Tom: Hope everyone is enjoying a nice break of some sort this holiday season. As you know though, the work of a game designer is never done! With that in mind, our own BJ Gailey, who has been designing games for many more years than I, has compiled this list of useful game design resources. So, while you’re sitting in front of your lovely fire sipping a spiked hot beverage of your choice, take a look or a listen and keep those creative juices flowing.
BJ: All of this stuff I have used myself, some extensively and some just to glance at, but it’s all stuff I recommend.
The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell: Half inspirational, half practical, this book is an excellent place to start thinking holistically about game design. The book is centered around over 100 different “lenses” that can be applied to your design work; these lenses are also available as a separate deck of cards if you’d prefer to jump right into the practical side of the text.
The Characteristics of Games by Elias, Garfield, and Gutschera: A true textbook of game design and in many ways the opposite of Schell’s book. Very crunchy, very specific, and very, very useful as you dive deeper into the theory of design.
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals by Zimmerman and Tekinbas: Even more dry and textbook-y than The Characteristics of Games, but useful too – it has some great design exercises and challenges that I found worth the price of admission, if only just (it costs as much as textbook, so caveat emptor).
Ludology: Maybe the only podcast about game design itself that I find halfway worth listening to (there are a lot of enjoyable podcasts about board games, but very few enjoyable ones about board game design specifically and solely). The changing focus helps- each episode looks at a single design concept, like opportunity cost or asymmetry, and does a fairly deep dive into it. Other episodes are interviews with designers, which can be hit or miss.
Board Game Design Lab: A podcast that I wish I found more entertaining. It has it’s fans, though, and their website is actually a really nice collection of other design resources.
99% Invisible: Not at ALL about game design, this podcast is about how design influences the world around us and yet remains primarily invisible. Incredibly intelligent, I like this one because it gets me thinking about how visible my “fingerprints” should be as a designer.
TOM INTERJECTION: 99% Invisible is maybe the best podcast ever made and it will change your life.
BoardGameGeek: BGG is a fantastic resources for gamers in general, but the community can be iffy at times. However, their design community is pretty stellar and a couple of threads in that community are sort of amazing. First, “The Designer’s Resources List” is a clearinghouse of links related to game design, everything from freelance artists to probability to publishers. Second, “A Brief Crash Course on Game Design” will look very familiar to CUDO Plays members- it’s essentially a timeline for the development of a game. It’s a useful reminder though, and it does cover a few topics that CUDO Plays does not.
And of course, there is Jamey Stegmaier’s Kickstarter Lessons series. It’s fairly specific in its focus on crowdfunding, but if you’re gonna end up there (or think you might want to) it’s an absolute treasure trove from the guy who pretty much wrote the book on board game design Kickstarters.
Anyway, there’s lots more but I think this stuff is potentially the most useful to the most people. Happy designing everyone!