In the very beginning, 70s and 80s era, due totechnological limitations, video games were so simple and straightforward in somany ways ( design, game mechanics) , that it was easy to spot a clone andaccuse it as a plagiarism. During that time though, many small game developmentcompanies were copying games for other systems and even managed to get awaywith this, as copyright system didn’t quite respect work of computer softwareuntil 1983.Today, games are so much more than just what they wereat the beginning. Every aspect of the videogames become more thoughtful and detailed- there may be complicated game play mechanics,HUD and UI design which determines how players interface with the most coresystems of a game, visual aesthetics, themes, music, sounds, narrative and characters.
Videogames split into so many genres, which were actually derived by widespread “plagiarism” of good elements fromprevious games to form an industry standard. Every genre has to start somewhere.If someone did not rip off a fighting game, would we ever have games likeStreet Fighter? But, thereare so many cases when even copies did better and were ChrisBateman, a game designer who has worked on fifty published game projects , hasthis to say about the case:”The fact of the matter is, game genres bytheir very nature become established because games borrow mechanics, structuralelements, and conventions from earlier games. To have a videogame genre is torecognise a recurrent pattern of plagiarism that draws upon the successes ofearlier games as its bedrock. This is a good thing for players: few but themost grizzled gamer hobbyists can face learning entirely original game rulesevery time they play, most prefer to play something that (in broad strokes, atleast) strongly resembles an earlier game they have enjoyed. It means they haveless to learn, and it increases the chance that they will enjoy the later game.
As he laterpoints out, “what would be considered plagiarism in other media is thebackbone and lifeblood of the videogame industry”. Still, much of the copying seems to go well beyondmerely taking ideas, gameplay mechanics or foundational elements. Often timesinvolving source code, artwork, sounds. And while specific assets from gameprojects can be protected, like character names and their designs, the actualgameplay is a lot harder to protect.
They way by which you interact with a gameor the features that it has can be hard to prove to be original.