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Somebody at work asked me today for a list of good book recommendations for game designers, so I figured I’d put the list here to help as many people as possible. All of these books have taught me important things about design or have helped my work even though they’re not directly about games development.
Creativity and Innovation
- A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech: a classic book on how to be more creative
- The Art of Innovation by Tom Kelley: How IDEO, a leading industrial design firm, keeps innovative and creative
- Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering by Robert L. Glass: Quick overviews of lots of interesting topics on software development — nothing really in-depth, but you’ll get a lot of information in few pages
- Peopleware by Tom DeMarco and Timethy Lister: A classic on project management. The only management book I’ve read 3 times — it’s that good.
- Patton on Leadership by Alan Axelrod: Leadership methods based on General Patton’s approach to leading his troops
- The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman: Essential tips on creating interfaces that are easy to use
- Emotional Design by Donad A. Norman: Going beyond interfaces that are easy to use, how do you make people have an emotional reaction to your design?
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk jr. and E.B. White: A small book with a ton of tips on improving your writing.
- Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger: How to create believable and interesting characters for any kind of fiction.
- Story by Robert McKee: Learn how to be a great screenwriter
- Presenting to Win by Jerry Weissman: How to make great presentations. A must-read for anyone presenting at GDC.
- How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie: It’s a classic for a reason. It does what it says on the tin.
- Made to Stick by Chip Heath & Dan Heath: Learn what makes ideas stick in people’s mind.
- Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout: Essentials of modern marketing
- The Anatomy of Buzz by Emanuel Rosen: How to create word-of-mouth marketing
- The Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell: More on word-of-mouth marketing and the effect of social networks on the popularity and impact of things.