“Ideas are the only real currency”

Gamasutra sister site Game Career Guide recently posted advice on safeguarding your ideas, and the internets would probably be a nicer place if more people read some of that advice and took it to heart;

“It really is important to make sure all our readers know upfront that one idea isn’t worth diddley-doddley, as Ned Flanders would say. One idea is nothing. Even killer ideas are a dime a dozen.”

Now, while I certainly recognize that plagiarism is frequently occurring out there, I would argue that, as Edison said, invention is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration. Making games is hard work and anyone with some experience in design will tell you that it’s very, very rare to get it right the first time. In order to make something that’s actually enjoyable, you need to evaluate it, refine it by adding and detracting things, balance conditions and you’re still not guaranteed to have something more than what amounted to a “good idea on paper, but…”

“…He talks at one point about trying to sell a game to a publisher by explaining the idea to the executives verbally and on paper, which failed. He went back to his team and told them they would have to try again, but instead of showing documents, they would show a trailer, a visual representation of the game they wanted to make. And that’s how they sold the idea.”

Publishers frequently get demonized for turning down original concepts by startups, and while there may be some merit to this argument there’s also a reason selling something as a startup is more difficult: you have to prove that you’re capable of going the distance.

I won’t neglect that a good, simple-to-implement idea can make or break a game, but even if plagiarism is bad form I would consider it infinitely worse to withhold a good idea from the world just because you can’t possibly profit from it yourself.

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Posted on Oct 09/07 by Saint and filed under General game development, Intellectual Property | No Comments »