BrettSpiel is a blog about board game design, written by game designer Brett J. Gilbert.

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Quotables #010

Every designer’s dirty little secret is that they copy other designers’ work. They see work they like, and they imitate it. Rather cheekily, they call this inspiration.

Aaron Russell

Every picture painted owes more to other pictures painted before than it does to nature.

E.H. Gombrich

Both these quotes offer a slightly different take on that hoary old maxim ‘all art is theft’. And my point in repeating them is to highlight the difference between creativity and originality. It’s tough enough for the game designer to be creative. It’s far, far harder to be truly original.

Which, as an old boss use to say — and he said this sort of thing so frequently that most of us ended up hating him for it — is ‘an observation not a criticism’.

I recently opined that Colonia, the sparkling new release from Queen Games, seemed a little too familiar at first sight. Gorgeous, yes, but familiar. Lavishly creative, certainly, but essentially a roll-call of mechanisms, each of which would elicit a quiet nod of recognition from any self-respecting Eurogamer.

And with this year’s SPIEL now a fast-fading memory in the minds of many a gaming maven, there seems little concensus on what ‘the game of the show’ was, or indeed whether there even was one. And if that’s true, then it certainly wasn’t because there was some sort of collective failure of creativity — far from it! — but rather, I would suggest, that there was simply nothing genuinely original on show for the gamers to get their teeth into.

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

Albert Einstein

And I guess I could take Albert’s advice and fail to mention my sources, but I’d much rather point you all at the excellent and inspirational Quotes on Design instead! All art is indeed theft, and so is most blogging.

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