Customer Reviews


109 Reviews
5 star:
 (88)
4 star:
 (13)
3 star:
 (6)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year
Jesse Schell, game design professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote an introductory book that was published in August, titled "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses." The back overleaf quotes Will Wright saying, "Easily the most comprehensive, practical book I've ever seen on game design." I will try to briefly state why I agree and offer details to help you...
Published on January 3, 2009 by Ethan Kennerly

versus
62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book; Kindle edition has formatting problems
NOTE: this is for the Kindle edition of the book.

Well written, informative and also a fun read. Other reviewers have other covered this, so I'll stop here: 5 stars for content.

Be warned if purchasing the Kindle edition that the formatting in the book has problems: margins are way too large in a number of places, the original index isn't hyperlinked...
Published on November 27, 2011 by Aaron Lahman


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

112 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year, January 3, 2009
By 
Ethan Kennerly (Los Angeles, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Jesse Schell, game design professor at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote an introductory book that was published in August, titled "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses." The back overleaf quotes Will Wright saying, "Easily the most comprehensive, practical book I've ever seen on game design." I will try to briefly state why I agree and offer details to help you decide if this book is for you.

Each chapter of the book adds a node to a network of relationships between the designer, the game, and the player. Throughout, Schell boxes 100 tips, with questions that induce a novel perspective on the design. He calls these lenses. I applaud the volume of diverse traditions, such as: psychology, storytelling, engineering, business, and management. They are so diverse as to change not only perspective, but also target. "The Lens of the Puzzle" looks at the mechanisms of the game; whereas, "The Lens of the Team" looks at the developers of the game. This is an eclectic approach that distills many abstract tips on what to consider when designing. Some experience and diligence with most of the 100 lenses would almost guarantee the reader is a competent designer.

Most lenses seemed crystal clear and provoked thoughts. Oftentimes, Schell deploys the wheels that others have invented. Many lenses refer to prior literature, such as Barry Boehm's spiral model of development (82), Scott Kim's thoughts on puzzles (209).

Furthermore, Schell gives us some original gems on the psychology of games that expanded my mind. He touches on the tactile aesthetics of the Rubik's cube (213), the learning curve of a jigsaw puzzle (215). He has some tips on personal communication that, upon reflection, exposed mistakes I have made, and would be more likely to continue to make had I not read Schell's advice. For example, in "Coping with Bad Suggestions," rather than agree or disagree, he advises to "understand why the client is making the suggestion" (417). He gives similarly important advice for playtesting (389).

Perhaps the inevitable danger of writing a comprehensive book is that one's own rough facets become apparent when placed side-by-side with one's brilliance. In a few spots, I would like to see wheels being reused rather than reinvented, such as mathematical graphs (132), epistemics of players (139), military tactics (141), risk and return (181), interface affordances (212), models of human-computer interaction (225), and plotting interest (247). I don't disagree with what Schell wrote there, but would rather dive deeper by leveraging prior literature (as he did in other lenses).

The book is well-presented with modest illustrations and easy to read from beginning to end. On an editorial note, although I affirm Schell's eclectic approach to game design, after reading the book, I wish it were easier to find the information I wanted to refer to. The table of lenses at the front of the book was not enough for me. The lens titles are not always evocative and distinct.

To summarize:
* What you will find in this book: informal habits of a professional game designer.
* What you will not find in this book: details or examples of designs and their implementation.

Game Developer magazine nominated The Art of Game Design for the Book of the Year. It got my vote.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


62 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book; Kindle edition has formatting problems, November 27, 2011
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
NOTE: this is for the Kindle edition of the book.

Well written, informative and also a fun read. Other reviewers have other covered this, so I'll stop here: 5 stars for content.

Be warned if purchasing the Kindle edition that the formatting in the book has problems: margins are way too large in a number of places, the original index isn't hyperlinked properly (basically just a word list), and figure captions are often misplaced. It's legible, but not of professional quality, and certainly not worth the nearly paperback price they're asking for. 2 stars for typesetting.

If you can, buy a physical copy instead.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


58 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Paths, October 4, 2008
By 
Stephane Bura (Charleroi, Belgique) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I've been designing games for more than 20 years and I've read a ton of books on the subject.
This one is unique.

