I’ve recently read and re-read The Ultimate Guide to Video Game Writing and Design, by Flint Dille and John Zuur Platten, and I must say, how wrong can a guy be?

I’d seen the book several times while reading amazon.com’s selection of books on game design, and the cynic in me said the exact same thing every time I read the title: “Yeah, right, it’s probably another compilation of the history of videogames under another name…”. So I passed it up in favour of other books that I’d seen recommended on other people’s blogs.

And then, a couple of weeks after my birthday, my wonder of a wife surprises me with an amazon.com box. Opening it, I see the very same book I have almost scoffed at in contempt so many times before (I am a very cynical man sometimes, my wife can attest to that from countless hours watching prime time TV commercials with me). I thanked her for the thought – it’s not the first time she’s bought me a book on game design – and told myself that, since I had received it in good faith, I should put my cynicism aside and give it an honest chance. So I did. And I was surprised.

I’m not a book critic, so I’ll just say that the book is a very good read, and highly recommendable for numerous reasons, chief among them the emphasis on WRITING for videogames – from story, to characters, to documentation, the book covers a lot of subjects that any aspiring game writer or designer should be familiar with, including things not usually discussed in pure game design books like developing an IP, working with and as part of a team, and more. Of particular interest are the assorted exercises the book encourages the reader to undertake – from playing a game and writing about the experience to writing a full-fledged design document by putting everything learned in the book to good use.

So that’s what I’m doing for the next few days, writing a design document for one of the game ideas I had. It’s fun so far. We’ll see if it stays that way throughout.