Book review: Game Design: Theory and Practice

1556229127The book details the stages of designing a computer or video game, including subjects such as "what players want", writing a design document, and gameplay testing. The book includes interviews with a number of famous game designers, including Sid Meier, Ed Logg, Steve Meretzky, Chris Crawford, Jordan Mechner, Will Wright, and Doug Church. There are also chapters that are analysis of successful games, including Centipede, Tetris, Loom, Myth: The Fallen Lords, The Sims, and Grand Theft Auto III. The appendixes of the book include the design documents for the game The Suffering and an unpublished game called Atomic Sam. 

As a one of the best book in this genre, Each of the chapters of this book fall into one of three categories: an interview with a prominent game designer, an analysis of a successful game, or a discussion of game design principles. Each is valuable for different reasons, so I'd like to review each of them separately.

The interviews are interesting, and go into much greater depth than most interviews you see. As a result, you're able to get a good idea of how each designer approaches the game design process, which can be useful in analyzing your own methods.

The chapters analyzing games focused on a single game, but also looked at similar games in the genre. If you're aspiring game designers, you'll benefit from these chapters. Partially because you will see what these games did well, but more so because they will encourage you to analyze the design aspects of the games you're playing to see what they do right, what they do wrong, and how you can apply that to your own designs.

About half of the chapters of the book cover various aspects of game design, presenting the author's own theories about what's important, what isn't, and the things you should be thinking about. It's hard to review the value of this; some of it you'll agree with, and some of it you may not. Depending on your degree of experience, some of it may be obvious, some of it may be new, and some of it may help you focus on areas you've been neglecting.

Overall, if you're interested in becoming a well-rounded and successful game designer, there's a lot in here that will be of value to you.

Richard-Rouse-IIIAbout the Author: Richard Rouse III is design director at Surreal Software, a Midway Home Entertainment studio. Most recently, he was project lead, lead designer, and writer on the action-horror game The Suffering. His credits also include Drakan: The Ancients’ Gates, Centipede 3D, Damage Incorporated, and Odyssey: The Legend of Nemesis. Rouse has written about game design for publications including Game Developer, SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics, Develop, Gamasutra,, and Inside Mac Games, and has spoken on game development numerous times at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.