Here’s a list of game design related books, and other resources I’ve enjoyed.

Books

  • A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster. Insightful read from a fantastic writer. He doesn’t explicitly talk about game design that much- mostly it’s a discussion of the nature of fun. He defines fun in a quite surprising way, but by the end of the book, I was thoroughly convinced.
  • The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. An excellent description of the responsibilities of a designer. It really changed the way I think about presentation and approach playtests- it’s much harder to blame the testers when things go wrong.
  • Challenges for Game Designers by Brenda Brathwaite and Ian Schreiber. This is mostly aimed at videogame designers, but there are some really interesting non-digital excercises between chapters that provide good inspiration.
  • Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud. Not remotely about game design, but a really good account of being a creator in a previously misunderstood and now rapidly developing field.

Podcasts

  • The Board Game Design Lab
    It’s really interesting to hear how professional designers approach their work. It covers all aspects of the industry, from designing to developing to publishing. Each week is a totally different topic, so it’s well worth working through it from the start.
  • Ludology
    Really insightful discussion on a range of topics.

Software and web services

  • Android Studio
    Really good IDE for developing Android apps. You can get things running on a device really easily, and there’s a really useful online community with examples of small features. There’s a tutorial here which can get you started.
  • Nandeck
    Excellent software for making decks of cards. I run it on a Mac using Wine- I think I was following this tutorial to set it up, and it was surprisingly painless.
  • Google Forms and Sheets
    Great for bulk testing. I just create a web form with important results, and submit the results on my phone each time I play. The data can easily be plotted in graphs, which are really helpful for tweaking and balancing.
  • WordPress
    How I built this site. Very straightforward interface, lots of cool themes to choose from.
  • Twitter
    I was really cynical about Twitter beforehand, but for game design it’s really useful. There are lots of famous designers on it, who post interesting ideas and discussions.
  • Meetup
    Mostly I use this for keeping up with Playtest UK, but there are lots of other local groups you can find here.