The Game Design Reader

The Game Design Reader is the follow-up to Rules of Play. It is an anthology of readings about the design and culture of games that I co-edited with Katie Salen.

We wanted to create a book that included a very wide range of both foundational and lesser-known writings on games. The Game Design Reader has selections from the earliest scholarly writings on games, including chapters from key books like Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and Caillois’ Man, Play, and Games, and moves through important essays on games and folklore from Brian Sutton-Smith and Linda Hughes. Contemporary scholars of play like James Gee and Henry Jenkins are also represented.

Much of the book consists of writings from game designers like Richard Garfield, Bernie DeKoven, and Greg Costikyan that explore the theory and practice of game design. Every game design education should include seminal design essays like Richard Bartle’s Player that Suit MUDs and Doug Church’s Formal Abstract Design Tools. Some of the best of games journalism is included as well, from writers like Tom Chick and Ian Shanahan.

Katie and I wrote a series of short essays for the book that help organize the many readings in different ways, emphasizing topics like game spaces, game communities, and the game design process. Each topic essay includes a curated selection of readings from the anthology and suggests further outside readings as well. Game design icons Brenda Laurel and Warren Spector also contributed original essays that begin and end the book.

Huge thanks to my tireless and insightful co-editor Katie, who is also responsible for the book’s lovely graphic design. Thanks also to our editor Doug Sery at MIT Press and all of our contributors. The Game Design Reader is available in paper and digital formats.

Order the book at MIT Press
Order the book at



Game design anthology co-edited with Katie Salen, MIT Press 2006


An edited collection of classical and contemporary readings about game design and game culture