Books on Game Writing and Development I Read in 2023


My full list of books I loved in 2023 includes a mix of fiction, graphic novels, and poetry. But I also spent a significant amount of time reading to help improve my craft in games writing and narrative design. Here are the books I read and loved in that regard.

Writing for Games: Theory & Practice by Hannah Nicklin is a fantastic book for anyone interested in delving into writing stories and developing narratives for games. She provides a solid theory for storytelling and story structure and explains how these basic elements fit into the development of games. Taking into account the various ways in which people learn best, Nicklin presents this information in a variety of ways, including case studies and a practical workbook with exercises designed to allow the reader to apply the knowledge they gleaned.

The Game Writing Guide: Get Your Dream Job and Keep It by Anna Megill is a wonderfully practical guide to understanding how to build and maintain a career as a writer in the games industry. Her advice — which is based off interviews that she conducted with dozens of writer mentors, as well as her own experience of writing for games such as Fable, Control, and Dishonored, among others — runs the full gamut, from job hunting, writing resumes and cover letters, building a portfolio, and interviews to moving up within the company once you have the job and leadership roles. All of this advice is delivered in simple, well-organized, and straightforward manner — with little dashes of humor sprinkled in — making the book easy to ready and follow. For those interested, I wrote up a few of the insights I learned from the book.

Tracy Fullerton’s Game Design Workshop is an excellent read for anyone looking into understanding the full scope of the game design process. The book carries the reader through every step of the process, from ideation and prototyping through to development and iteration, QA testing, and publishing. In addition, she provides exercises at the end of most sections, encouraging the reader to explore the concepts in a practical way, which simultaneously helps to build out a portfolio of work.

Another great aspect of the book is that it is peppered with personal perspectives and anecdotes from various game designers, producers, writers, and creatives who make games. They expand on some of the information that Fullerton provides and also share their journey into games, what inspires them, and how they approach problems during the development process.

Written by Mary Kenney and paired with beautiful illustrations by Salini Perera, Gamer Girls gives a look into game development history, sharing the stories of many of the women who helped shape the world of board and video games, from the early days of programming to the present day. Each short chapter tells the story of how the designer, artist, songwriter, or storyteller came to video games and the challenges they faced in creating and developing their work and careers. Very inspiring.

While not a non-fiction book, I feel like I have to include Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin — a novel that represents my personal Book of the Year. Plus, it also deals with game design in a fictional setting.

Sam Masur and Sadie Green are two friends who bonded over playing video games as kids before having a falling out. When find each other again as adults in college, they renew their friendship and love for games by entering into a wild adventure — making their own video game. The novel weaves through their game development and looks at their successes and failures (both personal and in business). The story beautifully explores the nature of creative endeavors, how money changes things, and the ups and downs of close friendships — along with love, ego, grief, and so much more.

Zevin’s writing style is delicious, causing me to often pause and go, woah. The omniscient third person perspective allows the author to float between the inner worlds of each of the characters, offering insights that they may not even recognize themselves. This is a genuinely gorgeous book,and one that I will be returning to again and again.