"Game On" by Jon Radoff

“Game On; Energize your business with social media games” http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thzopr-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0470936266&fc1=FFFBFB&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=A7A7A7&bc1=000000&bg1=060606&f=ifr
by Jon Radoff

First Impressions:
I picked up the book and flipped through the index to see what was in store for me.  I got excited about the book just reading the index.  The topics the book covers excited me because they are relevant to me.  That excitement is completely justified.  The book promises, and delivers, detailed, multi layered information about more than just game design and development.  You get some history, some theory, and a whole lot of practical ideas and suggestions about creating social games specifically, and all kinds of games generally.

For example the first chapter contains a quiz that sort the reader into one of three categories.  They indicate multiple points of view to enjoy the rest of the book from.  Then Jon explains that humans enjoy taking quizes, and enjoy sorting themselves into groups they identify with.  Brilliant.  Absolutely brilliant.  Without telling you Jon has shown you a game, which you have opted to play of your own choice.  He has facilitated you self sorting into a category which includes a cute little icon.  All of which you are happy to do.  All the while telling you that it’s ok to skip this or that part making you feel like you are completely in control of your experience through the book.  It slowly dawns on you that he has demonstrated, in the first chapter, exactly the kind of thing that he has promised in the book.

“Game On” is clearly targeted at non gamers wanting to build social games.  It reads as though written to hold the hand of someone who is may be a professional, but doesn’t understand the first thing about social games.  But don’t be fooled into thinking that it is a book only for social games.  For example The ZoRTS project is not a social game, but I found tons of applicable material in this book.  If you have a game project, or are thinking about starting one, reading this book will force you to think about how you design your project, how the game itself works, and where the fun is for the players.  More than just a text on designing social games to promote a brand or product, “Game On” teaches enough about game design topic that amateurs will get something out the book.

Jon is like a magician who can make his magic tricks more splendid by showing you how they work.  He pulls back the curtain on games and gaming, but instead of revealing a disappointing Wizard, you find something even more amazing and splendid then you thought it would be.

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