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Theory of Fun for Game Design, 2nd Edition by Raph Koster

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“The best game design book I have ever read.”

David Jaffe, creative director of God of War

“Does for games what Understanding Comics did for sequential art. Non-gamers: Buy this for the gamer in your life. Gamers: Buy this for the non-gamer in your life. You’ll never look at fun the same way again.”

Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother and Pirate Cinema; co-editor of Boing Boing

One of “50 Books For Everyone In the Game Industry”


One of the “Five Books You Should Read About Game Design”


“If you’re interested in game design, get it and read it.”

Steve Jackson, designer of Munchkin and GURPS


Midwest Book Review

“...It’s a book I sincerely believe everyone should have read at least once in their lifetime. It’s that important... what Campbell and Vogler did to storytelling, Koster has done to play...This book is history in the making. It will be referred to in seminal books whose authors have not yet even been born.”


“An excellent, even foundational, read for anyone interested in creating experiences that challenge and engage minds.”

Learning Solutions Magazine

“An absolute classic on the theory of playing games.”

Tom Chatfield, author of Fun, Inc.

“Koster successfully bridges the gap between game design practice and academic theory... For anyone interested in the relationship between games and human experience, this book is a must-read.”

Australian Journal of Emerging Technologies and Society

“Koster outlines a convincing manifesto for why people do or don’t have a good time in games in A Theory of Fun. He also makes us feel very very not smart.”

Game Informer Magazine

“You cannot possibly read it and not feel at least twice like your brain has been hit by lightning.”

Jessica Mulligan, online gaming pioneer

“Anyone that wants to know what REALLY makes a game fun needs to read this book.”

Chris Melissinos, curator of the Smithsonian’s Art of Videogames exhibit

“The arcane mysteries of game design go poof with this delightful approach to the fundamentals of fun.”

Computer Games Magazine

“Gaming is much more than having fun—it is core to being human. Understanding games, and fun, helps us understand ourselves. Raph Koster is one of the good guys, always working to make more fun in our world. With this book he’s just helped all of us, his readers and students, do exactly that.”

Mike McShaffry, author of Game Coding Complete

“Koster has written one of the best books for our industry. I hope everyone adds it to their bookshelf.”

Scott Miller, CEO of 3DRealms


Training Media Review

A Theory of Fun elucidates some basic truths that apply not just to games but to all entertainment. Even better, it does so in a style that is clear, insightful, and... fun! I expect this book to become an instant classic, fascinating to anyone who has ever made a game--or played one.”

Noah Falstein, Chief Game Designer at Google

“An important and valuable book.”

Ernest Adams, game designer

“Please do yourself a favor and pick up a copy.”

Brenda Romero, designer of Train

“A book about fun which is actually fun to read. It reminds me of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics—a work which makes sophisticated arguments by pulling them down to basic principles and presenting them in an engaging fashion. Raph Koster offers a road map for how to make games an even more expressive medium.”

Dr. Henry Jenkins, USC

“Everyone from professional game developers to those who want to understand why we play games will enjoy A Theory of Fun.”

Cory Ondrejka, Facebook

“My favorite work on this subject to date and therefore I highly recommend it.”

David Perry, of Shiny Entertainment, Gaikai, and Sony

“Raph Koster asks the important question about games: why are they fun, and what does that say about games and about us? [It is] a tour of the nature of consciousness, how games do and do not intersect with reality, the difference between games and stories, and the seven different kinds of fun. It’s a tour you’ll be glad to take with him.”

Clay Shirky, NYU

“Great sophistication yet without a trace of pretention or even an excess of big words.”

Michael Feldstein, SUNY Learning Network

A Theory of Fun is a must read for anyone who wants to understand why games are so pervasive today, as it sheds new light into why fun matters in this world, and how ‘play’ makes us truly human.”

Dan Arey, designer on the Jak and Daxter series

“Tackles the questions of fun and engagement in a fun and engaging way.”

Learning Circuits, American Society for Training and Development

“Everyone involved in game design—students, teachers, and professionals—should read this.”

Ian Schreiber, co-author of Challenges for Game Designers

“A delightful read. This book fills the ‘game apologist’ niche in my bookshelf.”

Dan Cook, game designer of Triple Town

“A very fun book :D executed in a witty entertaining style.”

Michael Samyn of Tale of Tales

“Koster’s A Theory of Fun is well-written, timely, passionate and scientifically informed, a fine piece of work that’s bound to get lots of well-deserved attention.”

Dr. Edward Castronova, Indiana University and author of Exodus to the Virtual World

“If there is a game designer lurking anywhere in your soul, this book may not be the Bible of game design, but I would certainly include it in the Apocrypha (the missing books of the Bible)... [E]ssential reading. I can’t imagine anyone in the game industry who would not profit from enjoying this delightful book.”

Alan Emrich, Art Institute of California

“[One of] my very favorite books of all time... Raph, the Creative Lead of Many a Famous Online Game looks first at Human Nature, and from that, he deduces that games are very important, and puts forward formulae for understanding games. You end up going, ‘Woah.’”

George “The Fat Man” Sanger, game audio legend

“Well worth reading. It won’t take long to get through; and there is a great deal of thoughtfulness crammed into its few pages.”

Lee Sheldon, game designer

“Raph’s book has the most important words of wisdom for our entire industry that I’ve read yet. He’s spot on when talking about how our work, our craft can only be taken seriously if developers themselves start taking their work seriously and produce art.”

Reid Kimball, game designer

“If you have any interest in game design, you should read this book.”


“Thankfully, A Theory of Fun exceeded my expectations on all levels. It has the accessibility of Understanding Comics, having a narrative depicted in images on every other page. But it also has the depth... an excellent book and an instant classic.”

Terra Nova

“Worth reading. You should go buy it and read it.”

Dave Sirlin, game designer

“Raph Koster’s Theory of Fun for Game Design is brilliant—not a game design primer, but a meditation on what it is about games that makes them fun, and certainly worth reading for that reason.”

Greg Costikyan, game designer

“I’m a huge fan. I think I’ve handed out close to 15 copies of this book so far, including a copy to my mother. I love how I can use this book to spark an advanced design conversation but also use it to explain to my mom what the hell it is I do for a living and why all these games I play actually matter.”

Paul Stephanouk, game designer

“You should buy the book immediately if you haven’t already, by the way. Yes, that is a gold-plated recommendation.”

Dr. Richard Bartle, co-creator of MUDs

“Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design is an important book. On one level, it’s a manifesto for social responsibility and artistry in game design. On another level, it’s an insightful exploration of human motivation and learning.”

Nonprofit Online News

“Raph Koster’s A Theory of Fun for Game Design takes an entertaining look at a subject that has, in some ways, been taken too seriously by other authors. The book is thoughtful as well, providing a groundwork for a discussion of games as learning tools, art, and societal shapers...”


“This entertaining and innovative book is ostensibly for game designers. Personally, I think it is more than that: it’s a primer for anyone interested in games, both for how they work and what we think of them.”


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