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3.1 out of 5 stars
Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
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on October 18, 2014
Has interesting topics and details about the psychology behind games and it covers a lot of material. It is a bit out of date but many theories still apply to games today! Its quite big and heavy so not good for carrying around everywhere...
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on February 8, 2010
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.
This book doesn't deal on how to build / make a game but how to break down any game out there into the underlying structures that form the game at hand, allowing you as a designer to take those underlying structures and create a new game. This book is about creating a common language between game designers to be able to analyze, classify and talk about games.

This book doesn't require any Computer knowledge at all in order to read and understand it.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2004
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. The fundamentals have changed, and this book is showing it's age in a big way. If you are interested in learning more about true fundamentals to game design, check out Chris Crawford's great book on the topic. Money is tight for every student, don't invest in this under whelming hog wash.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2004
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.
By the way, the spotlight reviewer "Nikita" is a close friend of the author, so now you know why he's so enthusiastic about it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2004
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 to write puzzles, or how to work with technology. There's plenty of books that cover those aspects already (Richard Rouse, Ernest Adams, etc.)
Instead, Rules of Play is all about fundamental game concepts. What are games, really? What are the different models to look at games? Rules of Play gives you an enormous understanding of the actual mechanics of gameplay that no other book has offered to date.
Other reviewers are upset by the fact that this book uses both digital and board games as examples. A lot of them discredit the authors because they haven't designed any games they've heard about. That's pretty shortsighted, and unappreciative of the valuable high-level concepts presented in this book.
A game played with dice might not have Isomorphic Real-Time X-Treme Bloomed Shadowing Effects, but it does have a pureness that will allow you to look at the game undistracted by its superficial elements.
Is John Carmack more qualified to talk about games? If that's what you think, you're probably a programmer at heart -- not a game designer.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2004
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 dimes.
This is exactly what's giving acadamic game research a bad name.
I can't imagine anyone who would find this gibberish useful.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This book shows how to analyze games, rather than design them. As such, it easily covers its bases. It is not light reading, and it is a textbook of sorts, but it is a very fun read.
It takes adequate time to define and present abstract concepts and qualities that games have. It looks at games from many different angles. It presents three distict levels (or "schemas") in describing games: as collections of rules, as systems of play, and as cultural systems. I find it refreshing that the authors did not take a "one size fits all" approach.
Those who would like to design their own games would find this book very useful. Those who want a tutorial that explains how to design certain types of games would probably be disappointed.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2004
As a life-long game designer, I've worked on dozens of projects from multi-million dollar blockbusters to academic experimentation & pure research. The current glut of high brow nonsense being passed on as educational literature appalls me. Case in point: The authors here have laughable credentials. Furthermore, anyone with the internet can get this "information" for free. Cashing in on a gullible public has become a ubiquitous pastime in the game literature pyramid scheme, don't fall victim to it's wrath.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
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 call them "schemas". Rules of Play takes seemingly disparate "schemas" and reveals how they inform and are informed by game design. In addition the design notes of game designers like Richard Garfield and Reiner Knizia for the commissioned games that appear in the book tie the theoretical underpinnings of the book to the actual working process of designing games.
The text is rigorous, well researched , informative and incredibly enjoyable. I have read many books on the subject and with few exceptions this one stands head and shoulders above the rest.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2004
This is not the first book on game design but it is the best. It is comprehensive yet comprehensible. Salen and Zimmerman break game design down in a logical manner and present to the reader step by step. It is not a book about coding electronic games. It is about the design principles of all games, whether they are played with bits, bats, chips or checkers. It is about games as a cultural code.
The book is organized into four sections. The first gives the basic concepts. The three chapters that follow break game design down into three 'primary schemas': Rules, Play and Culture. This analytic approach to games has the virtue of clear organization and logical progression.
The authors have extensive experience in both game design and design education, and above all love games and game cultures.
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