PhD in Video Games: My Reading List

As I’m starting to accumulate books in my physical and EndNote library, I think I might as well share my reading list here as well. If you are also doing or planning to do a PhD in Video Games, here are some books that are on my reading list and you should also check out. Also, if you have any book recommendations, please comment or tweet me @purplelilgirl, thank you.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, I earn a bit of commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Also this will be an ongoing post as I add more books to this list.

1. Making Deep Games: Designing Games with Meaning and Purpose

My PhD is about making games for mental health. There are a few new game genre or game type names for the type of games that I am making, one of them is Deep Games. Deep Games are basically games designed with meaning and purpose. This book looks into the process of making deep games, including how to dig deep and analyse different aspects of the human experience, and how to translate that into a game. Each chapter also ends with exercises that can help you make your own deep game.

2. Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers

My approach to making games for mental health is (at least what I’m proposing) is through Participatory Action Research, which is working with people with lived experience, mental health professionals and game developers in workshops and game jams. That is why I read Gamestorming, because it comes with activities that you can use to brainstorm, from generating your ideas in the opening stage to exploring to closing. You don’t have to be making a game to read Gamestorming, it can be used to generate ideas or solve problems for all sorts of things.

3. The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design

4. Design Kit Travel Pack

Continuing from Gamestorming, I also read IDEO’s Field Guide to Human-Centered Design, which is about Design Thinking. I’m tempted to buy the Design Kit Travel Pack.

5. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

6. SuperBetter: The Power of Living Gamefully

If you are making games, playing games, read these, and also watch Jane McGonigal’s TED talks.

The rest on are on my list, but I haven’t read yet.

7. The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, Third Edition

8. Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames (The MIT Press)

9. Critical Play: Radical Game Design (The MIT Press)

10. Emotions, Technology, and Digital Games (Emotions and Technology)

11. Video Games and Well-being: Press Start (Palgrave Studies in Cyberpsychology)

12. Working with Video Gamers and Games in Therapy

13. The Transformational Framework

14. Games without Frontiers: Methods for Game Studies and Design

15. Handmade Pixels: Independent Video Games and the Quest for Authenticity (The MIT Press)

16. Challenges for Games Designers: Non-Digital Exercises for Video Game Designers

17. Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Fourth Edition

18. Game Usability: Advancing the Player Experience

19. Procedural Storytelling in Game Design

20. An Introduction to Game Studies: Games in Culture

There is a games and mental health book club on Twitter:

And the first book on their list is:

21. The Gamer’s Brain: How Neuroscience and UX Can Impact Video Game Design

To be continued…

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