Books about Stories in Games?
May 12, 2014 9:20 PM   Subscribe

One of my very best friends has a birthday coming up. Over the last year he has thrown himself into game design as a hobby with his eyes on the horizon of possibly pursuing it professionally down the line. My friend is incredibly practical and intelligent so I am not so much interested in a gift that is very "how to" but instead I would love a book that looks at games on a critical level and deconstructs how they craft narrative. I've seen some questions on the green suggesting guides on a practical level and one a from a couple years ago of material that was mostly excellent blogs/posts but can anyone think of good gift books that explore ludo narrative in this way?
posted by sendai sleep master to Media & Arts (5 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Salen and Zimmerman's Rules of Play is a scholarly look at game design. It discusses narrative, although not exclusively -- it's a large and wide-ranging book. Anyone interested in critical/theoretical perspectives on games would appreciate it.

Your friend might also be interested in the work of Nick Montfort. Twisty Little Passages is specifically about interactive fiction (like, text adventures). I haven't read it, but it seems to be well-regarded and Montfort is a pretty smart/awesome guy.
posted by my favorite orange at 9:28 PM on May 12, 2014 [2 favorites]

Personally, I highly recommend The Art of Games Design by Jesse Schell as the utlimate guide to games design (but if he has been exploring this as a hobby for a while he probably already has a copy). Alongside that, I found Interactive Storytelling for Video Games by Josiah Lebowitz and Chris Klug a great companion for a more in-depth look at how stories work in games and what makes for successful narratives.
posted by iivix at 4:09 AM on May 13, 2014

Both are theory-building (in an accessible rather than academic tone) rather than just how-to guides.
posted by iivix at 4:14 AM on May 13, 2014

Half Real is about what games are (unreal spaces with real parameters) and how they work rather than about video game narrative specifically, but it's short, interesting, and the theory elements certainly impact game narrative. It's on the critical side of critical vs. practical.
posted by postcommunism at 6:25 AM on May 13, 2014

A Theory of Fun in Game Design is a very basic / meta look at what a game is, and how 'fun' is created.
posted by BrashTech at 7:12 AM on May 13, 2014

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