ES­SEN­TIALS

Th­ese are the vol­umes you should have read al­ready

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01 Chris Craw­ford On Game De­sign

Chris Craw­ford

Even the en­dorse­ment on the back cover ad­mits “I don’t al­ways agree with Chris”. Im­pas­sioned and con­tro­ver­sial – but al­ways il­lu­mi­nat­ing.

02 Re­al­ity Is Bro­ken

Jane McGoni­gal

A thump­ingly ar­gued man­i­festo for game me­chan­ics as a force for good. De­spite gam­i­fi­ca­tion’s de­cline, this still has rel­e­vance.

03 Masters Of Doom

David Kush­ner

An en­gross­ingly dra­matic per­son­al­ity-led ac­count of the bril­liance and bed­lam at the of­fices of id and Ion Storm up to 2001.

04 Trig­ger Happy

Steven Poole

Edge colum­nist Poole de­liv­ered the first truly ac­ces­si­ble, in­tel­li­gently writ­ten and cel­e­bra­tory ac­count of the rea­sons we play.

05 Game Over

David Sh­eff

Read any book about Nin­tendo, and you can bet it cribs heav­ily from this un­ri­valled dig into the pre-16bit years.

06 De­sign­ing Vir­tual Worlds

Richard Bar­tle

MMOGs from the per­spec­tive of the genre’s dad: Bar­tle co-cre­ated

MUD. Ad­mirably weighty, prac­ti­cal and in­spi­ra­tional.

07 A The­ory Of Fun For Game De­sign

Raph Koster

A com­pact and play­ful plea to de­vel­op­ers craft­ing player-matched chal­lenges, told through text and child­like cartoons.

08 The Art Of Game De­sign: A Book Of Lenses

Jesse Schell

Stu­dents of game de­sign shouldn’t miss this one-el­e­ment-at-a-time ap­proach to bring­ing the best out of a game.

09 Beyond Bar­bie And Mor­tal Kom­bat

Yas­min B Kafai and oth­ers

Up­date on a sem­i­nal 2000 es­say col­lec­tion. Ed­i­fy­ing on what’s changed in gaming’s gen­der at­ti­tudes since – and what hasn’t.

10 Cy­ber­text: Per­spec­tives On Er­godic Lit­er­a­ture

Espen J Aarseth

Aarseth is a lordly fig­ure from game stud­ies’ first wave. This in­tro­duced “er­godic texts”, sto­ries that de­mand reader ac­tion.

11 Flow

Mi­haly Csik­szent­mi­ha­lyi

The orig­i­nal the­ory of why we get ‘in the zone’ in games. A ver­bose but ground­break­ing work. (It’s “Cheek-sent-me-high-e”, by the way.)

12 Ham­let On The Holodeck

Janet Mur­ray

Im­por­tant early ex­plo­ration of ‘reader’ vs nar­ra­tive in the dig­i­tal age. Still ref­er­enced all the time, ev­ery­where.

13 Homo Lu­dens

Jo­han Huizinga

A 1938 ex­plo­ration of how play per­me­ates cul­ture. Huizinga’s “magic cir­cle” – the place for play – is big in game stud­ies.

14 Man, Play And Games

Roger Cail­lois

This 1961 mas­ter­work from a French so­ci­ol­o­gist builds on Huizinga. The field of game stud­ies has nur­tured its model of four game types.

15 The Medium Of The Video Game

Mark JP Wolf

This in­flu­en­tial col­lec­tion prods at the heart of games: space, time, nar­ra­tive and genre.

16 The Ul­ti­mate His­tory Video Games

Steven L Kent

US-cen­tric and Atari-heavy, but glim­mer­ing with anec­do­tal jew­els from ev­ery­one who’s ever been any­one in gaming, and weigh­ing in at a sat­is­fy­ing 608 pages.

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