Books: Inside Game Design

Posted by: Matt Vella on January 28

Editor’s Rating:stars_9.gif
The Good: Useful and informative for insiders and casual readers alike.
The Bad: Almost none; could use a little more analysis here and there.
The Bottom Line: A brilliant romp through some of the industry’s most innovative shops.

insidegamedesignNominally, Iain Simmons’ Inside Game Design is just a book of interviews, albeit with some of the most innovative developers in the games industry from Little Big Planet-maker Media Molecule to Harmonix, of Guitar Hero fame. But, its well-considered frame of reference and flexible question-and-answer format makes it more than that. The book is both a useful compendium of design strategies and processes for industry insiders as well as an enjoyable, casual read for enthusiasts. What’s more, Inside Game Design benefits from a healthy helping of gorgeous photographs, including prototypes, mockups, conceptual drawings, and of course screen shots. Don’t miss the preliminary sketches behind Katamari Damacy and Darwinia or the low-profile but (in their own simple way) beautiful level prototypes behind Valve’s Portal.

Simmons sets up an interesting frame for the project — that despite being one of the fastest growing, most multifaceted, sometimes celebrated, and frequently dismissed forms of media, videogames remain poorly understood. With that as a backdrop, the interviews are coherent explanation of what motivates game makers to innovate. In any case, it’s definitely worth checking out.

It was published by Chronicle Books in November, 2007. (I know, I’m a bit behind.)

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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