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Copies, Clones and Genre Building. Discourses on Imitation and Innovation in Digital Games

Author: Katzenbach, C., Herweg, S., & van Roessel, L.
Published in: International Journal of Communication, 10, 838-859
Year: 2016
Type: Academic articles

This article addresses the tension between innovation and imitation in the games industry based on a case study on a cloning conflict. Developing new games necessarily involves adopting existing elements, but in recent times, disputes centering on alleged copying have gained prominence. What are the criteria to delineate legitimate inspiration from cloning? Given the ambiguous copyright situation, the legitimacy of imitation is contested. Drawing on discursive institutionalism, we investigate professionals’ discussions around an alleged cloning case. Our findings show that imitation is accepted practice in the industry. Originality can involve making small adjustments to existing games, but practitioners condemn wholesale copying of games. The article suggests that, even beyond the games sector, imitation is a necessary part of innovation. Discourses are important in governing innovation practices in creative sectors.

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Lies van Roessel

Former Researcher: The evolving digital society

Sarah Herweg

Former Student Assistant: Internet Policy and Governance

Christian Katzenbach, Prof. Dr.

Associated researcher: The evolving digital society

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