Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Game Cloning.

When it comes to cloning video games I am firmly against it, just as I think that censorship and piracy are bad things that we can do without. But bad things do exist, such is a basic premise of life.

But why is cloning a video game wrong? Here is the fun part, legally it isn’t, morally I’m aligning a cloner somewhere between a thief and a rapist. First it isn’t legally wrong due to the fact that cloners steal the idea behind a game, and replicate it in a format using different code. If they ripped off the code then you would have a legal case. Or if you patented some software technique in it and they used it you could sue. But I’m against software patenting, but that’s for another day.

Secondly, why I equate them to somewhere between a thief and a rapist. Some might say being a thief isn’t so bad. I disagree. If I were to rob the largest bank in America, they would have to call in their loans, and when people can’t pay then there is an economic collapse, and I don’t need to paint the rest of the picture. The rapist equation is due to the forceful fucking someone over, in a painful and traumatic way. Say there are some indie devs working their asses off on an awesome game. They have a free public alpha, and are working on a final product. Now if someone were to clone their alpha and distribute it on a platform that the devs were targeting then what? Months of hard work lost. Any reasonable person would seek a way to right this situation. You would go to the police if a thief had entered your house and stole your possessions.

And while I may equate cloning a video game to certain things, cloning is certainly different. It is something so unique that most legal minds can’t quantify it. But game developers can. A can developer can look at a game and say: “Hey I see the influence of minesweeper in this game but I really like how they progressed on the idea.” At the same time a game dev can look at a game and say: “Wait that’s just solitaire with a different skin.”

See drawing inspiration or improving on a concept isn’t cloning since it progresses the concept or genre. For instance Half Life and Quake were built in the same engine, yet they are completely different games. And if someone made a game for xbox called kaloh, about a guy who wears a blue power suit and fights on a doughnut world, Microsoft would have a) never let them publish the game, and b) sued their asses off.

So how do we stop game cloning? Unfortunately we can’t. Douches will be douches; it’s like trying to stop crime. But when a criminal act is committed there is action taken against the aggressor and recompense for the victim. What we need is legislature that protects the creative rights of the creator that they may lodge a complaint, which is examined by notable and respectable game developers who can say “Yes this is a clone”.  Just because we currently lack the legal system to deal with clones people may condone them.

So now we just hope that people shall start to realise that clones are bad. That we need legislature against it, and while they are tinkering with the laws can they please get rid of software patents.

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