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The Game Inventor's Guidebook: How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-Playing Games, & Everything in Between! Paperback – November 1, 2008

4.3 out of 5 stars 63 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Brian Tinsman has more than nine years of professional analog and video game design experience with over 30 published titles and total sales of over $100 million. He has won a Mensa Select award and been nominated for multiple Origins Awards. Armed with his BA from UC Berkeley and MBA from University of Seattle, he worked for Hasbro for many years before taking the position of Game Design Manager at Wizards of the Coast, the world's largest tabletop hobby game company. He is the author of several gaming books including a previous edition of The Game Inventor's Guidebook and Magic: the Gathering Complete Encyclopedia. He has been a keynote speaker and panelist at numerous game industry conventions.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 263 pages
  • Publisher: Morgan James Publishing; F First Edition edition (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600374476
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600374470
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
According to its subtitle, The Game Inventor's Guidebook covers: "How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-player Games, and Everything in Between!" In other words, the book covers the modern, *non*-computer game industry.
The book opens with short descriptions of some of the success stories of the past couple decades:
* Trivial Pursuit
* Magic: the Gathering
* Dungeons & Dragons
* The Pokemon Trading Card Game
If you're not familiar with the stories behind these games, they make very interesting reading, especially for indies. With the exception of the Pokemon TCG, these are stories of dedicated individuals pursuing a dream and not giving up when things get tough.
After that, the book describes how the game publishing industry works, and provides summaries of the companies and games that a would-be "game inventor" should be aware of.
More useful than the birds-eye view of how the industry works are the frequent interviews with publishers and game designers. These are probably the best part of the book. Such modern "name" game designers like Reiner Knizia (Lord of the Rings, Tigris & Euphrates & many, many more), Brian Hersch (Outburst, Taboo), Mike Fitzgerald (Mystery Rummy, Wyvern), and more, discuss how they got started and how they approach game design. Equally informative were the interviews with publishers such as Mike Gray of Hasbro, Peggy Brown of Patch, Mike Osterhaus of Out of the Box, and others.
Because of the costs associated with games of this nature, the book several times cautions against self-publishing your game ideas, recommending that the would-be game inventor go through a publisher.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I purchased this book I was expecting it to go into a good amount of detail about the design process. In short, the book primarily goes: okay, here's an example of what kind of games sell, here's how this guy sold it, now he's rich, chances are you won't be like him, now understand what makes a game good is that you make it fun, etc. etc.

I feel that the book is less of a guide and more of a showcase. The author does provide plenty of resources though so that if you design a game you can contact people through what he provides but that is really about it. Otherwise the book simply goes through success stories and only touches the surface of game design and when in this stage of the book the advice is simple common sense. Then, after the short amount dedicated to design it goes into legal protection, etc.

Perhaps I simply expected more than I what I was getting into. Again, this book is by no means bad, it is an enjoyable read for a person who is interested in the field but don't expect to learn too much pertaining to designing your game.
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Format: Paperback
My wife and I invented a card game several months ago and, after having shared the game with friends, realized we were onto something. Shortly thereafter, my wife purchased Brian's book to read. It was entertaining and well-written, so much so that I couldn't put it down. It is full of a lot of good advice, but more than anything else, it is inspirational without filling one's head with dreams of outrageous fortune. It's very down-to-earth and realistic.

That being said, my wife and I just got word from a publisher that they'd like to develop and produce our game. I guess I'll have to go back and read Brian's chapter on "What to do if they say 'Yes!'"

Thanks for a great book, Brian!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this book on the recommendation of game designer Lewis Pulsipher. Tinsman, game design manager for new business at Wizards of the Coast, describes the book's target audience as "really just for one person...the lucky person destined to create the next category-defining blockbuster game." In fact, though, his book addresses anyone who seeks to have a game published, one way or another, with valuable advice and insight toward making a game concept into a reality.

Tinsman opens with a series of anecdotes about four of the wildly successful games of our time - Trivial Pursuit, Magic: The Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Pokemon. These stories of blockbuster proportions are exciting to read, inspiring to imagine, and yet a little daunting to the hopeful designer. What are the odds of coming up with the next Monopoly? Is that too crazy to consider?

Perhaps, but Tinsman offers much more than just a review of the peak games of the age. He follows with chapters on the nature of the industry, the considerations that publishers have when they consider a new design, and the motivations behind designing (or as he likes to say, "inventing") games. I found especially interesting his description of the inner workings of a game company and the internal considerations that weigh on whether a game is published.

Tinsman spells out four "markets" for games, and here I could quibble with his taxonomy, but really, his classification works for the purposes of his book, which come down to the different ways to approach design, publication, and marketing.
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