Five Books for Indie Game Developers to Draw Inspiration


Indie game development can be a challenging endeavour. Especially as a solo developer, there will be days that you feel overwhelmed and demotivated, and might consider giving up.

During those times, reading biographies of successful people can be an effective source of inspiration. It can help us see that everyone has had to work through obstacles and failures to achieve their goals.

In this post, I have compiled a list of books about successful game developers, that I have personally read and recommend. Hopefully, their stories will help to keep you inspired and motivated while working on your game.

Sid Meier’s Memoir!

Sid Meier’s Memoir!: A Life in Computer Games is an autobiographical book written by Sid Meier, programmer, game designer, and co-founder of MicroProse (1982) and Firaxis (1996).

He takes us through his entire career and covers his experiences developing games, such as Pirates! (1987), F-19 Stealth Fighter (1988), Railroad Tycoon (1990), Civilization (1991), and others.

His book offers a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiration behind each game and the development process, while discussing the challenges and the lessons he learned along the way.

Masters of Doom

Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture was written by David Kushner, based on interviews he conducted.

The story focuses on John Carmack and John Romero, co-founders of id Software (1991), starting from their early days as aspiring game developers to their creation of games, such as Wolfenstein 3D (1992), Doom (1993), and Quake (1996).

Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings

As a massive fan of Sierra adventure games, I feel that the title of this book could have been framed in a more positive light, considering Sierra’s contributions to the game industry. But don’t let it discourage you from reading it.

Not All Fairy Tales Have Happy Endings: The Rise and Fall of Sierra On-Line was written by Ken Williams and tells the story of Sierra On-Line (1979), which he co-founded with his wife Roberta Williams. Initially running the company from their home kitchen and selling games in Ziploc bags, Sierra was one of the very first computer game companies and became well-known for its graphic adventure games, such as King’s Quest (1984), Space Quest (1986), Leisure Suit Larry (1987), Police Quest (1987), and others.

If you are interested to learn more about Sierra, this is the official website of Ken & Roberta Williams.


Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution is a classic book written by Steven Levy that traces the history of computer pioneers. It covers both computer hardware and software.

The book dedicates several chapters discussing the history of computer gaming, covering early games, such as Spacewar! (1962) and Adventure (1976), and the beginnings of the gaming industry, with companies such as Atari (1972), Sierra On-Line (1979), Infocom (1979), Broderbund (1980), Electronic Arts (1982), and others.

Doom Guy

Doom Guy: Life in First Person is an autobiographical book written by John Romero, co-founder of id Software (1991). He talks about his life and career, covering similar stories as in David Kushner’s Masters of Doom, but told from first-hand experiences and in far greater detail.