4 Must-Have Books for Learning Game Designers

4 Must-Have Books for Game Design

Looking for a more updated list? Here’s our most recent article on top learning game design books.

This post focuses on the “old school” information resource: books. The Knowledge Guru team is always reading up on games and gamification. So we thought we’d curate some of the best books for anyone interested in learning game design.

So without further ado, below are 4 must-have books for learning game designers:

Play to Learn: Everything You Need to Know About Designing Effective Learning Games

As a trainer interested in game design, you know that games are more effective than lectures. You’ve seen firsthand how immersive games hold learners’ interest, helping them explore new skills and experience different points of view. But how do you become the Milton Bradley of learning games? Play to Learn is here to help.

This book bridges the gap between instructional design and game design; it’s written to grow your game literacy and strengthen crucial game design skills. Bottom-Line Performance president Sharon Boller and Dr. Karl Kapp share real examples of in-person and online games, and offer an online game for you to try as you read. They walk you through evaluating entertainment and learning games, so you can apply the best to your own designs. You can order Play to Learn here.

Challenges for Game Designers: Non-Digital Exercises for Video Game Designers

“Finally! A book that talks about HOW to become a good game designer instead of merely addressing WHAT game design is.” — Amazon Reviewer

That’s only one of a myriad of reasons this book is a must-have for current or aspiring game designers. Beyond being one of the only books to address how to become a good game designer, Challenges for Game Designers stands out by offering hands-on challenges. None of the challenges in the book require any programming or a computer. However, many of the topics in the book feature challenges that can be made into fully functioning games. So if you’re a professional game designer, aspiring designer, or instructor who teaches game design courses, then you should definitely get this book. You can order a copy here.

Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games

If you liked the idea of challenges from the previous book, then you’ll love Game Design Workshop by Tracy Fullerton. This book puts you to work in prototyping, playtesting and redesigning your own games. It includes exercises that teach essential design skills. The description even states: “Workshop exercises require no background in programming or artwork, releasing you from the intricacies of electronic game production, so you can develop a working understanding of the essentials of game design.” It’s the perfect book for taking a deep dive into game design and truly learning how to be a great game designer. You can pick up a copy of Game Design Workshop here.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

Another great read from the co-author of the first book on our list, Dr. Karl Kapp. In this book, Kapp introduces, defines, and describes the concept of gamification and then dissects several examples of games to determine the elements that provide the most positive results for the players. He explains why these elements are critical to the success of learning. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction is based on solid research and the author includes peer-reviewed results from dozens of studies that offer insights into why game-based thinking and mechanics makes for vigorous learning tools.

Kapp gets practical in this book, too. He discusses how to create a successful game design document and includes a model for managing the entire game and gamification design process. This is definitely a book you want on your bookshelf if you have any interest in learning games or gamification. You can get a copy here.