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Why Teachers Need to Play Games

April 15, 2008

People teaching game design sometimes aren’t regular players of games. This becomes an issue particularly when one isn’t a regular player of non-digital games but has students make such games on a regular basis. This occurred to me recently when a group of students turned in a game that was practically identical to Scotland Yard. In their case, they had never played the game, and having worked with them for multiple quarters, I didn’t doubt them. However, it brought to mind something I’d never considered: pattern plagiarism. What if a group of students did this intentionally?

You can’t plagiarize a mechanic any more than you can plagiarize a word. However, imagine if you reskinned a game like Carcassonne or Notre Dame and turned it in, would the average teacher recognize it? Odds are that I would (not that I’m issuing a challenge here), but I play a lot of games, and what I haven’t covered, my super-geek students certainly have.

Anyway, it brings up an interesting point that profs should consider.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 15, 2008 8:45 pm

    And this is totally apart from the “if you’re teaching ’em, you should be playing ’em” argument.

  2. JCaskey permalink
    April 15, 2008 11:30 pm

    I like to think most game design students (at least the ones here) are gregarious enough to call people out, whether it’s intentional or not.

    That of course depends on students presenting their work to each other.

  3. April 17, 2008 10:57 am

    I wonder if other creative media have this problem. What do you do with an art student who copies the style of an obscure Renaissance painting, or a literature student who plagiarizes a lesser-known poet?

    For game design, at least, most of our students are taking the class because they WANT to design their own games. If you’re being given the creative freedom and opportunity to design your own game for class credit, why would you blow it by copying someone else’s design?

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