Rules of Play

Game Design Fundamentals

by Katie Salen Tekinbaş and Eric Zimmerman

ISBN: 9780262315531 | Copyright 2003

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As pop culture, games are as important as film or television—but game design has yet to develop a theoretical framework or critical vocabulary. In Rules of Play Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman present a much-needed primer for this emerging field. They offer a unified model for looking at all kinds of games, from board games and sports to computer and video games. As active participants in game culture, the authors have written Rules of Play as a catalyst for innovation, filled with new concepts, strategies, and methodologies for creating and understanding games. Building an aesthetics of interactive systems, Salen and Zimmerman define core concepts like "play," "design," and "interactivity." They look at games through a series of eighteen "game design schemas," or conceptual frameworks, including games as systems of emergence and information, as contexts for social play, as a storytelling medium, and as sites of cultural resistance.

Written for game scholars, game developers, and interactive designers, Rules of Play is a textbook, reference book, and theoretical guide. It is the first comprehensive attempt to establish a solid theoretical framework for the emerging discipline of game design.

A refreshingly new way of looking at computer systems as a whole by considering all aspects of a complete system in an integrated manner.

Jonathan Bowen Times Higher Education Supplement
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Contents (pg. vi)
Foreword (pg. ix)
Preface (pg. xiii)
1 About This Book (pg. 1)
2 The Design Process (pg. 11)
Commissioned Essay (pg. 22)
I Core Concepts (pg. 28)
3 Meaningful Play (pg. 31)
4 Design (pg. 39)
5 Systems (pg. 49)
6 Interactivity (pg. 57)
7 Defining Games (pg. 71)
8 Defining Digital Games (pg. 85)
9 The Magic Circle (pg. 93)
10 The Primary Schemas (pg. 101)
Commissioned Game 1 (pg. 106)
II Rules (pg. 116)
11 Defining Rules (pg. 119)
12 Rules on Three Levels (pg. 127)
13 The Rules of Digital Games (pg. 141)
14 Games as Emergent Systems (pg. 151)
15 Games as Systems of Uncertainty (pg. 173)
16 Games as Information Theory Systems (pg. 191)
17 Games as Systems of Information (pg. 203)
18 Games as Cybernetic Systems (pg. 213)
19 Games as Game Theory Systems (pg. 231)
20 Games as Systems of Conflict (pg. 249)
21 Breaking the Rules (pg. 267)
Commissioned Game 2 (pg. 286)
III Play (pg. 298)
22 Defining Play (pg. 301)
23 Games as the Play of Experience (pg. 313)
24 Games as the Play of Pleasure (pg. 329)
25 Games as the Play of Meaning (pg. 363)
26 Games as Narrative Play (pg. 377)
27 Games as the Play of Simulation (pg. 421)
28 Games as Social Play (pg. 461)
Commissioned Game 3 (pg. 490)
IV Culture (pg. 502)
29 Defining Culture (pg. 505)
30 Games as Cultural Rhetoric (pg. 515)
31 Games as Open Culture (pg. 537)
32 Games as Cultural Resistance (pg. 557)
33 Games as Cultural Environment (pg. 571)
Commissioned Game 4 (pg. 588)
Additional Reading and Resources (pg. 602)
Conclusion (pg. 604)
Bibliography (pg. 608)
List of Games Cited (pg. 620)
Index (pg. 638)

Katie Salen Tekinbaş

Katie Salen Tekinbaş is Professor in the School of Computing and Digital Media at DePaul University and Chief Designer and Researcher at Institute of Play.


Eric Zimmerman

Eric Zimmerman is a game designer, game design theorist, and co-founder and CEO of gameLab. He has taught at universities including MIT, the University of Texas, Parsons School of Design, New York University, Rhode Island School of Design, and the School of Visual Arts.


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