Most game design books focus on teaching you how to make a good game, detailing what techniques and processes one must master to understand an audience, to design a product that will satisfy their needs and aspirations, and to work with a team to produce it. "The Art of Game Design" goes beyond that: It teaches you how to become a better designer.

Here's an excerpt from the Deck of Lenses' instructions (it's the deck of cards sold separately that illustrates the 100 design "lenses"):

How to Design a Game
Step 1: Think of an idea for a game (it's easy, it can be anything!)
Step 2: Try it out (no really - try it out - you have to play games to see if they work)
Step 3: Figure out what's wrong with it, and change it so it is better. Then go back to Step 2!

That's what game designers do, over and over again, until they're satisfied with the game or they run out of time or money. However, if there are lots of books out there that explain how to increase the quality of whichever aspect of the game you want to change, it's the first one that so directly and so thoroughly addresses the problem of "figuring out what's wrong" with a game at each iteration.
In the book, Jesse Schell presents one hundred ways of looking at your game in order to figure this out, one hundred lenses. Even if this number seems big, it really isn't, because the book covers every domain touched by design: from the nature of the playing experience itself, to understanding the player, the game mechanisms, interface, story, technology, theme, etc.
For instance, here's the sum-up of a lens taken at random:

Lens #82: The Lens of Inner Contradiction
A good game cannot contain properties that defeat the game's very purpose. To remove those contradictory qualities, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the purpose of my game?
- What is the purpose of each subsystem of my game?
- Is there anything at all in my game that contradicts these purposes?
- If so, how can I change that?

The book doesn't give answers but helps you ask the right questions. I think of this book as the Tao of Game Design, a path toward understanding, each step its own path that can be explored and perfected. The one hundred lenses are one hundred design domains in which a designer can become more proficient. Jesse Schell's knowledge, experience and talent are obvious when he clearly explains how to consider all these questions, why they are important and how they are linked together.
This book makes and helps me think. To me, that's the best things a book about design can do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2.3lbs of game design joy, August 11, 2008
By 
ProducerDev (Pittsburgh, PA USA) - See all my reviews
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses Is an awesome addition to the library of anyone, not just in the game industry, but in the themed entertainment industry as a whole. Chapters are clearly laid out, full of useful and most importantly practical information. Jesse's many years in the industry are evident as most sections of the book reference examples from his own experience. The tone of the book is easy going and open-minded, Jesse never "preaches" game design theory but rather explores it with you, the reader, and allows you to reach your own conclusions.

Perhaps the best part of this book is the lenses (which are detailed in the book and can be purchased separately in a handy "deck of cards" format). Particularly after you've read the book, these cards become a wonderful distilled version of the book's main design lenses. These lenses allow you to view your design in 100 different ways, many of which I promise you've never would have thought of. This is a very valuable tool kit for any designer.

Noobs and veterans' alike will find plenty to discover with in his book. When I have some free time I often find myself cracking the spine and simply picking a chapter at random, I always learn something new when I do.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'Art' of Game Design, August 26, 2008
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Art of Game Design is a book which provides an easy read, it has a simplistic elegance to it, yet the depth of the book is quite deep which will keep you thinking for hours upon end. For me one of the most impressive things about the book is that it pretty much covers everything that a game designer should be aware of and how their decisions will effect the real world (it even talks about the moral obligations which I have never seen covered in a book about game design!). If you really want to learn the depth of being a game designer this book is a must read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in life, August 27, 2008
The Art of Game Design is simple in its language yet intriguing in its concepts. Jesse's well written book is equivalent to a four year undergrad degree in the same subject. The bulkiness of the book might seem overwhelming, but once you start reading, you delve right into it without you even knowing it.

The book draws inspiration from a myriad of topics and fields and definitely provides life lessons on a deeper level. The philosophy and its understanding helps in knowing yourself better, first as a person and then as a designer.

The Art of Game Design will inculcate a positive design perspective to the way you observe everyday things and events. Even if you are not a designer, it certainly is an excellent addition to collectibles that broaden your horizon. A must-buy for those aspiring to be a designer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars insights for any creator, January 14, 2009
This is such a fantastic book, packed with wisdom, that I expect I'll be re-reading a few times in order to absorb everything. What I especially appreciated is how the book discusses the creative process in a high level way. While obviously all the discussions are slanted toward game design, much of the wisdom is applicable to any sort of creative endeavor, not just game design. There are wonderful insights into how to motivate yourself, how to evolve your own ideas, and how to collaborate with others.

