05 April 2011

Book Review--Gamestorming by Dave Gray, et. al

If you didn't know O'Reilly press, publishers of some of the best computer science books out there..and other areas as well (seriously) has this really cool program where if you agree to review the book they supply you with a free digital version of it. Here are the guidelines to join: http://oreillynet.com/oreilly/bloggers/guidelines.html Now not all of the titles are available, they only have selected ones, but still it's a good deal.

Needless to say I am taking advantage of this when I can so from time to time I'll be posting a review here.  O'Reilly has only given me a free digital copy of the book and nothing else.

And just in case y'all are wondering where O'Reilly stands on the whole ebook landscape: 
You get lifetime access to ebooks you purchase through oreilly.com. Whenever possible we provide them to you in five DRM-free file formats — PDF, ePub, Kindle-compatible .mobi, DAISY, and Android .apk — that you can use on the devices of your choice. Our ebooks are enhanced with color images, even when the print version is black and white. They are fully searchable, and you can cut-and-paste and print them. We also alert you when we've updated your ebooks with corrections and additions.
(from their website)
Pretty cool no?

So let's get started shall we?

by Dave Gray, Sunni Brown, and James Macanufo
O'Reilly Press  2010

First off...this is not a computer science book.  Yes O'Reilly is a computer science press, but they also publish some pretty good business/management/other books, Confessions of a Public Speaker for example. And this book also falls into that category.  The authors design games to help educate and encourage innovation in the workplace and they've found that games really help people understand the concepts.  The first section begins with defining what the different types of games are, what the benefits of the types are, and different traits needed within the different types of games.  They then provide over 80 game examples under different categories, such as "games for exploring" and "games for closing." Each game has a short description, a little picture of the game, what's needed, how to play it, and a strategy.  The book ends with a brief chapter on how to put the games into play in the workplace.

To be honest this isn't what I thought the book would be about (my fault for not reading the description a bit better.)  I was picturing something on creating video games, not using simple games at work.  That being said this is still a pretty valuable book.  I'd probably use it in conjunction with a few other books (like some of the authors that gave blurbs for the book, such as Tony Hsieh.)  Mostly because other books will provide a framework for innovation and give some examples of how they used it or just to provide some inspiration to get started at innovating.  Where this book excels is providing some hands on tools for getting innovation started at your place of work. They do a good job of breaking down how work is already like a game, and define that its the point in the middle, where the creativity lies, that gets bogged down sometimes.  They get a bit longed winded in the first couple of chapters in describing the games (they really like to look in the past which at times is a bit confusing), but they provide some really good examples of games and what they can be used for.  My one big complaint is that I wish that last chapter had been a bit longer.

I review for the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program

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