Steal more ideas

Stealing, copying, inspiration…. whatever.

It has been famously quoted, “bad artists copy; good artists steal”, meaning that a good artist can truly make a work that inspires them their own. I would argue you don’t even have to be that talented to steal — as long as you have the passion and put in the effort to steal something thoroughly, it will become yours.

I have long experience in graphic design, especially with t-shirts. When I started, I was reluctant to to do anything that showed I was inspired by another artist. But once I got more experience and realized the work that inspired me was originally inspired by other works by other artists, I stole more freely.

I was surprised to discover that if I let the inspiration be part of me — really understood and appreciated it — then I could add my own flavor and the final result was often so different from the original that people would be surprised what my inspiration was.

That is what you want to do with game design. Don’t just take a game you like and change the artwork and a few rules. Absorb the game and mix it with your unique concepts, ideas, and preferences. Put your heart and hard work into it and make it truly yours.

What work has inspired you that you are reluctant to “copy”? How could you truly steal it?

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2 thoughts on “Steal more ideas”

  1. As a designer I fully appreciate this post. Many of my ideas come from games I’ve played that I’ve enjoyed but have thought “but what if __________”. If it’s something small we make it a homebrew rule (which works because I play with the same folks) and just make our own version of the game. But if the changes I’d make are material or there are enough of them my brain starts going down a different path and inevitably a new page is created in my notebook with all the ideas I have on how I could create a game like Game X. Maybe it becomes something fruitful, maybe not.

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