5 Great Holiday Reads to Give You More Insight into Game Dev

Everyone in the Lumi team loves reading. There is a wealth of books about games (fiction, non-fiction, and otherwise) that range from great to meh, so we put together a list of ones we think anyone can enjoy and learn from.

These are perfect gift ideas for the game nerds in your life, as well as something to read on flights, and even as texts to supplements your study. They’re all fun, relatively easy to read and full of insights across many diverse areas in game development and wider game culture.

Rise of the Videogame Zinesters: How Freaks, Normals, Amateurs, Artists, Dreamers, Drop-outs, Queers, Housewives, and People Like You Are Taking Back an Art Form

Anna Anthropy

This book hit my brain like a comet. Part essay, part manifesto, part resource list, this work outlines how the democratisation of game-making tools and engines has blown the field wide open to underrepresented creators. Full of examples of the value we get an an industry when diverse creators pick up tools and create personal, “imperfect”, messy, and powerful works, it’s a very short and energising read. It’s especially impactful for anyone who, like me, doubted what they could bring to medium.

The Game Narrative Toolbox

Tobias Heussner, Toiya Kristen Finley, Jennifer Brandes Hepler, and Ann Lemay

It’s a textbook! This is the most expensive book on the list, but designed and written for learning outcomes around narrative design, writing, world-building and more. It’s full of professional insights and structured advice from four experienced narrative designers, so if you have an interest in storytelling through games then this text is for you. I especially appreciated examples of common misconceptions about the role of “game writer”, showing how challenging, collaborative, and iterative their work really is. Useful for anyone from indie to AAA, both writers and non-writers.

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate

Zoe Quinn

Through sharing her story as a target and activist, Quinn amazes and galvanises me to keep being myself, openly. This book is an incredibly valuable look into how the internet impacts our life and culture for better and for worse. It’s a semi-autobiographical, semi-anthropological look at where the GamerGate hate movement came from, how it was used for the wider global swing to conservatism, and how we can dismantle it. Truly excellent. To supplement this text, I also recommend reading Game Changers by Leena van Deventer and Dan Golding.

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture

David Kushner

I’m not a Doom or Quake super-fan, but this inside story of game legends John Carmack and John Romero is fascinating. It touches on 1990s game creator culture, the ongoing impact of violent shooters being among the first and most significant successful games, auteur-led crunch culture, issues with homogenous teams, courting controversy—there’s so much here. Extremely personal, detailed and compelling.

Embed with Games: A Year on the Couch with Game Developers

Cara Ellison

Part travel diary, part anthropological study, Embed With Games is a very intimate view into the lives and philosophies of a handful of international game developers. With insights and observations on regional differences in game development ‘scenes’, Ellison shares a fascinating and challenging year as a ‘cyberpunk hair-dyed Attenborough’, travelling and staying on the couches of diverse game creators and academics.

If you have recommendations of game-related books you’ve loved, please let us know here or by tweeting at @gameconsulting!

Happy reading,

The Lumi Team <3 Written by: Lauren Clinnick Edited by: James Dominguez