Games are about connection: use them to connect to something worthwhile. In this guide, Elizabeth Sampat takes designers through a process of reaching through themselves to reach out to others. Drawing on influences as varied as history, politics, psychology and theater, EMPATHY ENGINES sketches a complex network of interaction and community, and shows that system design is at its beating heart. With thorough breakdowns of a multitude of games (blockbuster and indie) and thought-provoking exercises at the end of each chapter, EMPATHY ENGINES will make any game designer think more closely about how to wield systems with intention.

Behind the fluorescent veil of modern big-business video games, a quiet revolution is happening, and it’s centered on a tool called Twine. Taken up by nontraditional game authors to describe distinctly nontraditional subjects—from struggles with depression, explorations of queer identity, and analyses of the world of modern sex and dating to visions of breeding crustacean horses in a dystopian future—the Twine movement to date has created space for those who have previously been voiceless within games culture to tell their own stories, as well as to invent new visions outside of traditional channels of commerce.

Videogames for Humans, curated and introduced by Twine author and games theorist merritt kopas, puts Twine authors, literary writers, and games critics into conversation with one another’s work, reacting to, elaborating on, and being affected by the same. The result is an unprecedented kind of book about video games, one that will jump-start the discussions that will define the games culture of tomorrow.