Defining Plagiarism in Video Games

Plagiarism is one of those serious issues that has laid low a number of people who 'should know better'; over at Only a Game, the question of plagiarism in games is raised — what constitutes plagiarism? How do we define it? Is it even really an issue? Looking at some of the "match 3" games (Puzzle Quest and the earlier Bejeweled), as well as some other common threads, Chris Bateman has this to say:

The fact of the matter is, game genres by their very nature become established because games borrow mechanics, structural elements, and conventions from earlier games. To have a videogame genre is to recognise a recurrent pattern of plagiarism that draws upon the successes of earlier games as its bedrock. This is a good thing for players: few but the most grizzled gamer hobbyists can face learning entirely original game rules every time they play, most prefer to play something that (in broad strokes, at least) strongly resembles an earlier game they have enjoyed. It means they have less to learn, and it increases the chance that they will enjoy the later game.

As he later points out, "what would be considered plagiarism in other media is the backbone and lifeblood of the videogame industry" — clearly that's not such a bad thing, but it does make for some wild accusations at times.

Plagiarism in Videogames? [Only a Game]


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