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Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals [Hardcover]

Katie Salen Tekinbas , Eric Zimmerman
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 62.25
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Book Description

Sept. 25 2003 0262240459 978-0262240451 1

As pop culture, games are as important as film or television--but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field. They offer a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games. As active participants in game culture, the authors have written Rules of Play as a catalyst for innovation, filled with new concepts, strategies, and methodologies for creating and understanding games..Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like "play," "design," and "interactivity." They look at games through a series of eighteen "game design schemas," or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance.Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.


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Review

" Rules of Play is an exhaustive, clear, cogent, and complete resource for understanding games and game design. Salen and Zimmerman describe an encyclopedia of game design issues, techniques, and attributes. In particular, they analyze the elements that can make a game experience richer, more interesting, more emotional, more meaningful, and, ultimately, more successful. It should be the first stop you make when learning about game design." Nathan Shedroff , author of Experience Design



" Rules of Play makes a monumental contribution to the development of game theory, criticism, and design. It will instantly become a standard textbook in the field on the basis of its rigor and scope—yet it is written in such an engaging style that many will read it for pleasure. Salen and Zimmerman do for games what Sergei Eisenstein did for cinema—offer an expert practitioner"sperspective on central aspects of the aesthetics and cultural importance of an emerging medium." Henry Jenkins , Director of Comparative Media Studies, MIT



"This is the most impressive book on game design I've ever seen. Broad in scope yet rich in detail, Rules of Play sets a new standard for game analysis." Will Wright , Game Designer of Sim City and The Sims



"*Rules of Play* is an exhaustive, clear, cogent, and complete resource for understanding games and game design. Though successful, the game world is in dire need of innovation -- from the endless repetition of themes and structures, celebrity characters, and movie and television tie-ins -- and this book points the way forward. Salen and Zimmerman describe an encyclopedia of game design issues, techniques, and attributes. In particular, they analyze the elements that can make a game experience richer, more interesting, more emotional, more meaningful, and, ultimately, more successful. It should be the first stop you make when learning about game design."--Nathan Shedroff, author of *Experience Design 1*Please note: Endorser gives permission to excerpt from quote.



"This is the most impressive book on game design I've ever seen. Broad in scope yet rich in detail, *Rules of Play* sets a new standard for game analysis."--Wil Wright, Game Designer of *Sim City* and *The Sims*



"The future is created at the intersection of business, technology, design, and culture. *In the Bubble* is an insightful and delightful explanation of this nexus and of how each force affects the others. Designers often miss a great deal in their educations about the real people who will use and inhabit their work. Thackara astutely illuminates a lot of what designers don't know they're missing."--Nathan Shedroff, author of *Experience Design 1*

About the Author

Katie Salen Tekinbaş is Professor in the School of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University and Chief Designer and Researcher at Institute of Play.

