Top 3 go-to books for gamification and game design

On the occasion of world book day, I thought it would be fun to share my top 3 books which I keep going back to for gamification and serious game design. In fact, there are probably 4, so you will have one top bonus book.

I read a lot and have done so since I was a young girl. On average I would read about 20 to 30 books per year and at a bare minimum one a month. I read for fun and out of curiosity and to keep improving things. One of my favourite inspirational speakers said that ‘Readers are leaders’ and I still stick by that. For me, it is a form of relaxation and I have always had a high sense of curiosity and books tend to satisfy that for me. I also love games and usually really want to switch off when I play games or they are my second screen when the TV is on.

The selection of books I have here are my go-to reference books, I keep dipping in and out of them for things we are working on or when I just need inspiration:

1.The Gamification of learning and instruction fieldbook by Karl Kapp

We work a lot on learning-related gamification project or serious games for learning and I keep dipping back into the book for relevant hints. I am not a big theory person, which I think I prefered the more practically oriented focus of the fieldbook. I often refer clients to buy a copy or we reference some of the exercises in it to justify why we chose a specific path in our designs.

2. Game Design Secrets by Wagner James Au

This book I refer to a when I am struggling with something and I wonder what others in game design would do. I originally bought it with the view that if I ever have a game for entertainment that I would like to launch then this book contains a lot of solid tips on how to launch it especially through social media. Out of the top three this one, I am consulting less and less and maybe it is because some of the messages have been integrated already. I would still recommend it to game designers both those that make serious games and those that make games for entertainment. It is good to learn from a variety of perspectives.

3. Video Game Design – principles and practices from the ground up by Michael Salmond

This book is my current go-to for dipping into ideas about the various elements in game design. One day it might character design, another day emotional triggers, another environments etc. The book covers a massive amount of ground and for me it serves as a way of idea generation or picking up the odd new item. I have never read the book back to back, because it isn’t that kind of book. I feel it is one to be consulted when relevant.

Bonus book: The book of lenses by Jesse Schell and the adjoining card deck The Deck of lenses

I like this one because again it covers all aspects of game design. I flick through the deck of lenses probably more than the actual book. I have the mobile deck on my phone and often use it at the ideation stage of a project or when we are specifically working on something. Like for example, we are having some discussion around narrative and scoring for a project and on the way to the meeting flicking through some of the cards on the phone triggers discussion points I would have overlooked.

There are many great authors and books on the market around game design and a few gems in gamification, this list is my top reference and consult regularly list. If it was a list for a different purpose I would have chosen different titles.

I would love to know your go-to book list in the comments.



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