10 Best Video Game Design Books

As a gaming aficionado, video game design is probably your dream job. Apart from that, this area provides a variety of job prospects, interesting and rewarding work settings, a good starting salary, and the opportunity to create a career that lives on creative freedom.

It’s a job that combines storytelling, cutting-edge technologies, and innovation.

Moreover, job openings for this occupation climbed by 5.31 percent worldwide, with an estimated yearly rise of 5.31 percent. Requirement for video game designers is predicted to increase, with 32,090 job vacancies anticipated to be filled by 2029.

The best place to start learning about video game design books. Books offer your in-depth knowledge of the basics before your start programming and give you that boost of confidence that’s so important for every game developer.

In this article, we will talk about the best books for video game design that will help you take your desired career path.

Best Books for Video Game Design

1. A Theory of Fun for Game Design

Theory of Fun for Game Design

Author: Raph Koster
Publisher: O’ Reilley
Edition: 2nd
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Raph Koster is a seasoned game developer who has received professional recognition in nearly every aspect of the gaming business. He’s been the primary developer and producer on large blockbusters like Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies.

He’s also contributed narrative, artwork, music composition, and coding to a slew of other products spanning from Facebook games to portable console single-player blockbusters.

About the book

This classic book delves into the factors that shape current video games and looks at the similarities and differences between them and traditional games like checkers. Raph Koster, a renowned game designer, examines the concept of fun and why it’s the most important aspect of any game at the center of his investigation.

Why do some games get tedious after a short time while others remain enjoyable for years? What role do games play as important and effective learning aids? This illustrated, updated version helps you grasp what drives this huge cultural force and pushes you to go further, whether you’re a game developer, a passionate gamer, or a curious spectator.

What you’ll learn

  • Our intrinsic propensity to discover patterns and solve problems is enhanced by games
  • The majority of popular games are based on the same components
  • Females currently outnumber males in-game participation
  • Many video games continue to teach basic survival skills
  • The fictional dressing for current games has progressed faster than the intellectual aspects
  • Other games are seldom used to inspire very inventive creators
  • Games are progressing beyond their primitive origins

You can buy this book from here.

2. Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Level Up The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Author: Scott Rogers
Publisher: Wiley
Edition: 2nd
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Scott Rogers (Thousand Oaks, CA) works at Walt Disney as a Principal Imagineer. Scott went on a career designing games for a variety of successful games, including Sony’s GOD OF WAR, and THQ’s DRAWN TO LIFE series, after realizing that game developers had more fun.

About the book

The SECOND EDITION of the critically acclaimed Level Up! is for you if you want to design and develop cutting-edge computer games but don’t know where to begin. This new edition, written by acclaimed video game specialist Scott Rogers, who developed the hits Maximo, Pac Man World, and SpongeBob Squarepants, replaces theoretical gobbledygook with attractively illustrated principles and ideas based on years of practical experience.

Level Up! 2nd Edition has been NEWLY EXPANDED to educate you how to build commercial ideas, discover what mistakes to avoid during the pre-production, production, and post-production stages of a game, as well as provide even more innovative ideas to power your future projects.

What you’ll learn

  • Creating your game concept from the first spark of an idea to the final result
  • Learning how to create the most thrilling courses, the most accurate controls, and the most ferocious opponents that will keep your gamers challenged
  • Developing games for smartphone and console platforms, with precise guidelines for touch and motion controllers
  • From the ground up, you may monetize your game
  • Writing professional and effective design papers with the aid of innovative new examples

You can buy this book from here.

3. The Art of Game Design

The Art of Game Design A Book of Lenses, Third Edition

Author: Jesse Schell
Publisher: AK Peters
Edition: 3rd
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Jesse Schell is an internet entertainment teacher at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC), a combined master’s degree between Carnegie Mellon’s College of Fine Arts and School of Computer Science, where he teaches game design and directs many research projects.

About the book

Over 100 sets of questions, or distinct glasses, for looking at a game’s design are presented. This book, authored by one of the world’s leading game creators, explains the basic and most essential concepts of game design, explaining how techniques used in the plan, deck, and sports games may also be applied in video games.

It teaches you how to make world-class games that you’ll want to play time after time. Many new examples from emerging VR and AR platforms, as well as examples from recent games like Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us, Free Play games, hybrid games, transformative games, and more, are included in this version.

