John Ferrara’s “Playful Design” is the first book that I can recall reading that contained a FAQ. I initially thought this might be a good thing as I like the idea that the goals of the book be spelled out right from the start.
However, after reading the book I suspect there is a different reason for the FAQ. That is, this book has a bit of an identity crisis. The first sentence in the “Who should read…” section states:
written for designers of conventional software, websites, mobile apps, and other computer-mediated user experiences who are looking for novel approaches …
This sounds promising to me since the premise is that the novel approaches come from the application of design techniques found in the gaming industry. This is a worthy goal I say, however the book reads much as a primer for game design definitions. In very few spots did I see parallels drawn between game design practices and “conventional software” design practices. Likewise, I rarely (if ever) saw guidelines for applying the game techniques for practical purposes.
As a book for expanding one’s techniques this book falls far short. As a way to expose oneself to the lexicon of the game industry and some (sadly thin) discussion regarding gamification this book is, well, just OK. I was hoping for a book that could guide me in applying game design techniques, but instead got a book that was filled with jargon. On the bright side, the jargon was mostly defined (eventually). I suppose if you’re interested in breaking into the game industry or using its design techniques for your greater good, then you’re on your own.
2 out of 5 stars.