[Top 10] Best Game Development Books You Should Read

Best Game Development Books

With games development, where does one even start? Figuring out what you want to do first isn't always possible.

Game Development is a tricky business and you’re best off simply rolling up your sleeves and diving right in. While no amount of highfalutin book learning can contend with simple, honest experience, combining the two is a recipe for success. So read on, friends. At a minimum, you’ll impress a job recruiter with your erudition.


10. Beginning C++ Through Game Programming, by Michael Dawson

For developers, C++ is the best place to start.

As of 2020, the most popular programming language in games development is easily C++. C++ emphasizes performance and speed, making it ideal for games and high performing applications. Whether one is interested in program management, quality assurance, or programming, a basic understanding of the language provided here goes a long way in games development. Never divide by zero!


9. IT Project Management: On Track from Start to Finish, by Joseph Phillips

A certificate goes a decent ways on a resume.

Most games development projects use what is known as “the triad” to complete projects and produce sterling quality software. Programmers, Testers, and Program Managers. This book will set you on a path to certifying yourself, should you wish to do so, for a CompTIA project management credential. You don’t need to go that far to get into games development, but knowing what your project manager wants before they even ask is a superpower which never fails to impress.


8. The Logic of Scientific Discovery, by Karl Popper

The Great Sir Karl Popper has had considerable influence on testing.

At first glance, games development doesn’t have much to do with a book written in 1959. But the principles and philosophies provided here inform the methods quality assurance departments apply ensuring a product is ready to ship. This book is highly recommended for testers with a couple years of experience. They will nod along as they read, understanding they have been applying these ideas already. They will gain an understanding of why they should bother in the first place. Software testing is, at its heart, a scientific exploration and report of the state of the product.


7. AGILE Scrum Crash Course, by Umer W.

The title sounds violent, but this is a smooth ride through Scrum.

Project management in games is all about a method called Agile these days. This book breaks down the plethora of terms and what they mean. Stories, tasks, sprints, cost, there are dozens of terms explored and defined here for the reader. More importantly, it explains how and why they are used while also preparing the reader for a certification as a Scrum Master. While there is no certification for Master of the Universe, there is a certificate for Master of the Scrum. Scrum Masters are generally in high demand in the games industry and the certification as such goes a long way. This certificate combined with other experience or specialty is an excellent addition to a resume.


6. The Basics of Kanban, by Aditi Agarwal

Kanban isn't just a dance, it's a way of life for software makers.

In addition to an understanding of Agile, many development teams are beginning to use a method of distributing work called Kanban. Many projects tend to go on forever, as new requirements are identified, and additional work called for. Staring into the endlessly deep abyss of games development can be traumatizing. Kanban is used to keep productive flows lean and mean and odds are good most developers will be implementing it over the next several years. Kanban is an excellent companion to Agile and keeps developers and schedules from teetering on the edge.


5. Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Antifragile is the opposite of fragile, but the best software programs can do is become robust. It makes sense if you read the book.

An interesting book, Antifragile can’t really be summarized. In too short a description, one could say it explores the concept of risk in complex systems and how these systems react to volatility. Viewing players and quality assurance testers as a volatile source of unexpected inputs and outcomes is an excellent way to craft test and release plans for games projects. A philosophical and mathematical backdrop for anyone who finds themselves helming a beta program or managing large automation frameworks. Recommended for experienced industry veterans or anyone with a philosophical bent.


4. Windows PowerShell Cookbook, by Lee Holmes

PowerShell is a powerful scripting program most useful for networking services and managing large clusters of operating systems.

Most quality assurance testers these days need to understand how to script operations and tasks. PowerShell is an easy, logical scripting language which can let the tester pull diagnostics, deploy machine images, and perform a variety of other operations they may find themselves repeatedly engaged in any given day. Scripting these actions saves the tester a lot of time, in addition to sanity. In quality assurance, one’s sanity is a precious commodity to be jealously guarded and protected.


3. Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, by Al Sweigart

Mowing the lawn! Mowing the lawn! Ah, I love Judas Priest.

Another essential book detailing and guiding the reader through automating tasks and tests with Python. If the tester finds themselves repeating mundane operations over and over throughout the day or week, those operations should be automated to free up time for less boring and more effective tests. Whatever PowerShell can’t accomplish, Python can pick up the slack. One can also develop games using Python.


2. Testing Computer Software, by Cem Kaner, Jack Falk, and Hung Quoc Nyugen

Over twenty years of development experience has shown me most offices have this book in it somewhere. Even if just to prop up a desk leg.

The quality assurance industry standard for years. This weighty tome covers methods and principles applied in all quality assurance departments. From testing devices to applications to input fields, its scope is vast and ambitious, covering most aspects of software testing and providing a solid methodical foundation for any software and quality assurance tester. Intended for beginners and adepts, this book is a must read for those interested in software testing. If one is still interested in testing after reading it, they’ve struck upon a potentially rewarding career path. If not, they will walk away understanding it is not, in fact, all fun and games. Even if testing games.


1. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, by Jason Schreier

If you’ve read the books listed above, you’re already equipped with a phenomenal theoretical knowledge of how games get made, quality is assured, and how projects complete. Why not treat yourself to something a bit lighter but still on point? This book details game development as a whole in a narrative setting full of anecdotes from developers. It offers a break from dusty technical tomes and clothes the game development process with the human skin it truly possesses.


Consuming the books here will establish a solid foundation of theoretical knowledge regarding how games are made. But understanding them completely requires practical experience. If one finds themselves contributing to a game in development, the best way to learn is to simply ask questions. Odds are good your team members are there due to a love of games. Every project is a learning process and no book can contain all the knowledge one accrues over a lifetime career of making games.

Happy reading!

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A geriatric gamer, R.B. Lamb has enjoyed calloused thumbs for decades by now. Hailing from the Emerald City, also known as Seattle, he aspires to someday take flight with the other monkeys.
Gamer Since: 1984
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2
Top 3 Favorite Games:Dark Souls 3 , Diablo, The Talos Principle

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