Drew Davidson et al. 2009

Well Played: Video Games, Value and Meaning

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

Video games can be “well played” in two senses. On the one hand, well played is to games as well read is to books. On the other hand, well played as in well done.

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. 22 contributors (developers, scholars, reviewers and bloggers) look at video games through both senses of “well played.”

The goal 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.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License

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"Well Played is an incisive, often intimate glimpse into the legacy of electronic entertainment."

Jerry "Tycho" Holkins
Penny Arcade

"Playing well and deeply is a uniquely important skill in this age of participatory media.  The personal analyses found in this volume come from some of the best minds at play in the medium today; each examining their own unique relationship to a playful text."

Tracy Fullerton
Director, Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab
USC School of Cinematic Arts, Interactive Media Division

"Well Played 1.0 is nothing short of a love letter to games, collectively written by some of the best and brightest designers, thinkers, and critics working in the field of games today. Its essays are both odes to the power of games to engage, and subtle lamentations on what many in the world will miss by failing to become well played. It is a stellar collection that I will certainly return to again and again."

Katie Salen
Executive Director, Institute of Play
Professor, Parsons The New School for Design

"Well Played is the single most engaging, thought-provoking, and challenging book about games you will read this year. If you question this statement, pick a page, any page, and start reading. Whether it's Clint Hocking's pointed critique of Bioshock, or Jesse Schell's tales of personal discovery through Mines of Minos, or a detailed analysis of World of Goo, Portal, Zork, or any of the other games lovingly torn-down, lifted up, and put under the microscope--you will read, and wonder, and learn."

Carl Schnurr
Senior Director of Game Design