Learning Resources

People occasionally ask me to recommend learning resources for game design or related topics. For my own reference and for yours, here are a bunch of my recommendations, organized by topic!

Books

TITLENOTESTOPIC
A Theory of Fun, by Raph KosterA succinct and enjoyable intro to the concept of game design. Game Design
The Art of Game Design: The Book of Lenses, by Jesse SchellThe best overall game design textbook. Shows many ways of thinking about design.

Warning: In one section the author makes outdated and harmful gender essentialist claims about how to design for different demographics.
Game Design
A Pattern Language for Game Design, by Chris BarneyA workbook with exercises to build your own pattern languages. They’ll greatly improve your understanding of your personal design aesthetic and influences.Game Design
Procedural Generation in Game Design, Edited by Tanya X. Short & Tarn AdamsA varied series of essays each offering different, focused lessons on procedural content generation.Game Design
The Design of Everyday Things, by Don NormanThe definitive book on design. Dense, but important. It breaks “design” down into concrete steps and language.Design
Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloudA deep dive into the concept and function of art mediums. A rich set of lessons on how the medium affects the art.Art Mediums
101 Things I Learned in Architecture School, by Matthew FrederickArchitecture is one of the few other disciplines that grapples with questions about how people experience spaces. This book offers valuable bite-size lessons.Architecture
The Timeless Way of Building, by Christopher AlexanderThis book introduces the universally applicable concept of a pattern language, an invaluable tool for analyzing and understanding design decisions. Architecture
Architecture: Form, Space, and Function, by Francis D. K. ChingThis definitive architecture textbook breaks the discipline down into the most fundamental pieces.Architecture
Ask Iwata, edited by HobonichiBiography-in-his-own-words of Satoru Iwata, president of Nintendo from 2002 until his death in 2015.Game History
The Masters of Doom, by David KushnerBiography of John Romero, John Carmack, and early ID software. Fascinating glimpse into early 90s PC game dev culture. Game History
Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World, by David SheffBook c. 1993 about Nintendo’s history and business. The author had close access to key figures. Time capsule that’ll give you perspective on a very different industry. Game History

Video

TITLENOTESTOPIC
Masahiro Sakurai on Creating GamesA series of succinct, high-quality video lessons on all aspects of game development from Masahiro Sakurai, best known as the director of Kirby and Smash Bros.Game Dev
Game Maker’s ToolkitThe Game Maker’s Toolkit channel consistently puts out excellent 10-15 minute dives into game dev topics. Most are worth watching. Game Dev
GMTK: Boss KeysThe Game Maker’s Toolkit Bosskeys series is a deep-dive into the dungeon design of Zelda and Metroidvania games. They’re absolutely top-notch. Game Design
Extra CreditsExtra Credits is a very long-running series of bitesize, 5-minute videos on a great many game dev topics. Many are outdated or basic, but there’s still plenty of gems in their catalog. Game Dev
GDC YoutubeThe GDC Youtube channel has many, many excellent GDC talks freely available. Game Dev
Breaking Conventions with Breath of the WildGDC 2017 talk by the game director, art director, and engineering director of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Overview of how they approached development. Game Dev
Game Design Patterns for Building FriendshipsGDC 2018 talk by Dan Cook. Deep dive into the science of how friendships form and how that can be used for social game design. Game Design

Web Publications

TITLENOTESTOPIC
Project HorseshoeGame design white paper group. Some excellent deep, deep dives into design topics.Game Design
GameDeveloper.comA long-standing resource with many and frequent game dev blog posts. Quality varies widely. Prev. known as “Gamasutra”.Game Dev