Extra Credits and Egoraptor's Sequelitis are videos about game theory. Real good sources.
For the actual development bit, look into C++ and XNA programming. I'd advise you to stay away from "make your own game" type programs, since they're often gimped and it shows when you try to popularize or monetize your game.
There is this great webseries called Extra Credits that explains some fundamentals of game design(and Gaming in general), which could help him out in the projects he works on. also there is a forum for the series full of peeps who could ya out as well.
If he wants to develop his own games, he needs to learn to develop software in general. That's enough of a task to worry about for quite a while so I'd suggest just focusing on that. Avoid any "game specific" programming lessons, books, tutorials, whatever. Just learn to write good, solid, software. He should remember that there is a lot more to programming than just knowing a language, and a lot more to software development than just programming.
Once that's out of the way, he'll be in a position where he can learn the specifics of game programming, which are important and do need to be covered, but shouldn't really be approached without a platform of programming and development ability to build on. Learning to use OpenGL isn't going to be much use if you don't know how to design the overall architecture of the game, or how to use basic development tools like a debugger.
It kind of depends on the scope of what he wants to do. I taught myself how to make any number of relatively simple 2D games with a 10 dollar book and the internet. Obviously fancier and/or more specialized stuff is more expensive.
I would put it out there that I think, with the number of internet resources out there, most people can learn the basics of a programming language with a book or two and a whole bunch of hard work.
yeah I think the best thing for me to focus on is starting out simple and getting the basics learnt first but i'd also like to treat him to some sort of subscription or games program to try light a fire under him - games wise. so-to-speak
This doesn't fit into a Christmas present motif but, if you live in or near a largish city, go to Meetup.com and see if there's a game development related meetup group. I sort of live in the Middle of Nowhere, but there's an amazing monthly meetup not half an hour from my house. It has done better than literally anything else to spur me to get things done.
The trouble with buying something, is that a lot of development kits are free for amateurs . C#/XNA, Java, C++, GameMaker... basically everything I can think of. I think even the iOS development kit has a free version now. Maybe a book is a good way to go. Those things are EXPENSIVE!
ooh i'll be going on that site right after sending this comment then and haha i've noticed the books are quite expensive.. I even found myself looking into the 'for dummies' collection to try and find something cheap but no...
I'm currently working on my BS in Game Design and my school offers free access to Gnomon and DigitalTutors. They are excellent resources and sometimes I'd have to say that I learn more from them from class (don't get me wrong, I learn a lot from class; I get a lot out of my schooling). So I would definitely suggest a subscription to Gnomon or Digital Tutors.
Honestly, the best thing you could give him is a trip to the Game Developer's Conference. It's pretty spendy, but the information you learn there, as well as the networking opportunities are invaluable. It's actually run by industry professionals, so the information you get is usually more relevant that what you could find in a book or tutorial. It gives you a great look inside the industry and would let him decide if it really is something he wants to pursue.
I have a degree in Game Art and Design from Westwood Online, but everything I learned paled in comparison to what I got from the GDC. They also have archives of previous conference sessions that you can purchase if you can't afford the pass itself. Or you could have him apply to be a volunteer (which is what I did and it was an amazing experience). Everything you need to learn about it is here: [link]. I highly recommend anything they offer.
that sounds like an amazing experience and from what I've looked at on the site so far it definitely sounds like something to look in to - unfortunately i'm in the UK and haven't yet come across anything on the site that's in the uk ( although I may be wrong as I haven't done a thorough check yet) so it'd be quite a hefty price indeed to get to one of them
Gnomon workshop stuff, they have a lot of stuff on game development (mostly 3d modelling in Maya, 3DS Max ect along with concept art)
Check out conceptart.org, a fantastic forum, similar to DA but IMO it is a lot more professional. None of this "OMG UR PIC IZ SO KOOL!!!1 <3" bullshit... Serious critique and they will lead you to the right path for any form of artistic work.
Also, digitaltutors.com have tutorials on game design in an array of software. It costs ~$300 a year I think... We have a subscription via my uni.
Also check out the UDK (Unreal Development Kit) and Unity forums. You can download/buy the software to practice and use. UDK is free I believe, until you try and make money from the games. You can also download the full version of CryEngine 3 for non-commercial use (same engine used for the Crysis games).
What exactly does he want to do in game design? Characters, environments, assets, sound production, programming, concept art, script writing, story boarding... ect?
What software does he currently have?
Seriously though, this would be the best bet to start learning and be one hell of a gift! [link]
Thankyou SO much for all the advice and links I think i'll have to dig deep into my miserable bank account to afford anything more then a months subscription to a site but it actually looks REALLY good so thank you so much
Well he's not entirely sure what exactly he wants to go in to yet but has been looking at storyboarding and script writing or programming being the main interests of his.
Programming in particular is calling to him but he hasn't really done much of ANYTHING to do with it - its really a quite spontaneous epiphany as he's been a bit clueless as to what to do with his life for the past year. He's got such a good memory sometimes I swear it's almost photographic and he loves fiddling about with open world gaming programs and doing all sorts of different things that go completely over my head computer wise ( and I like to think i'm quite tech savvy )It's not a certain thing yet that he'll want to go into the industry as he hasn't really looked into it an AWFUL LOT yet but I thought if I gave him the push with all the right info and advice for the parts he's interested in then he can decide what it is - if any- he loves and can pursue more seriously
He is in a band otherwise though and so has also thought into sound production but I don't think he's that much of a fan of that idea as he wants to be more hands-on-deck
Yes, nothing in this industry comes cheap unfortunately. digitaltutors.com is a fantastic site, there is a trial period I believe, so maybe yourself and him can set up a trial account each to see if it's worthwhile.
I also have a mate in a band/studying sound production... and have friends working in industry doing so as well. It's VERY hard to get work for sound production; if we're talking about making the music. Sound engineering on the other hand has a lot more to offer in terms of work opportunities.
... I have a GREAT video somewhere on one of my external drives on story boarding, I'll look for it later and either give you the title... OR, if I'm feeling really generous I might even upload it onto YouTube and send you the link... That is if I can find it though.
And yes, ImagineFX is a great magazine! I get it eve now and then. It's a bit hit and miss some issues for my interests, I always thumb through them before I buy an issue.