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The Art of Game Design [May. 15th, 2016|09:26 pm]
De Horror Vacui
The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Jesse Schell:

In a way, this is a big book of lists. There are 100 "Lenses" with anywhere from one to eight questions to ask yourself about a product grouped into 31 chapters of different topics. In another way, the lenses and the lists are unimportant. Schell's discussion and thinking about video games is what's really interesting in this. These discussions end in very short morals, being the lenses. Owning a video game company and having run Disney's Imagineering department make up for his teaching game design at CMU's Entertainment Technology Center...or however that works.

The chapters are broken down into five general topics: topics that apply to the designer, topics that apply to the game making process, topics that apply to the game mechanics, topics that apply to the player, and topics that apply to the overall user experience. The topics are not organized in that order, but Schell provides a cutesilly annoying mind map that shows you where in the process that topic goes. It's updated chapter-by-chapter, and is by far the best use of a mind map that I've ever seen, allowing Schell to introduce topics in a reasonable order while keeping the reader informed about the structural relationships.

I have to figure out how to use it to teach physics, where the textbooks are presented in a sequence based on the structural logic of the disciple -- just to confuse the students (logical presentations are good for people who already understand the basics, unwarranted generalizations are good for teaching people the basics).

There are a couple of generally annoyances I have with Schell. Rather like an education theorist, there doesn't seem to be a horrid model of the human mind with a totally uninformative chart that he doesn't subscribe to. Hierarchy of Needs? Check. Bloom's Taxonomy? Check. And many others. They seem to be accepted uncritically (again, just as they are in education theory). Secondly, one of my notes says, "Every time Schell convinces you that he knows what he's talking about, he makes a huge error in interpretation in something you do, undercutting his whole point."

If you don't understand the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, then don't toss it in there.

And his stance on games in education? As pollyannish as anyone's I'll jabber away at that in a podcast soon.

All-in-all, I think this is a worthwhile read. It doesn't look like it has much to offer Logic Lights, but it does look like it can help more advanced games.*

Other Books, 2016:

38. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Jesse Schell
37. The Maker of Universes, Philip Jose Farmer
36. Javascript Web Applications, Alex MAcCaw
35. The Stricken Field, Dave Duncan
34. JavaScript: The Good Parts: Douglas Crockford
33. A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster
32. An Introduction to Hilbert Space and Quantum Logic, David W. Cohen
31. Magic in the Middle Ages, Richard Kieckhefer
30. The Silver Warriors, Michael Moorcock.
29. Engines of Creation, K. Eric Drexler
28. Prince of Chaos, Roger Zelazny
27. Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
26. Sparkling Cyanide, Agatha Christie
25. Knight of Shadows, Roger Zelazny
24. Death on the Nile, Agatha Christie
23. Feynman Lectures on Computation, Richard Feynman
22. Effective Computation in Physics, Anthony Scopatz and Kathryn D. Huff
21. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big, Scott Adams
20. Sign of Chaos, Roger Zelazny
19. Murder Must Advertise, Dorothy Sayers
18. The Mythical Man-Month, Fredrick Brooks
17. Blood of Amber, Roger Zelazny
16. Understanding Computation, Tom Stuart
15. Social Class in the 21st Century, Mike Savage
14. Design for Great-Day, Alan Dean Foster and Eric Frank Russell
13. QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Richart Feynman
12. SciPy and NumPy, Eli Bressert
11. Elementary Quantum Mechanics in One Dimension, Robert Gilmore
10. The Trumps of Doom, Roger Zelazny
9. Your Code as a Crime Scene, Adam Tornhill
8. Upland Outlaws, Dave Duncan
7. Identity Economics, George Akerlof and Rachel Kranton
6. The Courts of Chaos, Roger Zelazny
5. Nudge, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein
4. The Cutting Edge, Dave Duncan
3. The Nature of Software Development, Ron Jeffers
2. The Death of Chaos, L.E. Modesitt, Jr.
1. Kivy -- Interactive Applications and Games in Python, Roberto Ulloa

* In part that's because I've already done a lot of these things by mistake, like modifying the game based on how people try to play it rather than trying to force people to play it the way I would want to.**

** Also his take on fairness gives a clue as to what is meant by fairness. It's based on player response to losing points or powers -- they hate it and will stop playing your game because of it (this also is one reason games don't mix with education -- students think of not getting 100s as "losing points"). After talking about it, he goes on to say, "A fair way to take away a player's powers is..."

Which tells you a lot about "fair."