One warning is in order though: for the most part this book is fairly abstract. That is, the material in the book tends toward high-level broad concepts, as opposed to tutorials on how to use any specific game development tool. Personally I prefer that and find it much more illuminating (game design is an art not engineering,) but to anyone looking for concrete lessons on how to implement any specific technology, well this book isn't that.

To put it another way: this book is about what game design really is, not what most beginners tend to fixate on.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful book, October 19, 2012
I've been a game lover since I can remember Jarts, the Atari 2600, even my MARX ELECTRO SHOT SHOOTING GALLERY ARCADE GAME (VINTAGE 1969)! Now as an adult I am in the field of game design producing games for mobile devices. Jesse's book is both extremely informative and equally inspirational. His understanding of process is unmatched. I find myself working on a game concept and turning to his book for "advice" on how to determine whether or not specific elements/features are working towards a positive end result, and if not how to question myself in order solve these problems in an efficient manner.

Whether you're a lone-wolf designer or part of a team this book can definitely benefit anyone who reads it. Thank you Mr. Schell for a wonderful book!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another lens for reviewing this book, April 15, 2012
By 
Michael Katz (Seattle, WA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I'd like to add to the long list of overwhelmingly positive reviews of this book with a slightly different perspective, a lens called the "Lens of The Annoying Book":

Is your book annoying?

* Does it waste valuable paper and time covering technical details of tools and languages that could easily be looked up on the web, that many readers will already be familiar with, and that will soon be outdated anyway?
* Does it define terms in absolute or sloppy ways that make you think "Actually I don't think that's true in many cases?"
* Does it talk about a lot of important and closely related ideas such as "fun", "play", "toy", and "game" in a way that makes you feel more confused about these terms than when you started, or that the author is more confused about them than when you started?
* Does it go on and on about how the game industry is expanding and how this is the perfect time to be a game designer? Does it go into tedious detail explaining the difference between a 2D and a 3D game, explaining what the "Freemium" business model is, and explaining how you might have to pay for server hosting if you are making a multiplayer game? In short, does it spend a lot of time explaining things that as a reader of this type of book you very likely already know or could easily look up?
* Does it make you feel like the book is more for people who one day thought, "Huh, I've heard of computer games, I wonder what all the buzz is about?"
* Does it have a random collection of interviews with industry giants that have no particular coherence and can only leave you with the feeling that, yeah, I guess everyone does it their own way and some people are just game geniuses, and I'll probably never be one.
* Do you read it for a while and then you step back and think, "You know, this guy is talking a lot about a certain type of game, but these points don't have much relevance to the game I'm working on, or to the specific questions I'm struggling with"?
* Does it say a bunch of useless truisms, like that the best-selling games are the ones that are "addictive"?
* Is there no overall flow to the book? Do you feel like it could have been much shorter and said the same things? Do you feel it could have been organized better? Do you feel it could have used another round of editing before they pressed the Print button?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, your book may be annoying. Consider rewriting it to make it less annoying.

I am pleased to say that, miraculously, this book is NOT annoying on any of the above counts, or in hundreds of other ways that it could easily have been annoying.

In fact, even for someone who thinks they've done a lot of clear-headed thinking about games, this book makes you feel like you're just waking up to the fact that game design is pretty much the ultimate challenge and reward for a certain type of creative mind, that games and play are fundamental, critical parts of what it means to be human, and (best of all) that basically anybody who has the sincere interest, and who can learn to listen well, can reasonably hope to make games that people love.

I mean, within the first few pages the book calls out that the single most important skill a designer can have is the ability to really listen. How great is that?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a guide, a reference, a source of inspiration, August 21, 2008
By 
Steffen P. Walz (Zurich, Switzerland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
good things come to those who wait - and i have been waiting for this book for years. jesse schell has managed to compose not only a game design guide through an idealized design process, but also a handy catalogue of "lenses" that will help designers to inquire whether their game is enjoyable, or not, and how to improve the design. most importantly, 'the art of game design' provides intellectual as well as practical inspiration throughout - what more can you ask from a book in this field?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 211 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.