It takes a lot of time to find good learning resources online. For this christmas, I decided to share my 7 most valuable game design resources with you. If you want to become a game designer, the 2 books, 4 websites and the youtube show listed down below will cover most, if not all of your basics. I layed them down from the one I refer to the most to the one I use the least.
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1- The art of game design – Book by Jesse Schell
- Smart, comprehensive and precise
- The game design bible
The art of game design is the number 1 textbook you should devour as a game designer. It not only describes the whole process of designing a game, but it also emphasizes dozens and dozens of questions to ask yourself when designing your game. Jesse Schell chose to offer a method that revolves around lenses: by looking at the game creation process from multiple points of view, the author unveils many subtleties of game design. On top of that, this resource is not specific to video games. Instead, it covers any type of game (this is my game design bible!).
2- Pixel Prospector
- A lot of content
- Organized in practical lists
Pixel Prospector is certainly one of the most well-known resources for independent game designers. This website alone lists hundreds of external links to game design related articles, communities, and websites. Not only that, but all of the links are organized in categories and sub categories! It even offers a pretty exhaustive and free Marketing Guide for Game Developers!
This is one of the rare sites where you’ll easily find solid figures about the gaming industry and the indie game development market. If you need to make a market study or a business plan, pixel prospector is one of the first place to go to (as far as indie games are concerned).
3- GDC Vault’s free section
- Structured talks from experienced professionals
- Unique insights about the game industry
The GDC Vault is a repository of game design, technical and business related talks from the Game Developer Conference (GDC). The access to the entire library is reserved to those who bought an accreditation for the exhibition. However, there is a free section on the website which gives access to a large selection of talks from previous GDC events. There, you can find inspiring content about both the global gaming industry, as well as post-mortems from indies in particular. A few videos get added to the free section after each GDC event, so you’ll find new talks there on a quarterly basis!
4- Hobby Game Dev
- Contains a large pool of articles
- Very accessible
HobbyGameDev (by Chris DeLeon) has a lot to offer. Hobby Game Dev is mainly a repository of a huge list of articles and bills about game development and design. As it names suggest, it is targeted at everyone: professionals, students and hobbyists alike.
Chris’s articles generally tackle a clear, specific topic in an efficient manner. The website also has a community page where you can connect with other aspiring game designers and developers.
5- Extra Credits
- Offers precise insights in a condensed format
- Covers a specific topic each time
Extra credits (youtube channel) is a youtube channel about games and game design. In short videos, the authors break down each time a fundamental concept of applied game design. The videos analyze common mechanics in games, characters, and aesthetics in well-structured videos. Not only that, but the channel also offers game recommendations (James recommends) and cool History lessons (as with the Japanese Edo era).
6- The game accessibility guidelines
- Concrete game design guidelines
- Well organized
The game accessibility guidelines is a focused goldmine. This website contains a list of detailed guidelines to increase the reach of your game. It is all about making your game accessible to the largest amount of gamers. According to the about page, 15% of the population are disabled people. In casual gaming, the number would rise up to 20% of players. Those persons’ disability could be color blindness, a form of paralysis, or anything else you could think of. The guide also stresses out the fact that there is no typical gamer, no single type of user to target. This is definitely a key resource for game designers to study from!
7- Reality is Broken – Book by Jane McGonigal
- An intriguing essay
- A unique (and optimistic) take about the positive effects of games
“Why games make us better and how they can change the world”. "Reality Is Broken" is special. It is not a game design manual, nor a bible of some sort: it is an essay about the strengths and positive effects of games. Jane McGonigal analyses games through the lens of positive psychology, a branch of psychology that studies ways to achieve a satisfactory life.
Why is this book part of the list? It offers a large amount of insights as far as why and how people consume games. To me, it provides the reader with solid pointers about some of the reasons why we need games, and about our global audience as game designers.
A little warning: this book doesn’t cover the dangers or negative effects the massive modern consumption of games can have on our society. It focuses on the strengths of collaborative games.
Getting in touch!
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I am Nathan, a freelance html5 game designer and 2d game artist. I'm also the author of GDquest.com, a website that offers construct2 and game design tutorials. I hope to bring a modest stone to the world of game design, and help you as best as I can along the way. I am deeply interested in using the game design language to build games that inspire people and offer more than sole entertainment.