Staffan Björk has a Ph.D. in Informatics from Göteborg University, Sweden. He has been the studio manager of the PLAY studio at the Interactive Institute in Sweden between 2001 and 2003 and currently works part time as senior researcher at PLAY and part time teaching at Chalmers University of Technology. He is elected president of the Swedish human-computer interaction interest group, member of the executive board of the Digital Games Research Association, and author of many articles about game research. Jussi Holopainen is heading Game Design Group at Nokia Research Center, Finland. He has authored or co-authored several papers on game design and he is currently member of the executive board of the Digital Games Research Association.
A mediocre effort of analysis and abstraction. There are a lot of patterns in the book but no theoretical basis to hold them together or explain them, the book reads like a draft. I recommend joris dormans book: "game mechanics, advanced game design" for a much more useful pattern library.
1.0 out of 5 starsThis is NOT a design patterns book.
January 26, 2006 - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book in part because I believed it would be the game programming equivalent of the famous Gang of Four "Design Patterns" book. This is nowhere near the case; nowhere in this book is there any mention of how games might actually be structured or organized at the code or object level. Patterns in Game Design is nothing more than a dictionary of features appearing in games.
Examples are "patterns" such as 'Identification' which is basically defined as players identifying with aspects of the game.
Games can have "Alliances" or the potential for "Betrayal" and the authors do not say much more than any common sense person could deduce about such features in a game.
Anyone with even a modicum of experience in the gaming world has no real use for this list of game-possible-features. These possibilities are understood implicitly by anyone who has ever played even a small number of modern computer games.
At best this book might galvanize the imaginations of someone who has no idea what their game should do.
Don't be mislead by the name of this book, it is not "Design Patterns in Games" it is "Patterns in Game Design." Many of the people below have misread the title and have bought it before doing their research.
This is a book on game design, on a method of formal analysis that needs more attention in the game design world. Some people are afraid that if we list all game elements to pick and choose from, we'd end up with stale mass produced games. This is NOT true, please don't be mislead by this thought. Not only does that thought not prevent stale badly made mass produced games to begin with, but like many other structured artistic works (TV, Literature, and the like) games can benefit from a defined lexicon of elements (Patterns in this book). Recognizing the things that games share in common with each other can help you to find what it is that makes a game unique.
Like literature, everything under the sun has pretty much been done already in games. While there are some elements that have yet to be discovered in games, no matter what communication between Designer and Player still requires familiar elements to encourage play and game mastery. Because of this, there will likely be no completely contrary game. A game that is completely different from all other games (I mean shares NO elements in common with any other game), is likely to be a bad one. Just like a movie that shared no elements in common with all other movies would likely be unsuccessful.
Simply because these elements exist and are strictly defined does not require you to follow them strictly, the point is to use the pattern as a starting point to adapt, combine and create using the components given to you, much like programming you can use these abstract tools to create things of great complexity. The elements in the book are described thoroughly and give links to other elements that are related as well as problems and rewards that may arise with using the element. This is essential to understanding that design choices in gaming usually have inherent positives and drawbacks.
In conclusion, this book provides an excellent resource to the abstract art that is Game Design [...]. As someone who has used this method to analyze a particularly difficult to categorize game, I found the experience very rewarding, because I better understood the effect that each pattern gave to the game as a whole. There is one negative however, this book is a little old and new elements need to be added, but it can't go anywhere if the only reviews on it represent a mistake in purchase.
PS. My Game Design teacher at Digipen recommended that a good exercise for Game Designers would be to pick element patterns at random and try to make a good game out of that (remember you can adapt the patterns, they are only a start).
5.0 out of 5 starsGreat reference, not at all about programming
March 27, 2012 - Published on Amazon.com
This is a great reference book as long as you know what you are getting. As others have noted, this book has nothing to do with programming and is as dry as an encyclopedia. I'm still glad I have it, as I can't think of another book like it.
This book is about game design, which is a separate field from programming. It is about mechanics, dilemmas, feedback loops, rewards, goals, metagames, etc. It covers how time limits change gameplay, the consequences of imperfect information, what things can lead to player alliances, and so on. It won't help you write code, but it should help you understand how the different elements of a game work together to make it fun.
This is a reference book and is written in an academic style so it is dry. I can't imagine reading it straight through. Most of the patterns are heavily cross-referenced to other patterns. In fact, many of the patterns are defined in terms of other patterns so it takes a lot of flipping back and forth to understand the meaning. Fortunately, it comes with a CDROM including all the patterns in the book, plus some extras that aren't printed in the book, in nicely hyperlinked HTML. I've spent hours clicking through the patterns, like wandering around wikipedia.
As far as I know, there isn't another book like this on the market. Books like Challenges for Game Designers and Game Design Workshop cover similar concepts, but neither of those attempt to be a complete reference like this does.