There have been a lot of books over the years that have refined my thinking on games for the better. Forcing me to question and reevaluate what I believe to be true. Oddly these book are often not written about games at all, but on a whole range of topics. Here are some of my favorites.
Note: Hit the cover or title for links to Amazon UK, alternative US links at the bottom of descriptions.
Free by Chris Anderson
This is by and far the best book written on the fundamental differences between digital (bits) and physical (atoms) economies and applies to any business operating on the internet today, especially games. Written concisely and remaining compelling throughout this book discusses research, such as the mental transaction cost (aka the penny gap), plus Anderson’s own theories and real world examples.
Marketing Warfare by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Whilst using Sun Tzu’s the Art of War as an allegory is somewhat trite today, Ries and Trout’s book uses the concept of positioning your product or business as either defensive, offensive, flanking or guerrilla is inspired. This book explains so well where the games industry is today with big incumbent companies losing their grasp on the industry to small, fast growing start-ups.
Rework by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson
From the founders of 37signals (creators of Basecamp) Rework looks at how to approach working in a world where communication is ubiquitous, ideas are cheap and quick to test, corporates are slow and ineffective and the right kind of start up is nimble, cheap and efficient. This book, whilst ostensibly how to run 37signals, is actually a book on how to be that right kind of start up with such advice as “ASAP is poison” and how “drug dealers get it right”. Light and easy to read, you’ll breathe it in over a weekend.
High Score! The Illustrated History of Videogames by Rusel Demaria & Johnny L Wilson
If there’s one thing that is certain about the business of games, it’s that it’s always changing and it’s easy to be complacent. Demaria and Wilson provides a nostalgia fill, yet comprehensive and well researched, coffee table book on the history of games starting with the PDP-1 and going up to early 2000’s that acts as incredible inspiration.
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J Dubner
Freakonomics is a book of stories about stories. Or more precisely dispelling lies and misconceptions of events with data and economic theory using fun and shocking case studies. Without being a text book it certainly outlines a correct and reasonable approach to discovering causation, which is an essential part of analytics.