Game Design Theory : A New Philosophy for Understanding Games book cover
1st Edition

Game Design Theory
A New Philosophy for Understanding Games

ISBN 9781466554207
Published August 13, 2012 by A K Peters/CRC Press
188 Pages 31 B/W Illustrations

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $54.95

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Despite the proliferation of video games in the twenty-first century, the theory of game design is largely underdeveloped, leaving designers on their own to understand what games really are. Helping you produce better games, Game Design Theory: A New Philosophy for Understanding Games presents a bold new path for analyzing and designing games.

The author offers a radical yet reasoned way of thinking about games and provides a holistic solution to understanding the difference between games and other types of interactive systems. He clearly details the definitions, concepts, and methods that form the fundamentals of this philosophy. He also uses the philosophy to analyze the history of games and modern trends as well as to design games.

Providing a robust, useful philosophy for game design, this book gives you real answers about what games are and how they work. Through this paradigm, you will be better equipped to create fun games.

Table of Contents

The Death of Tetris
Our Story
My Story
Problem Statement
On Game Design
Game Design Theory Today
What This book Is
What This book Is Not
Why Video Games?

The Concept of "Game"
Types of Interactive Systems
The Abstract and the Literal
The "Meaningful" Decision
Are Games "Art"?
Games: The "Finer" Interactive System
Game-Playing Itself Is An Art
The Value of Games?
Misconceptions about Games
Games Can Occur Naturally
"Video Games" and the Value of Words

Game Design
Do You Want to Make a Game?
Games and Story 
Understanding Design 
"Let's Add Some Fun!"
Continuous or Discrete Space
Execution vs. Decisions
"Survival", "Completion" and "Game Difficulty"
Inherent/Emergent Complexity
Information and Solvability
False Choices
Too Many Choices
Take Nothing for Granted
Become an Expert
|Studying Games
Related Disciplines

How We Got Here
Ancient History
The 20th Century
The Promise of SpaceWar! 
The Video Game "Generations"
The Alternate Reality of PC Games
Other Notable Areas
Looking Back

Through the Lens: Videogames
Problems Common to Almost All Genres
On Brawlers
On Third Person Action
On Real-Time Strategy
On Turn-Based Strategy
Role-Playing Games
On Sports Games
On Racing Games
On Fighting Games
On FPS Games
On Platformers
Other Genres
"Videogames" That Aren't Games

Through the Lens: Boardgames
Area-Control games
Bidding Games
Roleplaying Games
Cooperative Games
Role-Selection/Worker Placement Games
Card Games
Abstract Games
Other Genres

Rise of Indies

View More



Keith Burgun is a game designer, writer, composer, and visual artist who has been developing games independently for nearly 20 years. He writes for Gamasutra, Destructoid, and several other popular websites, including his own blog at Dinofarm Games. He is a founding member of Dinofarm Games and produced its first commercial game 100 Rogues for the iOS platform. He also teaches game design and animation courses at local art schools.


While literature and music, for example, stand on a solid theoretical foundation, the theory of game design is much less developed. … It is possible that thought-provoking books such as this one may be just the spark required to kick start the industrial revolution of game design.
—From the Foreword by Reiner Knizia