Readings and Videos

Although the focus in video game design & development tends to be on programming, parallel reading is strongly encouraged. Why you may ask? Because reading exposes us to other ideas, and can often serve to inspire our thoughts and our actions. We'll be reading articles from game designers who are in the industry. We will also be reading a couple of science fiction books that have a direct connection to gamers. And heck, Sci-Fi is just plain fun!

But it's not all reading! We have a ton of videos we've collected that talk about games, game design and what it means to you.

The Secrets Of Enemy AI In Uncharted 2, by Benson Russell

"In latest installment of his series on the combat design of Uncharted 2, Naughty Dog combat designer Benson Russell delves into the techniques the studio devised for its combat AI, and how those evolved from the original game in the series. Part I discusses how the team evolved the combat design from the original Uncharted, and Part II takes a look at combat encounter design."

How Videogames Blind Us With Science, Clive Thompson from Wired magazine

Quick and Dirty Prototyping: A Success Story, Paraluman Cruz for Gamasutra

Targeted Focus, Broad Audience?, Paul Hyman for Gamasutra

Conflicting Views: Designing Multiplayer in Children's Games, Stephan Frost for Gamasutra

"WayForward designer Stephan Frost combines experience and literature to delineate two schools of thought on how children's games handle multiplayer, and on approaching a young audience for testing and implementation of design ideas."

"In this Gamasutra design feature, original Lara Croft/Tomb Raider creator Toby Gard here outlines a process for designing action/adventure gameplay that will satisfy the needs of both your player and your game's story."

Action Adventure Level Design, part 2: Kung Fu Zombie Killer, Toby Gard for Gamasutra


This is the second part of a three-part series of articles by veteran designer and Lara Croft/Tomb Raider creator Toby Gard, dealing with level design in action adventure games. Part 1 described Level Flow Diagrams, which act as the core of the level brief provided to a team by the leads. Part 2 describes a process of expanding that brief into a detailed level plan of the awesomely named Kung Fu Zombie Killer."

Action Adventure Level Design, part 3: Pacing, Content and Mood, Toby Gard for Gamasutra


In the third installment of his Action Adventure Level Design series, Lara Croft creator Toby Gard examines how the design process should incorporate discussions of pacing, structure, and mood -- and how leads can hone their feedback to the team to make it all work. Part 1 described how to create a Level Flow Plan to hand off to the level team. Part 2 described a variety of tools to help turn those Level Flows into detailed, immersive and interesting levels plans."

Ethics 101: Designing Morality in Games, J. Matthew Zoss for Gamasutra

"Gamasutra interviews Bethesda's Emil Pagliarulo and 2K Marin's Jordan Thomas to discuss the importance of building challenging, satisfying ethical gameplay -- both in games the duo created such as Oblivion, Fallout 3 and BioShock 2, and in the work of others."

Center of Mass: Tools and Techniques for Animating Natural Human Movement, Eiko Oba for Gamasutra

"In this Game Developer magazine reprint, a gymnast and UFC mixed martial art game developer dives into how the center of mass of a character is the basis for all realistic motion -- and delivers the technical know-how to achieve it."

The Sensible Side of Immersion, Neils Clark for Gamasutra

"In this in-depth analysis, Neils Clark examines the intimate bond between psychology and play, and how games might tap into the recesses of the ancient human brain in order to reach new levels of immersion."

Jumpstarting Your Creativity, Brad Meyer for Gamasutra


Experienced sound designer Brad Meyer (DJ Hero) espouses a creative philosophy of taking a step back and making common sense decisions as the best method for reinvigorating that elusive creative spark once it's fled."

Truth in Game Design, Scott Brodie for Gamasutra

"What does "truth in game design" mean? Microsoft Game Studios producer/designer Scott Brodie explores the nature and implications of how truth can be created and communicated in game design, via several case studies."

Making Better Games Through Iteration, Will Luton for Gamasutra

The Birth of Collecting: The Osiris Archetype in Video Games, Jason Johnson for Gamasutra

Game Artists: The Three Cardinal Rules, Keith Self Ballard for Gamasutra

"What guidelines do video game artists need to follow to succeed? Volition manager Self-Ballard draws from his experience to suggest three key traits of the best game art creators."

Dungeons & Dragons: The Pen & Paper Video Game, Alvan Monje for Gamasutra

"In a fitting tribute to late Dungeons & Dragons co-creator Gary Gygax, Volition designer Monje examines Gygax's massive legacy, suggesting that D&D was 'the progenitor of most contemporary video games, irrespective of genre.'"

The Designer's Notebook: Sandbox Storytelling, Ernest Adams for Gamasutra

"...instead of trying to tell stories, we should build worlds in which stories can happen -- worlds in which players live a story of their own creation."


Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" (Lexile 780, 4th-5th grade) is an interesting story in itself. When you stop and think about the use of video games and deception as training tools, it takes on a whole new meaning in regards to ethics and values as they apply to video games, their development and application.

If you like this story then you definitely need to check out Ender's Shadow. It's a parallel story told from the point of view of Bean. The last few chapters tie into the ethical dilemma in the final battle simulation that we will talk about in class. Even though it is fifth in the series, I recommend reading it right after Ender's Game as the other books in the series are more about what happens to Ender after the war with the Buggers.

Little Brother

Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" (Lexile 900L, 5th-6th grade) is an exploration of freedom versus societal expectation which explores the relationship between ethics, morals, values and personal choice.

For The Win

In "For The Win" (Lexile 1070L, 11th grade+), Cory Doctorow's makes us think about video games not as playthings but as breeding grounds for revolution, freedom and control. Great discussion points for economics, civil rights, values and choice.


Check out this video on a student-led high school video game program.


  • STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics): The four academic disciplines considered the core technological underpinnings of an advanced society, according to the National Research Council and the National Science Foundation.
  • Game Maker: A software application that allows its users to easily develop computer games without having to learn a complex programming language.


Discussion Questions

  1. What do you think of the game-design work at McKinley? What would it take to start a similar program in your community?
  2. What is the value of having mentors help students design games? How would you find similar mentors in your community?
  3. Is game design a valid educational pursuit? Why, or why not?
  4. What do you think of the Technology Bus? Is this a good way to help students learn STEM subjects?