Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Game Design: Looking Through Lenses

I've always been a sucker for game design and try to read everything I can get my hands on. One of the presents I got for Christmas was a book I've been lusting over called "The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses," by Jesse Schell.

Even after just starting this book, I can tell you that it's amazing. It is a text book (which means expensive, long, and boring), but what is really great is that they teach you to look at your game from specific points of view - something I think many game designers lack the discipline to do.

I could easily design a game that I think is fun, but what about other people? What would be the main goal of various rules? What about a theme?

This book provides 100 different lenses in which you should analyze your game, complete with the questions you should ask. Lenses include:

Lens of Fairness
Lens of Economy
Lens of Reward
Lens of Punishment
Lens of Griefing
Lens of Simplicity/Complexity

And many more. So for all you aspiring game designers out there, I would heartily suggest that you pick up this book and use the lenses it gives you.


  1. Thanks for this article and I have to agree with you. I purchased this book a while back and have read through it and it's an amazing book that does get you thinking about points one does not normally think of when designing games. It sits on my shelf alongside Rules of Play, The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology, Pervasive Games: Theory and Design, Game Design: Theory and Practice and Beyond Reality: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming (and PDFs of LARP books and papers on theory and design on my computer).

    This is one of those books that is a must read for anyone wanting to do serious game design weather as an amateur or professional. I rank it up there with Rules of Play as I have found it that valuable. Also, unlike most textbooks that are boring and dry, Schell's wit keeps things fresh and the reading enjoyable. He's also got a way of framing ideas and concepts in such a fashion that they are easy to comprehend, even the first read through the book. Subsequent readings will only help me broaden my understanding further.

    - Amber E.
    Mortalis Games

  2. I just bought my own copy from amazon, can't wait to take a look. I've been in game design for about 4 years, and I'm looking forward to a text that will perhaps give me some new insight.