Weuve
When I received a copy of this book I didn't have any solid expectations.
Jack Colon
If you are a really serious game design student you should get this book.
Jimmy Åberg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Weuve on August 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are very few books about the theory of game design. Most of the books which purport to be about game design theory have titles like _Game Design: Theory and Practice_ [Richard Rouse III: 2001], and focus much more on the latter than the former, usually in the context of commercial computer games. The exceptions to this rule generally approach the subject of game design theory from a particular perspective, e.g., as a communication method or "future's language." [Duke: 1974] So when _Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals_ (by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman) was published by MIT Press in 2004, I took immediate interest.

The book largely lived up to expectations. Weighing in at a hefty 672 pages of relatively small type, this textbook-format tome is, as the title might suggest, heavy on game design theory but light on practice. This makes it a excellent complement to the established game design literature.

Structurally, the book is fairly straightforward and is divided into four major sections: Core Concepts, Rules, Play, and Culture, each of which is capped by an essay or a game design by an established game designer written especially for this volume.

The first section (together with two brief chapters preceeding it) discusses necessary background ideas, defining important terms and presenting concepts to be built upon later. Besides preparing the reader for the next 500 pages, it's in this section that the authors accomplish one of their primary goals of the book: creating a game design vocabulary.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Derrick Coetzee on December 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
First, let me say that if you want to learn to use a technology like DirectX, OpenGL, C++, or Your Favorite Game Engine to build a computer game, this is absolutely not the book for you. Most of its examples don't even come from computer games, although the authors are fully aware of games like Warcraft and Unreal Tournament.

This is a book about *fundamentals of gameplay*, independent of any particular physical realization. It addresses the deep, underlying elements of designing an engaging, effective game, drawing on a variety of social and technical fields. The first unit focuses on defining the properties of effective games and the different "frames" or viewpoints from which they focus on gameplay. The rest of the book focuses on describing games from these viewpoints in a variety of ways by tying them into concepts used in other fields such as probability and semiotics. While one might expect such a drawing together of disparate elements to result in an wandering mishmash, the authors' continuous focus on the application of game design keeps this from occurring.

As for audience, this book does not require a background in mathematics, computer science, sociology, or any of the other areas it draws from; except for an assumed knowledge of various well-known games, it is self-contained. In fact, those with background in these areas may wish to skip a few sections that cover their basics. Just about anyone can read this book and get a lot out of it, although it is a deep treatment and requires careful thought to get the most out of it. Not a quick pleasure read.

It also evidently had a large budget, because it includes a variety of fitting photographs, commissioned games for the book to use, and a commissioned essay.
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're looking for a "how to" book on game design, don't buy Rules of Play. It won't tell you how to write a design doc, or how to reward players with powerups, or how to write puzzles, or how to work with technology. There's plenty of books that cover those aspects already (Richard Rouse, Ernest Adams, etc.)
Instead, Rules of Play is all about fundamental game concepts. What are games, really? What are the different models to look at games? Rules of Play gives you an enormous understanding of the actual mechanics of gameplay that no other book has offered to date.
Other reviewers are upset by the fact that this book uses both digital and board games as examples. A lot of them discredit the authors because they haven't designed any games they've heard about. That's pretty shortsighted, and unappreciative of the valuable high-level concepts presented in this book.
A game played with dice might not have Isomorphic Real-Time X-Treme Bloomed Shadowing Effects, but it does have a pureness that will allow you to look at the game undistracted by its superficial elements.
Is John Carmack more qualified to talk about games? If that's what you think, you're probably a programmer at heart -- not a game designer.
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64 of 75 people found the following review helpful By K. Sampanthar on January 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(NOTE: This is the final review of the book. I wrote preliminary reviews which have since been cleaned up by Amazon; unfortunately it looks like they left my negative review that was submitted to balance my multiple positive reviews.)
The Summary
This is the BEST BOOK ON BOARD GAME DESIGN that I have read and I have read many! The book is well written, it is thorough in its analysis, has references and bibliographies that allow you to explore the authors' research yourself. I had high expectations for this book and that normally leads to being a little disappointed, but this book not only met my high expectations but actually exceeded them! This book isn't for the impatient programmer who just wants to know how to write the next First Person Shooter, or the person who wants to be told some quick methods to come up with new ideas for games. This is for the serious student who wants to really understand game design and what it truly means to design immersive, balanced and compelling game play.
I have been reading and researching game design for over 10 years now. I have been writing computer games for over 20 years. Over the last 4 years I have been researching board games, since discovering the European board games that have been doing so well across the pond, I got hooked and realized that these games were the embodiment of great game design. I decided that to become better at designing computer games I should learn what makes games like Settler's of Catan and Carcassonne so compelling. So for the last few years I have been exploring the theory of game design. Since there wasn't much out on board game design specifically, I read newsgroups, web site articles and the plethora of books coming out on computer game design.
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