50 Books For Everyone In the Game Industry

50 Books For Everyone In the Game Industry

Next-Gen has compiled a list of the 50 books from which everyone in the game industry could learn something. Our list covers game design theory to histories of games companies to sociological texts to novels. Compiled by game designer and author Ernest Adams…

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When the editors of edge-online.com first asked me to write this article, I was in a quandary. "Everyone in the game industry”" runs from Ken Kutaragi to part-time testers (in terms of power), and from hardcore graphics programmers to customer service agents to lawyers (in terms of the diversity of their job roles).

How in the world could I select fifty books they all should read? Which books are so universal that they would be useful to such a broad range of people?

Because I’m a game developer, I naturally gravitate towards books on development; but clearly 3DS Max tutorials and books on Java aren’t appropriate. At the same time, there are relatively few books on the shelves that teach how to create a marketing campaign for a videogame, or how to negotiate with Wal-Mart’s buyers.

In the end I decided to concentrate on the one thing that binds us all together: the games themselves. What I’ve done is to assemble a collection of books that address the following questions:


  • What are games (and videogames)?
  • What has been the history of video games?
  • How are games related to other media, and what might we learn from those media?
  • How and why do people play games? And finally, how (in general terms) should we design and build them?

I can’t claim to have read all these books, much less to own them all; but an informal survey of developers whom I respect has produced some great suggestions. I’ve organized the books roughly by topic…

The topics are…

  1. Theory
  2. Design Practice
  3. Writing
  4. Graphic Design
  5. Music / Audio
  6. Online Community
  7. The History of Games
  8. Sociology
  9. People, Projects, and Businesses
  10. Other Media and Useful Disciplines
  11. Deep Background
  12. Inspirations