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Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  10,372 ratings  ·  1,085 reviews

Developing video games—hero's journey or fool's errand? The creative and technical logistics that go into building today's hottest games can be more harrowing and complex than the games themselves, often seeming like an endless maze or a bottomless abyss. In Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, Jason Schreier takes readers on a fascinating odyssey behind the scenes of video game deve

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Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Harper Paperbacks
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Aidy_bear Thats what the library's for brudda. I typically only buy books that i've already read and want to have on hand for lending out to friends and casual …moreThats what the library's for brudda. I typically only buy books that i've already read and want to have on hand for lending out to friends and casual rereading.(less)

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Tim O'Hearn
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked this book up for one reason: to learn why Diablo 3 was such a letdown. I vaguely remembered a well-known developer posting "F*** that loser" on Facebook in reference to a past contributor criticizing the new game and that being a big deal. I really hoped to get the full story behind what went on there. Speculation on Blizzard's next Diablo venture would have been cool, too. Really, I would have read a book entirely about the Diablo franchise.

By the time I got to the Diablo 3 section, I
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Erik
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dear Goodreads Father, forgive me, for I have sinned: I love video games as much as I love books. It's true, I put them on an equal level. I know it is blasphemy, but I cannot help this corruption of my heart. Truth is, I love anything with a story, no matter the medium. Film, TV, books, video games, the secret hearts of strangers...

But, yes, video games, the newest and most immature of these media and therefore the one with the most room for growth. I have been there from nearly the beginning
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Mike Horowitz
Jan 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: read-in-2017
As much as it hopes to show the "realities" of game development, Jason Schreier's book only succeeds at casually shrugging off crunch, "death marches" and glaringly evident worker exploitation. The stories sell, but his writing is grossly irresponsible.

This quote by Glen Weldon on NPR sums up my thoughts:
"There's another book lurking beneath the surface of the one Schreier's written, which ditches such blandishments and tackles the culture of gaming — and gaming development — with a saltiness t
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Rob
Executive Summary: I think this book can appeal to both software developers and fans of video games alike, but it's definitely targeted more at the latter than the former.

Full Review
This book was previewed with an excerpt from the chapter on Diablo 3 (which incidentally is the ONLY game in this book that I've actually played/plan to play).

When I was younger I wanted to make video games. Somewhere along the way however I felt like I'd rather spend my time PLAYING games instead of making them
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Thom
May 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Ten separate articles about the making of 10 particular video games, with no connecting materials or conclusions drawn. May be of interest to players of those games, but fails to live up to the cover blurbs, e.g. "A fascinating and remarkably complete pantheon."

The ten games, in order, are Pillars of Eternity, Uncharted 4, Stardew Valley, Diablo III, Halo Wars, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Shovel Knight, Destiny, The Witcher 3, and Star Wars 1313. Only the last was never released. There was only a v
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Maurício Linhares
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
So you think your job as a software engineer sucks? Think again, you could be working on games!

Nightmarish environments with total and complete lack of management, direction, tooling or even a common dictionary, a bootload of manual testing and very little feedback until you finally deliver the final game to customers. Now add a sprinkle of 100 hour weeks (yes, you will work on weekends), no overtime pay and very little financial incentive and you end up completely burned out, broke and most lik
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Fiona
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, ebook, 2017
I can't say it really taught me a whole lot about game development, apart from I wouldn't want to do it due to all that "crunch" time.

Basically, people come up with an idea, there is a few problems along the way which are mostly all the same kinda thing - technical issues, often publishers wanting to hurry a game out (Dragon Age 2) and then horrendous crunch time.

