I’ve been chatting on FrontlineGamer’s blog about some mudslinging that’s been going on about a new game, and it brings up the old chestnut about whether you can copyright game mechanics or not. That and the related notion that there’s nothing new in gaming, just reworkings of existing mechanics. I’m working up to a much longer ramble about this, but for the moment just thought I’d put a couple of ideas out there.
Firstly, as games tend to model the same thing over and over (combat, movement, etc) it’s not surprising that different people come up with the same or very similar ways of doing things. It is perfectly possible to develop a nearly identical rule without ever having any cross-pollination between the developers. Seen it done several times. Done it myself. In a legal sense, the first out the door is the one that has the legal protection, but only (as I understand it) if that idea is non-obvious and unique. Is that fair?
Secondly, if there really aren’t any new mechanics to be had (and that’s a fairly big if), can anybody claim copyright or ownership? Should they be able to?
I know what I think. What’s your view?