Katzenbach, Herweg and Van Roessel (2016)
|Katzenbach, Herweg and Van Roessel (2016)|
|Title:||Copies, Clones, and Genre Building: Discourses on Imitation and Innovation in Digital Games|
|Author(s):||Christian Katzenbach, Sarah Herweg, Lies Van Roessel|
|Citation:||Katzenbach, C., Herweg, S. and Van Roessel, L. Copies, Clones, and Genre Building: Discourses on Imitation and Innovation in Digital Games. International Journal of Communication 10 (2016), 838-859|
|Key Related Studies:|
|About the Data|
|Data Description:||Data was generated by searching articles from Gamasutra which were tagged with the keywords “ridiculous fishing” and “ninja fishing”. The resulting seven articles and 247 comments were then scanned for discussions on the relationship between inspiration and imitation, resulting in 193 statements for analysis.|
|Data Type:||Primary data|
|Secondary Data Sources:|
|Data Collection Methods:|
|Data Analysis Methods:|
|Cross Country Study?:||No|
|Government or policy study?:||No|
|Time Period(s) of Collection:|
This article addresses the tension between innovation and imitation in the games industry based on a case study on a cloning conflict. Developing new games necessarily involves adopting existing elements, but recent disputes centering on alleged copying have gained prominence. What are the criteria to delineate legitimate inspiration from cloning? Given the ambiguous copyright situation, the legitimacy of imitation is contested. Drawing on discursive institutionalism, we investigate professionals’ discussions around an alleged cloning case. We find that imitation is accepted practice in the industry. Originality can involve making small adjustments to existing games, but practitioners condemn wholesale copying of games. The article suggests that, even beyond the games sector, imitation is a necessary part of innovation. Discourses are important in governing innovation practices in creative sectors.
Main Results of the Study
• There is a distinction between perceptions of imitation where this relates to copying of individual game mechanics vs. “wholesale” copying or “reskinning” of a game. For the former, this is generally regarded as acceptable practice, and considered necessary for innovation. Perceptions of the latter are more hostile, even where it may be difficult to prove copyright infringement. Determining where these aspects begin and end can be particularly difficult with e.g. indie games, which have limited mechanics (such as the case with Ridiculous Fishing and Ninja Fishing).
• Emphasis on moral rights, particularly for attribution for game design inspiration, is considered important within the community. This can extend to requesting permission from original creators before remixing or adapting.
• Overall, commentators believe it should be the duty of the community to regulate unauthorised copying as opposed to introducing more formal legal protection.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Whilst no policy implications are stated directly by the authors, their approach of analysing the games industry as a “negative space” results in the conclusion that community standards may be a more appropriate form of regulation for this sector. This applies particularly in the respect of determining the boundaries of imitation or inspiration in game design.