Perhaps it would have been more interesting if he'd looked at game development as a whole, rather than breaking it down into chapter
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TraceyL
Jun 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting look into the development process of video games. The author did a great job at picking which games to talk about. He chose a variety of big AAA games and smaller indie games, focusing on whichever games had the craziest stories. He researched them well but I already knew most of the information from gaming podcasts and news feeds. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy playing video games but haven't looked into the industry as a whole.
Kara Babcock
I love behind-the-scenes looks at industries that we don’t often think about. Whether you’re buying a game in the store or downloading it from Steam, chances are you aren’t that knowledgeable about what the game development industry is actually like. Oh, you might have read some horror stories on Reddit, heard some of the gossip going back and forth on gaming blogs. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made is about more than that, though. Jason ...more
Jesse Billet
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a very well written book that I think Jason spent a lot of time on. Time that leaves me a quite a bit confused. However, I want to address some very strange misconceptions that people seem to be having having about this book. This is not some guide to game development and this book is not going to help you make your Indie game. If you're buying this book for that reason then you're going to be left disappointed.

Now this is a really solid book and it's very well written but with the exce
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Caitlin
"One surefire way to annoy a game developer is to ask, in response to discovering his or her chosen career path, what it’s like to spend all day playing video games.”

In Blood, Sweat, and Pixels, Jason Schreier gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at some major videogames (successes, failures and everything in between) to show what it’s like working in the video game industry. Among the games that Schreier looks at are Destiny, Stardew Valley, Shovel Knight, Dragon Age Inquisition and the fable
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Daniel Bastian
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
"Oh, Jason," he said. "It's a miracle that any game is made."

Finally, a book that captures the complexity of game development that anyone can pick up and enjoy. Jason Schreier of Kotaku spent two years traveling around the world to score in depth interviews with the industry's most renowned gaming studios. Drawing from sources speaking both on and off the record, Blood, Sweat, and Pixels provides a rare glimpse into the pain and passion that go into bringing a modern video game to market. In ten
...more
Ioana
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When a book makes you miss your station twice, you know it's a good one. I originally picked this up with the premise of 'I'm reading this for work', but I ended up really enjoying it and even played Stardew Valley and looked further into 'The Witcher 3'! I am not a massive gamer, but I do have my niche of games I get caught into ('The Sims', 'Need for Speed' to name a few) so I was at least hoping that if I read it for work I might find something that I would like to explore further and that wo ...more
Michel Avenali
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
A revealing insightful look at the trials and tribulations that go into making some of the biggest games of today.
As a gamer it was a revelation of what goes on behind the scenes of game development and how incredibly hard it is for these teams of passionate developers to create these experiences.
Highly recommended if you are interested in game design and development , are a gamer yourself or wish to learn more about the industry.
Michelle Curie
Apr 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Just because playing video games are fun, doesn't mean making them is. This book is a fascinating testament to the dedication, difficulty and turbulence that goes into the creation of every single one of them.



Jason Schreier is a journalist who works as a news editor at Kotaku, a renowned blog that focusses on gaming related news. For this book, he set himself the task to give people a look behind the scenes by going round interviewing people at various studios to tell the story of their games'
...more
Philipp
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Alternative title: How the sausage is made

Fun collection of essays/articles on how computer games are made, one game per chapter/article. Most of these games are fairly new, so if like me you're born in the 80s chances are you won't have played them (some games: Diablo III, Witcher 3, Uncharted 4, Stardew Valley, Pillars of Eternity). Some stories are success stories (Witcher 3), some are failures (Star Wars 1313, cancelled when Disney bought Lucasarts).

What struck me was how little planning or
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Artjoms Haleckis
I'm playing games since like I'm 4. And I'm not going to stop till I die.
Videogames and industry, in general, are my hobbies and it's great that it's possible to be a gamer nowadays without being ashamed (compared to my early school days and childhood).
I became a software developer because I started programming to write games on my own. I spent endless summers creating another text adventure quest on Basic or prototyping my own RPG.

