By Dan Carreker
Published January 2012 List Price:$49.99, Your Amazon.com Price: $44.10
Amazon.com Sales Rank:2,460,535 Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
The video game industry has evolved. What was at first hobbyists working in their spare time in school labs or converted garages has grown into veteran specialists working in high-rise offices and multimillion-dollar studios. Some of these professionals came from those early days of video game development, but many emerged from other disciplines, including traditional game design, art, software programming, film animation, screenwriting, engineering, music production, and many more. Each of them brought along their own language--a collection of terms and definitions relevant to their field--which filtered in and out of the industry as they did. Games continued to change and so did the way we talked about them. Confusion inevitably arose as each discipline had, up until then, been largely independent and therefore had its own unique vocabulary. For example, what was known as "value" by an artist would have been called "brightness" by a programmer (to whom value meant something else entirely). "Theme" had a different meaning to a game designer than it did to a writer. A common language had not, and still has not, developed; yet in order for the members of any multidisciplinary venture to communicate efficiently, it must. The Game Developer's Dictionary is the first attempt to collect the terms and phrases used within all avenues of game development, and define them, with hundreds of definitions covering game art, design, programming, production, writing, and sound. Terms are categorized alphabetically and by discipline so that entries can be accessed quickly and easily. The book emphasizes creating an understanding between the game development disciplines - great care has been exercised to define terms in ways that someone outside the related area of expertise can easily grasp. A survey of game industry job titles and their descriptions is also included.
GDNet Staff Review: In an era when the Encyclopedia Brittanica is no longer publishing encyclopedias, the concept of a paper dictionary, even a specialty one, is a tough sell. After all, it is a good bet that nothing in The Game Developer's Dictionary that isn't available on Google or Wikipedia or dictionary.com.
The book's tagline is "A Multidisciplinary Lexicon for Professionals and Students", and it is a very well-organized The terminology leans more towards the conceptual than the technical. For example, while "PERT chart" (a kind of project management organizational chart) and "Pickup Session" (an additional re-recording session) are defined, PHP (a popular server-side programming langauge) is not. Definitions are all accompanied by one or more of about a half-dozen icons showing the related concept (art, music, design, etc).
The Game Developer's Dictionary is a well-organized collection. Its value to you really depends on whether or not you need a printed-out lexicon of game development terminology. While it would likely be at home in an academic or conceptual-design setting, it is not a book that you will have on the desk next to you while you write code. So make sure you are getting this book for the proper setting.