What makes a game good?
or bad? or better?

This book is full of in-depth close readings of video games that parse out the various meanings to be found in the experience of playing a game. Contributors analyze sequences in a game in detail in order to illustrate and interpret how the various components of a game can come together to create fulfilling a playing experience unique to this medium. Contributors have chosen the video games in which they’re interested and then they play them well.

To clarify, the term “well played” is being used in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. So, a person who reads books a lot is “well read” and a person who plays games a lot is “well played.” On the other hand, well played as in well done. So, a hand of poker can be “well played” by a person, and a game can be “well played” by the development team.

Contributors are looking at video games through both senses of “well played.” So, with well played as in well read, contributors are looking closely at the experience of playing a game. And with well played as in well done, contributors are looking at a game in terms of how well it is designed and developed.

Needless to say, this book is completely full of spoilers on all the games discussed, so consider this your fair warning. While it’s not necessary, all the contributors encourage you to play the games before you read about them.

The goal of this book is to help develop and define a literacy of games as well as a sense of their value as an experience. Video games are a complex medium that merits careful interpretation and insightful analysis. With that in mind, Well Played 1.0 is meant to be the first book in a series. We’re already starting 1.5 (with contributors writing on the same games found here in 1.0) and for 2.0 (with contributors writing on new games that aren’t covered in 1.0). By inviting contributors to look closely at specific video games and the experience of playing them, we hope to clearly show how games are well played.