Eric Zimmerman is a game designer, game design theorist, and co-founder and CEO of gameLab. He has taught at universities including MIT, the University of Texas, Parsons School of Design, New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Little insight from an inexperienced pair. Jan. 24 2004
Format:Hardcover
When I received a copy of this book I didn't have any solid expectations. I had never heard of Zimmerman or Salen before and so I wasn't overly surprised when the text turned to disappoint. If you look into the authors credentials you'll find that neither have any experience in game design beyond a beginner/hobbyist level. I felt mislead by the bravado the authors put forth in assuming authority on a subject they are blatantly unqualified to comment on. Overall the book delves into game design on only a very shallow level.
On the brighter side, if you're a game player with a passing interest in old school design, or just want to know the opinions of some retro-gamers, you might care to check this book out. For anyone else, I'd suggest alternatives: "Game Design: Theory and Practice" and especially "Chris Crawford on Game Design". Both contain intelligent analysis from truly experienced designers with much more relevance to modern game design.
The bottom line is that there are just too many good alternatives to be interested in this instantly forgettable material.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre at best. Easily forgettable. Jan. 5 2004
Format:Hardcover
Managed to finally get through this wordy behemoth. Now that I have, I'm not sure that it was worth the battle. The historic/cultural analysis is quite one sided, leaving the most controversial topics entirely untouched. The text reads like a "retro-gamers guide to the universe", and fails to offer any meaningful examination of game design topics. Certainly not enough to warrant calling it a "textbook" or "reference book" (as the books description claims).
If you are interested in game design, skip this one and look to others like Chris Crawford for intellectual stimulation.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Academic treatise Dec 18 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Reading a book about the theory of games is like reading a book about the theory of humor: nowhere near as interesting or as satisfying you'd imagine it to be.
This book is not a cookbook for designing games, although it does offer lots of useful advice and numerous examples of game design. According to the authors, it's an attempt at creating a "critical vocabulary" for game design.
Early on, they say that we shouldn't take their definitions seriously, and that they know they are incomplete and leave out examples. But, they say, new ideas come when you start to think about and argue definitions. Thus, definitions are just a rhetorical device, and not meant to be taken in the same way as definitions in, say, science. This is an interesting tactic that drives people in science nuts: in science, definitions are fundamental tools for building theories and making explanations. To a scientist, it appears that the authors want it both ways: the apparent rigor of a definitional approach, but without the committment. (In science, *stories* and analogies are more likely to be used as rhetorical devices.)
Like most academic writing of this sort, the writing itself comes in various shades of purple, but it is generally clear and direct.
One interesting feature of the book is the 4 new games that were commissioned just for the book; the designers were asked to keep logs during the design, and these are re-printed in the book. It's interesting to read the thought processes of the designers --- more interesting than the main text, most of the time!
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST BOOK ON BOARD GAME DESIGN Jan. 19 2004
Format:Hardcover
(NOTE: This is the final review of the book. I wrote preliminary reviews which have since been cleaned up by Amazon; unfortunately it looks like they left my negative review that was submitted to balance my multiple positive reviews.)
The Summary
This is the BEST BOOK ON BOARD GAME DESIGN that I have read and I have read many! The book is well written, it is thorough in its analysis, has references and bibliographies that allow you to explore the authors' research yourself. I had high expectations for this book and that normally leads to being a little disappointed, but this book not only met my high expectations but actually exceeded them! This book isn't for the impatient programmer who just wants to know how to write the next First Person Shooter, or the person who wants to be told some quick methods to come up with new ideas for games. This is for the serious student who wants to really understand game design and what it truly means to design immersive, balanced and compelling game play.
I have been reading and researching game design for over 10 years now. I have been writing computer games for over 20 years. Over the last 4 years I have been researching board games, since discovering the European board games that have been doing so well across the pond, I got hooked and realized that these games were the embodiment of great game design. I decided that to become better at designing computer games I should learn what makes games like Settler's of Catan and Carcassonne so compelling. So for the last few years I have been exploring the theory of game design. Since there wasn't much out on board game design specifically, I read newsgroups, web site articles and the plethora of books coming out on computer game design.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars I had to buy this book for University
I've seen some people review negatively this book, but I think it is because they expected something else, a book on how to create a game. Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2010 by Thomas Z.
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good for students of game making.
While it is a nice romp through the games culture of the 1980's, it really has no input on the world of games today. Read more
Published on May 29 2004 by Amy Talen
1.0 out of 5 stars A great door-stop!
Failing at virtually every level to deliver useful information, this book is a whole lot of dead weight. If you are a student of games, you have many superior options. Read more
Published on May 9 2004 by Greg Banning
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally! A conceptual framework for game design
If you're looking for a "how to" book on game design, don't buy Rules of Play. It won't tell you how to write a design doc, or how to reward players with powerups, or how... Read more
Published on April 14 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Many words, little content
The authors treat you to a pretentious, hollow, lopsided ivory tower view of what games are and then summarize each section by having a guest writer design a game to be played with... Read more
Published on Feb. 24 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Teaches the analysis of games
This book shows how to analyze games, rather than design them. As such, it easily covers its bases. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by Louis E. Dargin
1.0 out of 5 stars Dodge this bullet!
As a life-long game designer, I've worked on dozens of projects from multi-million dollar blockbusters to academic experimentation & pure research. Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by "john_l_s"
5.0 out of 5 stars an invaluable resource
This is an excellent text for serious students of game design. Game design like other forms of design is influenced and influences many other fields of study or as the authors... Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2004 by Nikita Mikros
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book on Game design
This is not the first book on game design but it is the best. It is comprehensive yet comprehensible. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2004 by K. Wark
5.0 out of 5 stars Much More Than Simply Game Design Fundamentals
Read Rules of Play cover to cover and found it not only fascinating and extraordinarily informative, but also compelling, entertaining, and provocative. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by Ruth Charny
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