Here you will find my book reviews on game design.
Designing Games - A guide to Engineering Experiences
If you were to own one book on game design. I would say this one might be the one to own. This book could easily been titled: Zen and the Art Of Game Design Maintenance.
The Author put it better than I could :
The reality of games is bigger than a book or a mind. Games stretch causal threads through players’ minds and cultures, back to the history of their peoples and their species, and forward into all the lives they will affect and the future cultures that will judge them. A written model can’t encapsulate this. I haven’t even tried. Rather, I’ve attempted to create a guide to the craft that describes games in the most useful possible ways. But a guide is not the truth. It is a simple map to an astonishingly rich and diverse territory. No matter how much we learn, we shouldn’t forget that the reality is much greater.
Snippets of wisdom
Elegance happens when mechanics interact in complex, non-obvious ways. But the same complexity and non-obviousness makes elegant design very difficult to achieve.
Adaptive difficulty works best when players aren’t aware of it. Players who know about it will sometimes try to game the system. Or they’ll start attributing every random event to it and become convinced that their play experience is artificial.
Games are mental models for pieces of life.
A game is not a chain of events like a story. It’s a system. It crystallizes some part of the world into a set of mechanics and packages them up for us to play with. Instead of just showing us one thread of events the way a story does, it allows us to experience that piece of the world, again and again in a hundred variations. And that exploratory interaction teaches in ways that stories cannot.