Then life happened. I'm still a software developer, but I'm int
...more
Alex Givant
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tts, memoirs, best-of-2018
Excellent book about what it takes to build game that players want to play for many hours. I love Diablo 3, but on start they had this auction for game items that many people hated, read in the book they dropped it and added lot of stuff to make it fun again - should check the game again!
Juan-Pablo
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was ok
Depressing. Almost all stories are about teams of 50+ devs in continuous crunch mode.
Tyler Sampson
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely fascinating read, and cool to see how some of this generations most revered games almost failed to see release. With games like Dragon Age Inquisition and Witcher 3 (two games that won many game of the year awards) and even the infamous Star Wars 1313 and its tremulous tale, this book is a must read for anyone interested in game development as a career, hobby or even just slightly interested in the inside baseball of it all.
Sven Kirsimäe
Dec 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: at-audible
I'm not an avid video game player these days as I had my shares well in the early century still having a list of games in my Steam account to go through. Nevertheless, every time I fire up a video game, being a software engineer, I find myself wondering how it might have been to create what I see. This book lays down it all, using examples that can be downloaded and played today, knowing the blood and sweat sacrificed to get those pixels onto the screen. From now on, for sure, every time I fire ...more
Vladimir
Mar 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-original
Even though this book does feel like a collection of 10 (really good) articles, it is a very enjoyable read for any gamer. I especially admire the selection of games, most of which I played and loved. Books about games are such a rarity in general, so if Jason writes up another one with the same premise but about different games, I'd happily buy it instantly.
Kalin
Dec 27, 2019 marked it as part-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: games
If you're interested in insider stories like these, you'll probably love The Digital Antiquarian. Jimmy Maher does (I think) a more in-depth analysis, and his writing is generally livelier. ...more
Dhanush
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, 2020
I enjoyed listening to this audiobook a lot. Previously even though I had heard a lot about game development and what goes on behind the scenes, I had never seen a better in-depth view of it before. I loved knowing what happened during the development of many of my favourite games and how the games came to be and the work behind these games. I am more sympathetic towards the game developers now that I know how hard they crunch to get them to us and us gamers should go easy on them when a game is ...more
Katie Seifert
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyed this book! However, it reads like a series of really good, well researched Kotaku articles that I'm used to getting from Jason Schreier. While I enjoyed the vignettes it would have been nice if there was a more overarching message other than "making a video game is pure chaos and also crunch time is bad".

The definite highlight for me was the Stardew Valley chapter. I still don't know how in the WORLD he made that game all by himself. I also really enjoyed the Halo Wars and Dra
...more
Xane
Sep 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Video game development is a hard thing to write about. In most cases, it's such a large, expensive, and lengthy process that trying to describe it in a single chapter is essentially an impossible task. Blood, Sweat, and Pixels attempts to tell the stories of ten games in ten chapters. Largely, it succeeds. The book accurately captures the insane difficulty of creating a game (not to mention making a successful game) and presents it in an engaging, easily readable format. It also has some flaws. ...more
Aali Hashim
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I normally don't read nonfiction because it bores me, but I wanted to know more about how video games were made, and most importantly why the fuck Bungie thought their version of Destiny was worth 60 dollars plus over a 100 more in worthless DLC. So when I started reading this book, I did not expect to fall in love with Schreier's writing style. He writes each chapter (and game) as a story - from the birth of the concept to the actual execution and everything that happens in between. My first in ...more
Archagon
Sep 18, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A curious read, but doesn't reach the heights of something like "Masters of Doom". The main fault is that there's no thread to pull on. Each chapter is a relatively light account of the development of a recent video game, and while there are plenty of developer quotes scattered throughout the pages, they don't really shed much light on the personalities involved, technical challenges faced, or wider historical context. (Indeed, they very often simply repeat what the author just stated.) I loved ...more
Sebastian Gebski
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun to read, indeed.

I've expected something more like an analysis of why game development is different to all the other kind of software (why all the crunch), how does this industry evolve (early access, PTW, internal marketplaces, streaming), etc. What I've got instead is few (6? 7? I don't remember) stories of how few certain high profile (very well known) games were developed, what were the biggest challenges & how did the creators achieve their goal. In fact, not all of the stories are succe
...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2020
Blood, Sweat, and Pixels is a celebration of crunch time, and of all the pieces that have to come together to make a video game work. Video games are as complex an entertainment medium as we have, yet making them is a process beset by managerial chaos, incredibly bad tools (and I thought SQL Management Studio was a drag), and long long hours.

It's weird that 35 years on from video games becoming more than just a toy for geeks, the process for making them is so chaotic and poorly understood. Wors
...more
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