I have a friend who joked that she would fire anybody who showed up at work on their first day and set up all their action figures! I thought that was pretty funny until I worked with a guy who spent most of his first couple of days putting up wall shelves and lining up regiments of Star Wars Micro Machines. He was a nice guy, but made a terrible first impression. At work, I have a pretty sparse collection of action figures: some Hokuto No Ken gachapons that my friend in Japan got me, a Dragon Quest Slime Soda that my ex-cubemate brought back from the Tokyo Game Show, and a few Mario figures that encourage me to always remember my roots as a game player as well as a designer. I also have a small shelf next to my desk which has an assortment of books, DVD’s, and games which I frequently use for reference and inspiration. When I walk around the office to talk to other coworkers, I always take a quick look at what they have on their shelf. One of the most fascinating shelves is an animator at the end of my row who has pretty much nothing except for CostCo sized boxes of Sweet & Low and Saltines. Maybe this is some delicacy I’m not aware of yet!
I decided to go around work and my Outlook Inbox to see what other people have on their shelves and why! I’ll start with myself. I have the three Lord of the Rings special extended version DVD box sets. I frequently listen to the various commentary tracks because they’re a wealth of information on how the creative process can effectively work within the realities of the production process on a large scale. I also have the Metal Gear Solid VR Missions guide because it has wonderful maps of just about every combat setup you can possibly imagine.
- Gal (lead animator) – “I have the Alien DVD on my desk right now… always reminds me that many times it is better to show less and let the viewers imagination fill the gaps.”
- Grace (designer) – “I had some left over Amazon credits and just got this book called ‘Artwork: Seeing Inside the Creative Process’ by ivan Vartanian because I like seeing how other people deal with creative problems and processes.”
- Jenny (lead programmer) – “The book would be ‘the Diamond age’ by Neal Stephenson and the reason would be that a scared little girl can be whoever she wants to be; that you are who you make yourself.”
- James (concept artist) - “‘The Complete Christmas Card Art of Eyvind Earle’. Rarely do you get such an in depth look at the evolution of an artist over his career. not only that, but the works inside are sometimes the only thing that fed his family through the great depression. He designed the book himself, chose the paper and cover stocks, and created a limited print run. It’s one of my prized possessions.”
- Mat (lead designer) – “‘Mastering Pac-Man’ by ken Uston. My brother gave it to me as a joke, but I love it and find the book rather amusing and funny!”
- Lee (art director) – “I actually keep a book on my desk called ‘Handbook of Diseases of the Rectum’. I’ve taken this book to every “art” job I’ve ever had. It was a gift from a friend in high school, who bought it at a used book store (it’s from the ’50′s). I keep it at my desk to remind me to not take myself too seriously, and also why I became an artist — which wasn’t to climb a corporate ladder or be too “professional”.”
- Casey (creative director) – “I have Scott Roger’s Level Up! on my shelf as a teaching reference and I have a bunch of Miyazaki art books for creative inspiration, to remember to use inspiration from my childhood since he is big on that.”
- Alex (senior designer) – “A sealed, “big box” copy of Daikatana sits on my desk. It’s a constant reminder to be a humble designer who listens to others.”
- Scott (Imagineer) – “‘Game Feel: A Game Designer’s Guide to Virtual Sensation’ by Steve Swink. When writing, I often read chapters from other books for reference and to provide inspiration. Swink’s book currently sits on my desk because it touches on some topics I’m writing about and bears some resemblance to my own book with its charming hand drawn illustrations. Out of all of the books I own, I consider it a game designer’s design book – one that’s important to have on your shelf. It’s not a light read, but if you want to dive into a single topic, it’s worth taking a look at.”
- Brian (producer) - “Peter Gabriel’s ‘Passion’, as it takes classic sources, and reinterprets them in an original way, making a new creation appropriate to being a movie soundtrack and approachable to its audience. Square and Dream Factory’s Tobal 1&2; the first game was the first I saw to use z-depth strategy effectively in a fighter, with a completely solid rock-paper-scissors form of striking/grappling resolution. It seemed perfect. The second game showed me that if designers are willing to take chances, there is still room for improvement even when something seems perfect.”
- Freddie (senior artist) – “I have the Minimum Essential Architecture Library edition on architect Steven Holl. He was (and till is) someone I look to for inspiration; I felt a connection to his work during my time at Cal, seemingly striving for a similar type of expression through form, except he does it better.”
What’s on your shelf?