How Imitation Inspires the Creative Process in Video Game Development

In his rebooted Everything Is a Remix series, Kirby Ferguson looks at how imitation propagates creativity. The first part of this rebooted series focused on music, while the second part was about expanding new ideas in film and television. The third part of the series examines how copying is a significant part of the creative process for video games.

We think of copying as being uncreative but copying is at the core of creativity and the core of learning we can’t introduce anything new until we’re fluent in the language of our domain and we do that by copying.

Everything is a Remix Video Games

Expanding on previous ideas from film, television, animation, and even other games is very prevalent in video game development, whether by design or by user mods. The ideas may be recycled, but new life is breathed into them in a new, modern way.

Mostly what video games copy from is video games. The history of video games is a chain of new games taking ideas from old games, transforming them and iterating on them or sometimes it’s a single designer iterating on his own ideas like Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto who created a series of hugely influential platform games. …Some games even allow the players themselves to modify the game mods are customized versions of games which can be shared with other players. Plenty of classic games began as mods.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.