In my previous On My Shelf, I mentioned that I am collaborating with a professor to develop an Introduction to Game Studies course here at the University. We continue to design the course, developing the curriculum and project structure. The book I want to discuss today is our other candidate for a textbook for the course, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses by Jesse Schell. The course we are designing will be a hybrid of tabletop, digital and mobile game design. Where the Rules of Play text focuses on tabletop games with examples of video games, The Art of Game Design focuses on video games with core mechanics and examples of tabletop games.
“One thing I should clarify: While the goal of this book is primarily to teach you how to be a better video game designer, many of the principles we explore will have little to do with video games specifically – you will find they are more broadly applicable than that. The good news is that much of what you read here will work equally well no matter what kind of game you are designing – digital, analog or otherwise.” (From “Hello” Chapter, p. xxxvii)
It is very interesting to read the two books, noting where they overlap and where they differ. What they both agree on are the fundamentals of a game are core no matter if a game is “digital, analog or otherwise.” This book views games through various perspectives, called Lenses by the author. There are 113 Lenses including universal game perspectives such as Emotion, Fun, Problem Solving, the Player, Goals, Chance, Beauty, Community, Rewards, and Playtesting. Each book has its own perspective, but both focus on the core elements of game design.
“Game design is the act of deciding what a game should be.” (From “Hello” Chapter, p. xxxviii)
While my preference is toward Rules of Play because of my strong tabletop background, I am enjoying the discussion with the professor whose strength is computer graphics and thus his leaning toward this text. The discussion as we review these two books, from their unique perspectives, has really helped us focus on the core components of the course.
Have you taken any courses in Game Studies or Game Design? I would love to see links to other courses you have found interesting, what text they use, and what about the class you found most useful.