Fundamentals of Game Design


Phone: +44-7780-660753

Facebook: Ernest W. Adams

Twitter: @ErnestWAdams

G+: Ernest Adams


Read my books!

Fundamentals tiny shadow
Break Into tiny shadow


This book has now been superseded by a newer edition. Read about it here.

Fundamentals cover medium

What Was Added To Rollings & Adams

  • Four more chapters plus a new appendix.
  • Extensive additions to the material on character development, storytelling, core mechanics, and user interface design.
  • Every chapter revised and expanded to take into account recent developments.
  • New exercises and multiple choice questions in addition to the design worksheets from before.
  • A Companion Website with student and instructor resources, plus extra material that didn't fit into the printed book. No longer available.

Online chapters: Ch 21  Ch 22  Appendix

About the Book

Fundamentals has been adopted at:

  • MIT
  • Georgia Tech
  • Cornell University
  • University of Illinois at
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Uppsala, Sweden
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • University of New Mexico,
    Los Alamos
  • Northwestern University
    [recommended, not required]
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  • George Brown College, Toronto
  • University of Ulster Magee,
    Northern Ireland
  • University of New South Wales, Australia
  • Monash University, Australia
  • DeVry University
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of
  • College of DuPage
  • Lawrence Technological University
  • Santa Monica College
  • Central Piedmont Community College
  • Wake Technical Community College

... and probably more that I don't know about!

Three years after the publication of Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design (and six years after first we started writing that book), it's time for another edition. But this version contains so much new material that Prentice-Hall gave it a new title as well, Fundamentals of Game Design. The earlier book caught on as a textbook, and we have added more features to help instructors and students. It now has multiple choice questions and exercises at the end of every chapter. We've also kept the worksheets of questions to ask yourself about your design, which were a popular feature of the older work. In fact, we put in so much new stuff that we had to move two of the chapters from the old book (Online Games and The Future of Gaming) onto the new Companion Website at Prentice-Hall.

Fundamentals is more rigorous than Rollings and Adams was, and more comprehensive. It now includes more formal definitions of such important concepts as gameplay, core mechanics, interaction models, and the storytelling engine. We have also increased our emphasis on design process, with more how-to information than the earlier book had. We've written four new chapters, a glossary, and an appendix, and expanded our discussion in a number of places.

The New Chapters

    Design Components and Processes. We break the game into key components, and propose a process for doing game design based on current industry practice.

    Creative and Expressive Play. The previous book only touched upon these important aspects of video gaming in the context of other things. We now give them a chapter to themselves.

    Core Mechanics. In Rollings and Adams we had one chapter on mechanics, called The Internal Economy of Games and Game Balancing. We've split it into two: one called Core Mechanics and one called Game Balancing. This time we go into much more detail about what mechanics are and how to design them. The balancing chapter is also longer.

    General Principles of Level Design. This was an area that we just didn't have time to address in the previous book. Level design is a critically important part of the job, and though we can't cover everything, we now provide a solid grounding in the basics.

    Appendix: Designing to Appeal to Particular Groups. We added this to cover a number of issues that designers ought to know about choosing a target audience: men and women, adults and children, girls and boys, and how to make your game more accessible to people with impairments of various kinds.