A Videogame MBA In 12 Books

When I was 31, I enrolled in an MBA program at one of the Netherlands top business schools to learn more about executive level management. It was an incredibly rewarding experience in more ways than one, which I will eventually share more about.

But if I’m honest, I would say that about 90% of the knowledge I gained there you could also get from reading books.

So, I’ve put together a list of books comprising a 12-month personal MBA, tailored to executives in the videogames industry.

You’ll read one book per month for a year, but fast readers should feel free to double-time it and finish the list in 6 months. Around 30 minutes of reading a day should get you there.

Here are the subjects you’ll cover:

  • Entrepreneurship
  • Strategy
  • Leadership
  • Production
  • Organizational health
  • Operations
  • Company performance
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Conscious leadership
  • Negotiation
  • Communication

Let’s get into it!

Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Subject: Entrepreneurship

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you need to create a unique and valuable product that fills a gap in the market. This also goes for entertainment products like games: don’t just copy what’s already been done; aim to create something new and innovative.

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Understanding Michael Porter by Joan Magretta

Subject: Strategy

Porter is the OG strategy guru. His Five Forces Model will help you understand the competitive landscape of any industry, and the concept of competitive advantage is fundamental to running a business.

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Turn The Ship Around! by L. David Marquet

Subject: Leadership

A great leader empowers their team to take ownership and make decisions. By giving clear guidance and fostering a culture of initiative, you can create a high-performing team.

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The Game Production Toolbox by Heather Maxwell Chandler

Subject: Production management

Managing game development requires a unique set of tools and processes, and anyone in an executive role should know at least the basics. This book covers the full game development life cycle, from concept to post-launch support.

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The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

Subject: Organizational health

Building a healthy company should be your top priority. Do so by building a cohesive leadership team, creating clarity around the organization’s values and strategy, communicating that clarity throughout the organization, and reinforcing it through performance management systems.

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The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt

Subject: Operations management

Written as a novel, The Goal nevertheless contains key insights on the core concepts of operations management, like bottlenecks and the Theory of Constraints. Mandatory reading for any manager.

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Financial Intelligence for Entrepreneurs by Karen Berman and Joe Knight

Subject: Finance

Every executive should have at least a fundamental understanding of finance, and be able to read a P&L statement and balance sheet. This book’ll get you there.

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Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Subject: Marketing

This book explores the elements that make messages stick better in our minds. To create a memorable and effective marketing message, use the SUCCESs framework: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories.

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The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, and Kaley Klemp

Subject: Conscious leadership

Conscious leadership means being aware of your own thoughts, feelings, and actions, as well as those of your team. By practicing mindfulness, curiosity, and vulnerability, you can create a culture of trust and growth.

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Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury

Subject: Negotiation

Many elements of business require some form of negotiation: getting investors, signing a publisher, hiring new employees. Negotiation is about finding a solution that meets the needs of all parties. This book gives you the tools to do so.

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Good to Great by Jim Collins

Subject: Company performance

To take your company from good to great, you need to focus on building a strong foundation with disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action. This book provides a framework for achieving long-term success.

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Radical Candor by Kim Scott

Subject: Communication

Effective communication requires a balance between caring personally and challenging directly. By giving honest feedback in a constructive way, you can build stronger relationships and achieve better results.

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BONUS: when shit goes wrong…

Realize you’re not the first to experience this, and you won’t be the last. The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz details many of the painful situations you can and will run into as an entrepreneur, with helpful suggestions for how to manage them.

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