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The Game Inventor's Guidebook

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The Game Inventor's Guidebook According to its subtitle, The Game Inventor's Guidebook covers: "How to Invent and Sell Board Games, Card Games, Role-player Games, and Everything in Between!" In other words, the book covers the modern, *non*-computer game industry. The book opens with short descriptions of some of the success stories of the past couple decades:
  • Trivial Pursuit
  • Magic: the Gathering
  • Dungeons & Dragons
  • The Pokemon Trading Card Game
If you're not familiar with the stories behind these games, they make very interesting reading, especially for indies. With the exception of the Pokemon TCG, these are stories of dedicated individuals pursuing a dream and not giving up when things get tough. After that, the book describes how the game publishing industry works, and provides summaries of the companies and games that a would-be "game inventor" should be aware of. More useful than the birds-eye view of how the industry works are the frequent interviews with publishers and game designers. These are probably the best part of the book. Such modern "name" game designers like Reiner Knizia (Lord of the Rings, Tigris & Euphrates & many, many more), Brian Hersch (Outburst, Taboo), Mike Fitzgerald (Mystery Rummy, Wyvern), and more, discuss how they got started and how they approach game design. Equally informative were the interviews with publishers such as Mike Gray of Hasbro, Peggy Brown of Patch, Mike Osterhaus of Out of the Box, and others. Because of the costs associated with games of this nature, the book several times cautions against self-publishing your game ideas, recommending that the would-be game inventor go through a publisher. Despite this advice, the book also points out that such major successes as Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, and even the perennial Monopoly were created and made successful by determined self-publishers before a major publishing company picked them up. The book does provide 4 chapters discussing what's involved with self-publishing games. Like most of the book, though, the chapters are at a very high level, providing more of a broadbrush overview than details. Still, the chapters cover the topic quite well. One point that the book stresses over and over is that all game design should begin by first deciding on your audience. If you don't care about the marketability of your game, then you can start where you wish and enjoy creating and playing your game. But if you want to appeal to a segment of the population bigger than "You and People Just Like You", you have to pick who you want to appeal to. Once you know who you're making the game for, you can adjust and refine to better appeal to those people. All in all, The Game Inventor's Guidebook provides an entertaining and educational look at the non-computer game industry and its current markets. If you are serious about game design, and want to learn about all aspects of game design, and not just within the computer industry, this book provides a good place to start. The Game Inventor's Guidebook Krause Publications; 2002; ISBN: 0873495527 -David DavidRM
Samu Games
[edited by - DavidRM on March 16, 2003 12:23:29 PM]

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