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A list of book suggestions on the design of video game cities, urban world-building, and game urbanism.

Konstantinos Dimopoulos, Blogger

March 1, 2024

3 Min Read

Cities are complex beasts crafted over hundreds of years by thousands of people. To design and imagine them ex novo one must understand them, and to understand them one needs to read quite a bit. Also, to research widely; cities are complex and always in flux.

So, even though I have suggested books on urbanism and the design of game cities before, this is my latest, richer, and more up to date list so far.

Disclaimer: All the books presented here have proven helpful in my game urbanism work. They are not meant to cover subjects such as real-life city planning or traditional game design.

Urbanism & Architecture

  • The City Shaped by Spiro Kostof.

  • The City Assembled by Spiro Kostof.

  • 101 Things I Learned in Urban Design School by Matthew Frederick and Vikas Mehta.

  • 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School by Matthew Frederick.

  • Key Concepts in Urban Studies: Second Edition by Mark Gottdiener, Leslie Budd, Panu Lehtovuori.

  • Good City Form by Kevin Lynch.

  • The Image of the City by Kevin Lynch.

  • A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa and Murray Silverstein.

  • The Spotter’s Guide to Urban Engineering by Claire Barratt and Ian Whitelaw.

  • The 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design by Roman Mars and Kurt Kohlstedt.

  • The City of Collective Memory: Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments by M. Christine Boyer.

  • Fantasy Architecture: 1500–2036 by Neil Bingham, Clare Carolin, Rob Wilson and Peter Cook.

  • Architecture: Form, Space, and Order: Fourth Edition by Francis D.K. Ching.

  • Imaginary Cities by Darran Anderson.

Cities in Video Games

  • Virtual Cities: An Atlas & Exploration of Video Game Cities by Konstantinos Dimopoulos.

  • Space Time Play: Computer Games, Architecture and Urbanism: The Next Level edited by Friedrich von Borries, Steffen Waltz, and Matthias Boettger.

  • Virtual Interiorities: When Worlds Collide edited by Gregory Turner-Rahman, Vahid Vahdat , and Dave Gottwald.

  • Video Game Maps: NES & Famicom by Brian Riggsbee.

  • Architectonics of Game Spaces: The Spatial Logic of the Virtual and Its Meaning for the Real edited by Andri Gerber and Ulrich Goetz.

  • Videogame Atlas: Mapping Interactive Worlds by Luke Caspar Pearson, Sandra Youkhana, and Marie Foulston.

  • Ideology and the Virtual City: Videogames, Power Fantasies and Neoliberalism by Jon Bailes

Urban History

  • The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects by Lewis Mumford.

  • Cities of the World — A History In Maps by Peter Whitehead.

  • Cities of the World by Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg.

  • Paris: Capital of Modernity by David Harvey.

  • Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West by William Cronon.

  • The Birth of Modern City Planning by Camillo Sitte.

  • The Making of Urban Europe 1000–1994 by Lynn Hollen Lees and Paul Hohenberg.

World-building

  • The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding edited by Janna Silverstein.

  • Collaborative World Building for Video Games by Kaitlin Tremblay.

  • Making Videogames: The Art of Creating Digital Worlds by Alex Wiltshire and Duncan Harris.

Level, Narrative & Game Design

  • An Architectural Approach to Level Design by Christopher Totten.

  • Game Writing: Narrative Skills for Videogames — Second Edition edited by Chris Bateman.

  • Level Design: Concept, Theory & Practice by Rudolf Kremers.

  • Pattern Language for Game Design by Chris Barney

  • Video game Level Design: How to Create Video Game with Emotion, Interaction, and Engagement by Michael Salmond.

Inspiration

  • The Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Alberto Manguel and Gianni Guadalupi.

  • A Burglar’s Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh.

  • Anime Architecture: Imagined Worlds and Endless Megacities by Stefan Riekeles

  • City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles by Mike Davis.

  • The Wrong House, The Architecture of Alfred Hitchcock by Steven Jacobs.

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