You can buy this book from here.

4. Game Design Workshop

Game Design Workshop A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Fourth Edition

Author: Tracy Fullerton
Publisher: AK Peters
Edition: 3rd
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Tracy Fullerton is a multi-award-winning game developer and instructor with over 20 years of expertise, most recently earning the Games for Change Game of the Year Award for her independent game Walden.

About the book

This book shows you how to make the digital games you want to play using a non-technical strategy to game design that doesn’t require any programming or artistic skills.

Tracy Fullerton, an award-winning author, deconstructs the creative process by providing clear advice on the technical and dramatic principles of game creation.

The book teaches you the knowledge and resources you need to develop a captivating and engaging game by using examples of popular games, representations of design principles, and tailored exercises to deepen your understanding of how game systems work.

The 4th edition has been entirely updated to incorporate the extended version of new platforms and types of play, such as casual games and educational games. It builds on agile development methodologies and offers a slew of new perspectives from leading game designers in the industry.

With time-tested methodologies and tools, Game Design Workshop helps you prototype, playtest, and revise your own games. These abilities will help you succeed in any aspect of the game industry, including design, production, programming, and graphic elements.

What you’ll learn

  • Role of game designer
  • Structure of games
  • Working with formal elements
  • Learn working with dramatic elements
  • Working with system diaries
  • Conceptualization
  • Prototyping

You can buy this book from here.

5. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals

Rules of Play Game Design Fundamentals (The MIT Press)

Author: Eric Zimmerman
Publisher: The MIT press
Edition: 1st
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Eric Zimmerman is a game developer, writer, and professor with over sixteen years of experience in the gaming business. He created Gamelab, a New York-based indie gaming studio.

He has worked on a variety of computer and non-computer games, including Gamelab’s popular title Diner Dash, the groundbreaking web game SiSSYFiGHT 2000, and the MacArthur grant-funded Gamestar Mechanic.

About the book

An ardent examination of games and game creation proposes the most ambitious framework for comprehending them to date.

Games are as significant as film or television in terms of pop culture, but the field of game design has yet to create a conceptual framework or critical lexicon. Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman give a much-needed tutorial for this developing field in Rules of Play.

They provide a single framework for analyzing all types of games, including board games, sports, and computer and video games. The writers wrote Rules of Play as a stimulant for innovation, loaded with new concepts, methods, and approaches for developing and understanding games, as actively participating in-game culture.

You can buy this book from here.

6. Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games

Game Design How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish

Author: Lewis Pulsipher
Edition: 5th
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Dr. Lewis Pulsipher is the creator of a half-dozen commercially marketed board games. In an Armchair General assessment, his game “Britannia” is referred to as “one of the finest names in the world of gaming.”

He has over 17,000 lecture hours of classroom experience, including educating computer game design and development, and over 20 years of part-time postgraduate classroom teaching.

About the book

Many prospective game designers have severe misconceptions about the process of developing a game from the ground up, assuming that all they need is a “big idea” to get started. However, game creation takes both action and intellect, as well as the necessary training and practice.

A published commercial game designer and a veteran teacher give practical education in the art of video and tabletop game design in this indispensable guide.

The various forms of games, crucial preliminaries of building a game, the nuts, and bolts of conceiving a game, developing a prototype, testing, planning levels, technological aspects, and determining the nature of the audience are only some of the topics covered.

This manual is necessary for aspiring game designers and offers food for thought for even the most seasoned professionals, including practice problems, a list of resources for additional investigation, and a glossary of industry terms.

What you’ll learn

  • The process of game design
  • What is a game and what makes it a good game?
  • How to work and improve the prototype
  • Some specific video game design issues
  • Desiging specific types of games

You can buy this book from here.

7. Fundamentals of Game Design

Fundamentals of Game Design

Author: Ernest Adams
Publisher: New Riders
Edition: 3rd
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Ernest Adams is a 22-year professional in the video game business who has worked as a coder, producer, designer, and design advisor.

About the book

The classic book on digital games has been thoroughly updated to reflect the most recent advancements in the industry. The basics of conceptual design, gameplay design, core gameplay, interface design, narrative, and balancing will be taught to readers. You’ll learn how to make games for mobile smartphones and touch screens, as well as for Kinect and motion-capture games.

