"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.

"How to Think like Leonardo daVinci" by Michael Gelb

At the moment there are so many blog posts scheduled, that everyone gets a bonus post this week!  This post is inspired by 101 ways to draw more traffic to your siteIn case you don’t know The Traffic Blogger I highly recommend you check him out.  More then just blogging about blogging, he runs the incredible Just My Two Copper forum/post/community (marketing machine).  I’ve learned a lot from both of his ventures.

“98. Write about someone famous who has been dead for more than 200 years. Incorporate their story into a lesson about your niche.”

That line caused instantaneous inspiration.  Leonardo Da Vinci.  We know that he’s one of the smartest and most creative people that has ever lived.  Have there been people as smart, and as creative since or before?  Sure there have.  But we don’t know them because Leonardo was genius enough to write his thoughts and ideas down.  He kept a journal.

Years ago, while working at a bookstore, I found a book called “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci”. The cliché “It changed my life” is true.  Although I would add “In a subtle but profound way”.  I have held onto this book for years because it contains great lessons learned by studying the life and genius of da Vinci.http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thzopr-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0440508274&fc1=FFFBFB&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=A7A7A7&bc1=000000&bg1=060606&f=ifr

Keeping a journal is the piece of advice that is life altering.  Applying that advice to game design is brilliant.  Write down all your game design ideas; no matter how big or small.  All RPG character ideas, all LARP ideas, and CCG ideas.  Anything.  Once you have all these little ideas floating around in your journals, start to connect them together.

Another approach is to refine and collect those ideas in a new medium.  You might think that this blog is the original journal.  However it’s actually a refinement, a revision of that journal.  The ideas of this blog are culled out of ideas from journals.  Ideas combine and form, and become something new.  Like Alchemy.  😉

This method of taking notes and then refining them is a good way to study something.  The difference between knowledge and understanding is application.  If you can apply knowledge (data on something) in some way you gain understanding.  Start by writing down notes in a journal, and then rewriting those notes into something useful to someone else (or yourself later).  I feel that it’s important to have a hand written journal, and from that create a digital version.  Each format is a very different medium and that helps the brain process the knowledge into understanding.   

When younger I wrote angst ridden emotional junk about my current circumstances, thinking that a journal was a catalog of every emotional thing that happened mixed in with all the ideas.  Good journals are not diaries.  Avoid that temptation.  Years later you will want to throw that crap away.  Luckily I kept one diary full of angst and one journal full of ideas.  All the drawings and ideas had a much more positive emotional association years later then all the drama.  The diary got thrown out because it was too embarrassing to look at.

I should reread the book and write another book review to go with Inbound Marketing.

"Inbound Marketing" by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah

Inbound Marketing: Get Found using Google, Social Media, and Blogshttp://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=thzopr-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0470499311&fc1=FFFBFB&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=A7A7A7&bc1=000000&bg1=060606&f=ifr
by Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah

This book is really useful if you know nothing about marketing, and most likely useful if you know a lot about traditional marketing.  Despite a cohort of class mates which work for Boston Marketing Firms, I know nothing about Marketing. As such this was a very informative read for me.  This book has great advice about how to get the word out about the work that you are doing.  Tons of great information about creating content, using the content to get found and ranked, and then converting visitors of that content into users/buyers.

The book talks about getting the basics set up; analytic, and analysis tools.  It talks about the mechanics and infrastructure required to have an effective blog.  Additionally it speaks to the timing of when you would want to start blogging about a product or service.  Combine the information in Inbound Marketing with the suggestions found on thetrafficblogger.com and you will quickly build a great community around your game.

One critical tool recommend in the book, that I really want to remember, is blog.grader.com.  Sure they grade the blog and measure your SEO… which is not that important to a new blogger.  But more importantly for new bloggers they offer a list of tools that should be on each website.  As a side note check out the rest of Hubspot‘s tools and services as well.  They have some neat information there about blogging and entrepreneurship.

Even if you think you know about getting your message out there, reading Inbound Marketing will make you realize ways to leverage that communication a little better.  It will fill in the reasons why taking steps to communicate through multiple channels simultaneously makes sense.  And the book also provides quick recaps which basically function as checklists.  These are helpful to make sure that you have not missed a critical step.

This book did not teach everything about marketing and blogging.  It did teach me the kinds of things that I needed to look at.  It showed me the areas that needed more practice.  “Inbound Marketing” acted as a jumping off point for a whole lot more.