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Verizian avatar 11:04 AM on 11.08.2011
Drawing the line on new ideas
I really enjoyed this article, and I've been meaning to put down some of my own thoughts

http://www.destructoid.com/the-art-of-copying-a-videogame-213969.phtml

I was pushed to finally write it when I was looking up Bejeweled and I found this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shariki

Wikipedia very casually describes Shariki's relationship with other puzzle games as follows

"Shariki proved to be a very influential game and eventually many games that closely matched its mechanics arose"
These are the games

Bejeweled



Jewel Quest



Puzzle Quest



Aurora Feint



I only know Bejeweled well enough to remark on it, so I won't discuss the other games. In the case of Bejeweled, PopCap should not be allowed to legally distribute their game. Bejeweled has become a household name in gaming, selling more than 75 million copies and being downloaded more than half a billion times. PopCap doesn't deserve that success, though; Eugene Alemzhin, the creator of Shariki, does.

Games should be copyrighted to the point of their individual game mechanics. Now the obvious problem brought up in the article rears its head again. What constitutes copying an idea? Apparently, in copyright law this is known as the Idea-Expression debate
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idea-expression_divide
Basically, the law says that you can't copyright an idea, just the expression of that idea. I think focusing on the mechanics of the game is easier. If we were to try and enforce the aesthetic, games could plagiarize the other titles and still stay within the bounds of legality. Individual game mechanics are easier to quantify and identify. In the world of smaller puzzle titles, I think it's a distinction that can be made and the law should protect developers of these games.

I think it's a much bigger debate when you make the games even a little more complex. Is GTA's open-world sandbox gaming something that can be copyrighted? How about Angry Birds' physics-based gameplay?

What are the criteria? Which game came first? Well in that case GTA is by no means entitled.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GTA_Clone#Origin
Is it about how you implement it? Then no one can accuse Angry Birds of ripping off Artillery games, because their version is implemented differently.
Honestly, outside of examples of a very basic game concept, I don't know what the right approach is to copyright. And sometimes a game can build on an earlier concept to become much more fun to play. I think if a developer comes up with a good idea, he/she should copyright it as soon as possible, and other developers should consider paying royalties if they feel their game takes too much from another title. I love the idea of paying tribute, but maybe paying tribute should go even farther than that.

The debate about game copyright opens up into a much larger debate about originality in creative media, so there's a lot to discuss. I'd love to hear your input

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