2nd Edition

Learning Video Game Design on the Tabletop

By Ethan Ham Copyright 2025
    348 Pages 131 Color & 17 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    348 Pages 131 Color & 17 B/W Illustrations
    by CRC Press

    Learn the mechanics that take your game from an idea to a playable product.


    Do you aspire to be a game designer but aren’t sure where to begin? Learning Video Game Design on the Tabletop guides you through your initial attempts to design game mechanics. It goes beyond simple description and definition to explore in detail the issues that designers grapple with for every game they create.


    Learning to design tabletop games builds a solid foundation for game designers and provides methods that can be applied towards creating paper prototypes of computer-targeted games. Presented in a step-by-step format, this book helps the reader understand how the game design skills that are acquired through creating tabletop games can be used when designing video games. Fully playable games accompany every topic so you can truly understand and experience each component that goes into game creation.


    The Second Edition includes:

    • Simple, highly focused games that can be played, analyzed, improved, and/or modified in conjunction with a particular topic in the book.

    • Integrated game design exercises, chapter learning objectives, and in-text sidebars to provide further examples to apply directly to your game creation process.
    • Essays from professional tabletop and video game designers in which they describe their professional journeys and design philosophies.

    1.        Getting Started

    2.        Diving In

    3.        Foundations

    4.        Choices

    5.        Stories

    6.        Chance

    7.        Structure

    8.        Playtesting Tabletop Games

    9.        Balance

    10.     Economies

    11.     Turns, Ticks, & Time

    12.     Designing Autonomy

    13.     Prototyping Videogames


    Further Reading





    Ethan Ham has eleven years’ experience in the computer game & media industry as a game designer, programmer, and producer. He has helped develop games that have garnered numerous awards including E3 Game Critic "Best Simulation Game," the Academic of Interactive Arts & Sciences "Best Massively Multiplayer Game," and Game Industry News "Online Game of the Year." In addition to his ongoing work developing and writing about games, Ethan is an Associate Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Interactive Media at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.