For students it can be hard to find the best information relating to the art of game design.
Even someone who considers themselves a master of game creation can benefit from learning more about game design every now and then.
Blogs and niche websites offer a unique way of gaining insight into the process of game design and into the industry.
People write about their experiences, successes, and failures.
This top ten includes everything from learning resources to web series, each tackling an element of game design or the process of design itself.
There is a lot to be learned out there, and learning does not stop when you leave college or your training – good game designers are learning right up until they retire!
These resources are a fun and factual way to increase your knowledge about game design.
The Top Video Game Design Blogs
1. Extra Credits
Popular post: Humane Design
Summary: Extra Credits is a web series, providing short (~5 minute) animated videos explaining and exploring different elements of game design and considerations for designers.
Occasionally this takes the form of reviews, where advice to designers is provided in the context of a review of an existing game, but mostly they provide an exploration of game design elements without review or gaming context.
It is written by two industry professionals and animated by a third. They also offer personalised advice if you get in touch with them.
Popular post: Gamers Don’t have to Be Your Audience
Summary: Gamasutra is a collection of blogs written by industry professionals on all areas of game design; from art to marketing, they’ve got a specialist in the area you’re struggling with.
Focusing on an editorial style, most of their articles are opinion pieces rather than exploratory or thought-provoking about the process of design. It is an excellent resource of free advice for the aspiring game designer, and even includes a careers section.
3. Designer Notes
Popular post: Fear and Loathing in Farmville
Summary: Designer Notes, by Soren Johnson, is a blog about the ups and downs of being a designer, as well as featuring a lot of extra content such as interviews.
Soren has worked on projects like Civilization 3, so knows a lot about the game design industry. His interviews are sharp and informative, and his content is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what it’s like to be a game designer.
4. Game Design Advance
Popular post: Another Castle Podcast
Summary: Game Design Advance is a bucketload of resources in one – podcasts, reviews, and analysis of game design can all be found at this cornucopia of information for the budding game designer.
If you’re more into listening than reading, the podcasts offer insight in short bursts, whereas the blog posts provide deeper analysis. The 300 word reviews are a popular feature, packing a punch in such a short space!
5. Game Design Aspect
Popular post: Risk vs Reward
Summary: Another plethora of analysis and insight await you at the Game Design Aspect.
Written for the more interested audience, the vocabulary errs on the pretentious and the sentences get a little long. But it’s still an excellent resource and updates regularly with insightful new posts about game design, story, and the craft of making games.
A must-read for the more advanced developer and those wishing to improve their skills.
6. A Series of Interesting Choices
Popular post: 7 Pillars of Drafting Based Games
Summary: Titled after the famous Sid Meier quote, A Series of Interesting Choices is a blog about the mechanics of game design.
With a narrow but deep kind of focus, Interesting Choices is the go-to for in-depth talk about the design of mechanics. Less of the artsy, high-level analysis, more of the nitty-gritty how-it-works.
7. Theory and Principles of Game Design
Popular post: Don’t think “random”, think “statistics”
Summary: No longer regularly updating, but still an invaluable resource, Theory and Principles is another high-quality blog about the mechanics of design.
About more than just game mechanics, this blog also covers things like the importance of camera angle. The whole thing is a must-read resource for designers and developers on their own, as it provides all the help of a consultant without the cost!
8. Critical Gaming – Game Design 101
Popular post: ON GAME DESIGN DISCUSSIONS
Summary: Critical Gaming’s Game Design 101 provides everything you need to know about game design – from talking about it, to actually doing it.
This self-contained course aims to teach the fundamentals of design to hobbyists and budding professionals alike, without the cost associated with formal education. A must if you’re just starting out!
9. 3 Minute Game Design
Popular post: (linked to Episode One above)
Summary: A Youtube series, rather than a traditional blog, 3 Minute Game Design is perfect for those of us with a limited attention span (or those of us who prefer to listen over read).
He has a pleasant voice and a sharp insight, always explaining things carefully so as not to leave anyone behind (yet he has a knack for making people feel smart, too). Again, another must for those of us just starting out.
10. Teaching Game Design
Popular post: My Problem With Gamification
Summary: More of a resource for those who actually teach game design, I include this blog in the list because sometimes its useful to see things from the other side; in this case, seeing material you might be learning from the side of the teacher, rather than the side of the student.
It includes a lot of information, if you shift through all the stuff about teaching, on game design and topics such as gamification. Good for the more advanced student, or someone moving into teaching game design.
More fun gaming blogs…
Michael Abbott helms one of the more exciting video game blogs, Brainy Gamer. Designer Michael Abbott has created a fascinating little game design haven for those who are interested in hearing news, thoughts, and other aspects of design and the state of video gaming. He has a brilliant view of gaming, as well as a podcast you can listen in on.
I don’t know about you, but I love listening to podcasts while doing other things, so this is the perfect formula for me. Podcast about gaming while I should be working. Count me in.
This blog was created by a (I swear), former Navy Cryptologic Officer. Color me interested!
He has since shifted from his governmental work into indie gaming. He offers a ton of info on game development, as well as critical tips for creating and playing different strategy games. Who would have thought that the Navy produced guys that would develop helpful video game blogs?!
Being a strategy gaming buff myself, I can’t help but be drawn to this guy and his blog for his backstory, if nothing else!
For those designers who are focused on art, this is the blog for you. Jon Jones is a self-proclaimed tech geek who cut his teeth in the video game business by creating art within the industry. However, he doesn’t only focus on technique. He gives his thoughts on the state of the industry, his updates, and game designing tips.
Along with this new information, he often gives crucial portfolio-building advice for artists and designers who are just starting or attempting to join the business of game design.
Like many great gaming blogs, this one created by veteran game designer Daniel Cook, Chief Creative Officer at Spry Fox. This simplistic but valuable blog includes insights into the industry from Cook, as well as his plethora of tips, strategies, and invaluable experience at companies like Microsoft and Epic games throughout his 25+ year career.
Video game bloggers like him are sporadic.
Planet Romero—Icon of Sin
We all know and love John Romero: developer on Doom, Deus Ex, and…er, Daikatana? Okay, scratch that last one.
Anyway, John Romero, the legendary designer, now runs one of the coolest video game blogs, called Icon of Sin. Despite Romero’s turbulent late 1990s output, he’s back and has his ear to the ground within the industry, he shares valuable updates to his projects, as well as giving his thoughts on games. He often promotes his new project, called SIGIL.
SIGIL is a patch WAD, (Where’s All the Data? In DOOM-speak), which 18 new maps and nine single-player levels are included. He’s back to his roots, modding and adding on to one of the most iconic projects that made his a household name in gaming.
I love Romero’s valuable takes on games, and I’m glad he counts himself in the population of cool video game bloggers.
When researching this list, I was struck by the complete lack of active game design blogs.
It’s not that people are no longer designing games, I feel, but a lack of willingness to share information about those games.
We need to up the transparency in our industry if we’re to succeed together, so if you’re inspired to start a game design blog and have something to say, then do it!
We’re cheering you on!