Additionally, you will discover how independent developers are pushing the boundaries and how new economic models like free-to-play are affecting design. Adams provides a first-hand glimpse into the process of game design, from concept to final tuning, in an easy-to-follow format.

End-of-chapter tasks, design worksheets, and case studies are all included in this comprehensive resource.

What you’ll learn

  • Game and video games
  • The major genres
  • Understanding your player
  • Understanding your machine
  • Creative and expressive play
  • Character development
  • Storytelling

You can buy this book from here.

8. Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation

Game Feel A Game Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation (Morgan Kaufmann Game Design Books)

Author: Steve Swink
Publisher: CRC
Edition: 1st
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the book

“Game Feel” reveals “feel” as a previously unseen language in game design that no one has properly characterized. The language can be contrasted to the building blocks of music, these building blocks are used regardless of the instruments, style, or time period. When it comes to game design, feel and sensation is similar to building pieces. They produce the meta-sensation of game involvement.

Most in the field only have a rudimentary understanding of how game designers produce and effect feel, and it is frequently neglected as a method or course of study, despite the fact that a game’s feel is critical to its success. This book clarifies the concept of feeling by combining current theories.

A playset with ready-made tools for designing feel in games is available on the associated website, as are six important components for creating a virtual sensation. There’s also a play palette, so the designer can get a sense of how important that component is by changing variables and feeling the effects. The playset allows readers to try out each of the feelings described in the book before applying them to their own projects. Creating a game-like experience without having to program.

What you’ll learn

  • The role of sound
  • Supplementary indications
  • The value of metaphor
  • How people view things
  • A short background of feel in games

You can buy this book from here.

9. Game Programming Patterns

Game Programming Patterns

Author: Robert Nystroms
Publisher: Genever benning
Edition: 1st
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Robert Nystrom has been programming professionally for almost twenty years, with around half of that time spent in games. He collaborated on behemoths like Madden and lesser titles like Henry Hatsworth in the Puzzling Adventure during his eight years at Electronic Arts.

About the book

Many game programmers’ hardest issue is finishing their game. The intricacy of their own coding overwhelms most game initiatives, causing them to fail. Game Programming Patterns is a book that specifically addresses this issue.

This book combines proven principles to untangle and streamline your game, arranged as discrete recipes so you may pick just the patterns you need, based on years of experience with shipped AAA blockbusters.

What you’ll learn

  • How to construct a solid game loop
  • Use components to organize your entities
  • Take full advantage of the CPU cache to boost performance
  • How scripting algorithms encode functionality
  • Quadtrees and other spatial divisions can help your engine run faster
  • How other design principles might be applied to games

You can buy this book from here.

10. Challenges for Game Designers

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

Author: MS Brenda
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Edition: 1st
Available in: Kindle, Paperback

About the author

Brenda Romero, an award-winning game designer, artist, and Fulbright scholar, began working in the video game business in 1981. She has worked on numerous landmark titles as a designer, such as the Wizardry and Jagged Alliance series, as well as entries in the Ghost Recon and Dungeons & Dragons brands.

About the book

Welcome to a book that will test you, develop your brainstorming skills, and help you improve your game design abilities! Game Designers’ Obstacles: Non-Digital Activities for Video Game Designers is chock-full of fun, engaging, and challenging exercises to help you improve as a video game designer, whether you’re a pro or just starting out.

Each chapter focuses on a distinct aspect of game creation that has been gleaned through real-world experience. Following a quick overview of the topic, you will be given five tasks, each of which will take less than two hours and will allow you to apply the content, investigate the issue, and broaden your knowledge in that area.

There are also ten “non-digital shorts” in each chapter to help you develop your talents. This manual is necessary for aspiring game designers and offers food for thought for even the most seasoned professionals, including practice problems, a list of resources for additional investigation, and a glossary of industry terms.

What you’ll learn

  • The basics
  • Game design atoms
  • Constraints on game design
  • Common terms in game design

You can buy this book from here.


Hopefully, the aforementioned books will help you achieve your dream career in no time. The market is brimming with so many video game design books that you may get overwhelmed while deciding where to start. That is why we have created this list of the most popular ones. If there is a book that you think deserves to be on the list, do let us know via the comments.

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