Video games are straight-up awesome. They allow you to experience new and immersive worlds, they give you opportunities to play as unique characters, and they’re a good outlet for negative energies.
Because of that, I’ve wanted to become a game developer off and on for about 7 years (keep in mind that I’m a teenager, so 7 years is almost half of my life).
I finally feel as if I have the courage and motivation to become a game developer, thanks to the book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses.
The Art of Game Design at a Glance
The Table of Contents
When looking at the table of contents, I noticed that this book was very thorough. Jesse Schell, the author of The Art of Game Design covers topics such as:
and many more…
What’s great about this book is that, even though it is very thorough, it isn’t at all overwhelming and all of the topics are laid out in a way that makes them easy to understand. Mr. Schell feeds you the information in pieces, which makes the digestion of the information that much simpler.
The Table of Lenses
After the table of contents, there’s a table of lenses, since it is a book of lenses. This makes it easy to find the section a specific lens is mentioned in, in case you need to review that topic in further detail.
Paired with the physical cards, learning about and utilizing the lenses of game design becomes a fun and enjoyable task.
After the table of contents and the table of lenses, there’s a wonderful introduction for the book.
Mr. Schell starts off by introducing himself, and explains the jobs he’s had in the past, such as professional juggler, magician’s apprentice, and software engineer (among other diverse things).
He brings this up since he draws on knowledge from all aspects of his life, including the things that aren’t obviously related to game design. This really caught my attention, as I find that the most important thing to me is learning from all experiences, both the ones that I’ve had and the ones that others have had.
Life is, in essence, just a series of experiences, and when we soak up as much information, knowledge, and wisdom as we can from those experiences, we will learn the most about life while we’re still living it.
Games are also experiences, and so to create meaningful and lasting experiences in games, I believe we should draw inspiration and knowledge from all of the experiences we possibly can.
The Art of Game Design in a Deeper Look
Once you’re past the table of contents, table of lenses, and the introduction, Mr. Schell begins to let you look deeper into what game design is all about.
Lots of Examples
In the book, you’ll find lots of examples.
This is great because humans often learn best by example, and the abundance and variety of the examples in this book are phenomenal for learning from.
Mr. Schell gives examples:
From his own life
From video games both new and old
From other forms of media
Open up the book at any random page, and you will probably find an example that reinforces the material being taught.
These examples come in many forms, including:
Text that explains the points in writing
Diagrams that show the reader the information
Pictures that provide concrete visualizations
Easy to Read
Along with all of the examples, the book itself is easy to read, and won’t have you stumbling around strange sentences. Instead you can just peruse around pretty paragraphs and absorb the information at your own pace.
Whenever you need to reference a concept that was previously explained, the table of contents, table of lenses, and the index make it easy to find the information you need.
The map of game design is also a handy tool, as it is shown at the beginning of each chapter, with the chapter’s topic added to the map. This allows you to get a greater understanding of this map over time, without feeling overwhelmed from the very beginning.
The map is also a good way to see and review the information in a visual way, which can be helpful if you absorb more from visual learning.
Applicable to Areas Outside of Game Design
My favorite thing about this book is that a lot of the information is applicable to subjects outside of game design, such as art and writing.
I really love creative writing, and I have written 5 novels (as well as a few incomplete novels) over the past 4 years. I’ve read a lot about writing, and I’ve done a lot of writing, but The Art of Game Design has helped me solve some of the issues with the novel that I’m currently working on, and it also gave me new motivation for my work.
Even if you aren’t interested in game design, this book is beneficial if you’re interested in some kind of creative craft, as it will help you approach your medium in a new light.
The Art of Game Design A Deck of Lenses
Last but not least, I want to talk about the cards.
The deck of cards is comprised of physical cards that have the lenses detailed on them, which makes them a handy reference tool while working.
With the deck comes a little booklet that details how to use the cards, how to design a game, and what the symbols on the cards mean, in fun and brief ways.
The cards themselves have nice illustrations, explains the lenses that are on them, and also have questions that you can ask yourself to gain a greater understanding of your game.
What’s nice about the cards is how easy they are to use. They’re large enough that you can easily read the writing and see the illustrations, but small enough that they don’t take up a lot of workspace. They’re also inside a small box, which makes them easily portable from one work space to another.
Overall I think that The Art of Game Design is a good book to read, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in video games, game design, art, and writing.
The cards are also worthwhile, and add another layer to the book.