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The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses [Paperback]

by Jesse Schell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 4, 2008 0123694965 978-0123694966 1
Anyone can master the fundamentals of game design - no technological expertise is necessary. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses shows that the same basic principles of psychology that work for board games, card games and athletic games also are the keys to making top-quality videogames. Good game design happens when you view your game from many different perspectives, or lenses. While touring through the unusual territory that is game design, this book gives the reader one hundred of these lenses - one hundred sets of insightful questions to ask yourself that will help make your game better. These lenses are gathered from fields as diverse as psychology, architecture, music, visual design, film, software engineering, theme park design, mathematics, writing, puzzle design, and anthropology. Anyone who reads this book will be inspired to become a better game designer - and will understand how to do it.

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The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses + The Art of Game Design: A Deck of Lenses + Level Up!: The Guide to Great Video Game Design
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"If you're nineteen and have no idea why you adore videogames - you're just enchanted by them, you can't help yourself - dude, is this ever the book for you. You are the core demographic for this particular textual experience. Put down the hand-controller, read the book right now. I can promise you that you will grow in moral and intellectual stature.. Instead of remaining a twitchy, closeted, joystick geek, like you are now, you will emerge from this patient master-class as a surprisingly broadminded adult who quotes Herman Hesse and appreciates improvisational theater and Impressionist painting. You will no longer kill off parties with your Warcraft fixation. Instead, other people your age will find themselves mysteriously drawn to you - to your air of quiet sympathy, your contemplative depth. Wise beyond your years, you will look beyond the surface details of shrieking monsters and into the deeper roots of human experience.. Schell's creative approach is full of autarchic frontier self-reliance. Out there on Tomorrowland's Gameification Frontier, a theorist intellectual has to slaughter his own hogs and parse Aristotle's Poetics on the back of a shovel. But boy, it sure is roomy over there. It's a large, free, democratic book. It's Emersonian in its cheery disorganization. The book's like a barbaric yawp from the top of a Nintendo console.. I'd read it now, before things get out of hand." - Bruce Sterling on Wired.com's "Beyond the Beyond" blog

"As indicated by its title, Jesse Schell's The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses uses many different perspectives (the titular lenses) which each prompt their own important questions, ranging from "What problems does my game ask the players to solve?" to "What does beauty mean within the context of my game?" These distinct points are interwoven throughout a step-by-step analysis of the design process that begins with the designer and his or her basic idea, and builds successfully from there. As with Rules of Play, the wealth of information presented by The Art of Game Design may seem daunting at first, but Schell's agreeable voice eases the reader into a series of invaluable angles we can (and should) use to evaluate what we play."--1up.com

About the Author

Jesse Schell is professor of entertainment technology for Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), a joint master's program between Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts and School of Computer Science, where he teaches game design and leads several research projects. Formerly he was creative director of the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio. Schell worked as a designer, programmer, and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest. Schell received his undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon. He is also CEO of Schell Games, LLC, an independent game studio in Pittsburgh, and chairman of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). In 2004 he was named as one of the World's 100 Top Young Innovators by MIT's Technology Review.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 520 pages
  • Publisher: CRC Press; 1 edition (August 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0123694965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0123694966
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 3.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,230 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jesse Schell is professor of entertainment technology for Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), a joint master's program between Carnegie Mellon's College of Fine Arts and School of Computer Science, where he teaches game design and leads several research projects. Formerly he was creative director of the Walt Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio. Schell worked as a designer, programmer, and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest. Schell received his undergraduate degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree in information networking from Carnegie Mellon. He is also CEO of Schell Games, LLC, an independent game studio in Pittsburgh, and chairman of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA). In 2004 he was named as one of the World's 100 Top Young Innovators by MIT's Technology Review.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book of the Year January 3, 2009
Format:Paperback
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).
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book of Paths October 4, 2008
Format:Paperback
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.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great book; Kindle edition has formatting problems November 27, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2.3lbs of game design joy August 11, 2008
Format:Paperback
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Great !
I introduced my 13 year old grandson to this book so that he can understand what goes into publishing games he plays. Read more
Published 26 days ago by L. Lallouz
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of -practical- and inspiring advice for game designers
This is the best game design book I've found so far that has immediate practical application to the games I am developing (programming & designing). Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. Winn
3.0 out of 5 stars a bag of advise
I was looking for book about game design. Only about 30% 40% of this book is about game design.There are chapters for everything that is involved in video game business even how to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Evgeni Ivanov Petrov
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book.
Had this as a required textbook. Great insight, would definitely recommend to any aspiring game designer or anyone genuinely interested in video games.
Published 1 month ago by Elise C.
5.0 out of 5 stars A book I keep coming back to
I don't buy many books because reading them once is enough, but I'm glad I chose to actually purchase this one because it's so chock-a-block full of wisdom that is hard to get it... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Daud Alzayer
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource
Valuable resource for introduction into game design. The book is stylistically written in an enjoyable and education way. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ian Sartwell
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book on Game Design
This is a great, straight-forward book on iterative game design created by someone active in the field. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Brian Grey
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading not just for games
I don't recommend this particular edition, though. Layout is atrocious and there's even some uncorrected typos. Amazon or the publisher clearly didn't do too good of a job.
Published 4 months ago by divide
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall Good, Makes You Think, but Lenses Seem Forced
I am glad I read this book. It made me think about things about designing a game that I probably thought about in passing but was now made to think about them for real. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Joniz
5.0 out of 5 stars The go-to guide
Book covers exactly what I was looking for. Great detail, well written, and covers every important subject to a game designer.
Published 5 months ago by Nathan Smela
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