On this weeks Board Game Breakfast the question was posed if a designer needs to credit the game or mechanic they used to inspire or build their own game. Jason’s answer annoyed me enough that I am going to climb up on my soap box and air my grievances.
What exactly is accomplished by giving credit to other games that have provided inspiration? As a designer that is new to the industry and the hobby, I have no idea who the first person was to use a certain mechanic I incorporate into one of my designs. Now you are telling me that I need, maybe not need, but you want me to give credit to a previous game or designer from how many years ago? How many different games has this particular mechanic been used? Do you want me to look up all the games that have used said mechanic? You want me to spend the time looking up all this information? Do you know how long it already to takes to design a game and you want me to add this extra research on top? Maybe you are not looking for all the games that have used a particular mechanic, just the one I played that inspired me to try something out with one of my designs? how do I know that designer did not take the idea I am using from another different game, then I am in a position of giving credit to the wrong person.
What about designers or companies that try to pass off ideas as their own? Call them out! There are a great many places for gamers to state their opinions about games and if you think a company is trying to pass off their game as unique and it clearly isn’t, call them out. If the ripped off mechanic is not good enough to replace the original, say so, and people will be more informed and rather than buy the rip off, they can buy the original if they want to. If the new game has made enough of a change to the old mechanic, people will buy the new game if it is better or different enough to qualify as a different game.
I am passionate about this particular subject because game design is a labor of love. It is time consuming and the rewards for basically everyone are minimal, financially speaking.(The rewards are huge in terms of creative outlet but lets be honest, we would all like to make a little bit of cash from our designs) Then you go and tell me that I need to spend more time looking up other games from the past that have used the same mechanic? No. Now, I am not saying that plagiarizing a game is ok, it isn’t. But my job s a designer is to make my games unique and fun and I am spending the time to make the unique and fun. Yes, my inspiration comes from other games but the games you play are made better because I spend the time making them fun and unique, rather than worry about giving credit to a game or person that I am not even sure is the correct person to give credit to.