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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of subtle gems
I was a little cross and disappointed when I first opened this book which I want to say up-front was my fault, not the book's. I'm more used to reading technical books, of the how-to and reference variety, and I was time-pressed, looking for an impossible quick fix. This book is a verbose, meandering philosophical exploration of game design and everything that touches...
Published 14 months ago by Gareth

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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Many Lenses
The most helpful part of this book is actually the beginning, where the author encourages you to just go and start making a game. "Game design is not a set of principles, it is an activity." A few pages after, the author defines "listening" as the most important quality of a game designer. Being a professional game designer myself, I can't agree more. The author didn't...
Published on 1 Nov. 2012 by theflyingbag


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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Many Lenses, 1 Nov. 2012
This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
The most helpful part of this book is actually the beginning, where the author encourages you to just go and start making a game. "Game design is not a set of principles, it is an activity." A few pages after, the author defines "listening" as the most important quality of a game designer. Being a professional game designer myself, I can't agree more. The author didn't help me to sharpen one particular skill, but he changed my perspective and I found it greatly helpful for my career.

However, with more and more lenses being revealed, I found the content broad but shallow. You can easily find examples like this one: "The Lens of Balance" - Does my game feel right? Why or why not? "The Lens of Story" - How can my story be better? It's not constructive or helpful. It's just like you are having your game design reviewed by your lead, and the only feedback you got is "make it better".

The more I read the book, the more I feel the author tries very hard to find enough different principles to fill the 100 lenses. Naming them lenses also doesn't change the fact they are the principles that the author mentioned in the very beginning.

The best thing about this book is it teaches you to have a wide view of your game design, to see it from as many different angles as possible. But also, it fails to reflect the harsh reality of making a video game, and almost every time you have to make the hard decision to ignore most lenses and only focus on the core experience you would like to deliver.

One last thing worth mentioning is the book uses the game ICO as an example in explaining the indirect control. Although it doesn't change the point the author tries to make, but he made a mistake here. The game doesn't have a clever timer mechanic. The evil spirits' appearance is entirely scripted. If you are in a safe place, they wouldn't appear no matter how long you stay. It's a minor point, but to me it seems important when an author tries to explain game mechanics when he fails to understand it fully, and starts to use it as an example in his book.

It is certainly not a bad book. If you are new to game design, the book is a great introduction, but as broad as it is, it lacks depth and practicality.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of subtle gems, 16 Mar. 2014
By 
Gareth "Gruff" (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
I was a little cross and disappointed when I first opened this book which I want to say up-front was my fault, not the book's. I'm more used to reading technical books, of the how-to and reference variety, and I was time-pressed, looking for an impossible quick fix. This book is a verbose, meandering philosophical exploration of game design and everything that touches. I quickly realised this is perfectly evident in the title: "The art of", not the science or technology of. Once I'd readjusted my expectations, I settled down and started reading the book as it was intended to be read. I'm only half-way through (it's a big book) but I'm so won over I feel it merited a review. Schell has written a book that will make you a better games designer if you're willing to invest the time it takes to understand what games are and are not and what being a games designer means. Highly recommended.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book!, 15 Dec. 2009
This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
Jesse Schell's Art of Game Design is a great book. With a variety of anecdotes and definitions it gives really useful - and relevant - explanations about what a game designer's objectives are. Although Schell writes that game design isn't an exact science, the book breaks down games into small elements in order to show what they are really made of - spaces, structures, mechanics etc, and describes them one by one in a very comprehensive fashion. He also writes a lot about entertainment in general, allowing the reader to get valuable clues about why a movie, book or game meets success, and why some other does not.

We, game designers (especially students), often find it difficult to put into words what really defines our profession, and it all can get a bit blurry when you don't know how to call this or that. What's so great about Art of Game Design is that it helps you put words on things. Througout the book I kept having this pleasant feeling of, "heeey, I knew that, so it's how you actually call it?"

Also, one of the most interesting parts of the book are the "lenses". Through these, Schell shows ways to identify problematics in the building of your game by looking at it from certain perspectives; then, using the lenses, it becomes easy to see what's wrong and should be changed / corrected, or what works well and should be made more visible.

With helpful - and often funny - considerations about narration, target demographics, creative thinking, architecture and design in general, Art of Game Design will teach you many, many things if you're a student, and will provide useful tools if you're a professional. In either case, you will keep the book on your desk after reading it and you'll come back to it very, very often.

So again, a great book!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this book is hard to beat, 18 May 2011
By 
Alex P (Amsterdam, Netherlands) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
I am not a professional game designer but I am trying to get there as a hobbyist. I can do programming well, I have ideas but I needed to find a way to transform them into something that would be fun for me to do and for the user to experience. I have tried a couple of game design books but I must say this is the best one and is very inspiring. It tries to explain what the process of designing a game means while looking at games from all different point of views: game theory, psychology, entertainment, social interaction, technology, etc...
Definitely a must for any (professional/amateur/wannabe/anything else) game designer out there.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic for Students, 8 Nov. 2011
This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
I was quite skeptical as to how muh this book would be of use when my tutor recommended it for my course in computer game design. But it has been a massive influence on how I now create games, be it on a computer or the board game that I made for an assignment.
Provides strong philosophical, anthropological and psychological insights into many matters of game design, and encourages many different methods and use of view points of games and their inner workings.
I'm always carrying thus book in my bag and will often refer back to the lenses in times of doubt and unclear paths forward.
Absolutely fantastic.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book about design I ever read, 3 April 2010
By 
Greverie Nicolas (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
As a professional game designer myself, i heard a lot about Jesse Schell, so i decided to pick this book. Simply amazing!
This book talk about a wide variety of fields, from human mind to game balance and it help to improve the design process.
It's also a great book for those who want to start learning about designing games, not only videogames, as the lens sum up the different chapter and not get you overwhelm by all the information and reflexion in it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 17 Sept. 2010
By 
Anthony Wood (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
I bought this book for my son who is 14 years old and he found it truly inspirational (and asked me to write this review). It has taught him a great deal about game design and also raised his appreciation of design everywhere. It promotes a creative way of thinking and a creative view of the world then relates this back to game design...highly recommended. He codes to a high level but that's not required to benefit from this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must buy!, 10 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
This book is fantastic. It took me a while to get into it near the first chapter or two however later on it gets much more technical and brilliant. It offers great advice and you learn things that you would never consider before. It is easy to understand and you would not believe the level of detail it covers. I do not have any criticism because it covers everything I hoped it would and much more. This is a must buy!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Game design teaching brilliance!, 16 Mar. 2010
By 
Marque Pierre Sondergaard (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
I just humbly want to join the masses already praising Jesse Schell's book on games design. It deserves every bit of the praise and accolade heaped upon it. I have never come across as such an inspiring, un-pretentious and thorough book. I don't suspect I will need another book on games design, no matter my level of expertise, over the next couple of decades.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Book For Any Designer., 23 Nov. 2010
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This review is from: The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses (Paperback)
This book by Jesse Schell is a godsend for anyone that is planning on becoming, is currently studying, or even has studied and is working with the field of design.

the book is an amazing piece of work to read just as a book. it has amazing ideas in, it gives amazing ideas, and its just plain awesome.

Worth the money if you're a design student!
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The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses
The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses by Jesse Schell (Paperback - 12 Sept. 2008)
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