The Stuff Games Are Made Of
184 pp., 5 x 8 in, 52 b&w illus.
- Published: August 1, 2023
- Publisher: The MIT Press
A deep dive into practical game design through playful philosophy and philosophical play.
What are video games made of? And what can that tell us about what they mean? In The Stuff Games Are Made Of, experimental game maker Pippin Barr explores the materials of video game design. Taking the reader on a deep dive into eight case studies of his own games, Barr illuminates the complex nature of video games and video game design, and the possibilities both offer for exploring ideas big and small.
Through a variety of engaging and approachable examples, Barr shows how every single aspect of a game—whether it is code, graphics, interface, or even time itself—can be designed with and related to the player experience. Barr's experimental approach, with its emphasis on highly specific elements of games, will leave readers armed with intriguing design philosophy, conceptual rigor, and diverse insights into the inner life of video games. Upon finishing this book, readers will be ready to think deeply about the nature of games, to dive into expressive and experimental game design themselves, or simply to play with a new and expanded mindset.
“If you love Pippin Barr's weird, delightful games as much as I do, imagine picking them up, like rocks in a garden, and discovering whole ecosystems of bugs and aliens had been living underneath. Reading this book is picking up those rocks.”
Ian Bogost, author of Play Anything and How to Talk About Videogames
“Feels like walking along a beach at sunset with a perceptive friend, if the beach is digital computer code & data, the sunset is playful curiosity, and the friend is one of games' greatest tinkerer-thinkers.”
Rami Ismail, Game Developer & Games Industry Ambassador
“Of all the books that have made me think deeply about games and design, this is my favorite. It's winningly personal while inviting you to join in genuinely new philosophies of play and being. Don't miss it!”
Tanya X. Short, Creative Director, Kitfox Games; Co-editor of Procedural Generation in Game Design and Procedural Storytelling in Game Design