Jesse Schell on Ideas in Games

Do Not Covet Your Ideas

Jesse Schell goes into some depth on a subject that I’ve long believed in: it’s better to tell other people your ideas than worrying about having them stolen. In bullet points, the reasons for this are:

  1. No one has time to steal your idea
  2. Even IF someone did steal your idea, by the time they were done working on it, it would be so different as to be unrecognizable
  3. Zynga is not interested in stealing unproven ideas, they only seem interested in stealing proven moneymaking ideas
  4. More and more, indies are realizing that the best way for them to build a rep is to get their games out there, even if they just give them away for free

The first and second points are the main ones I’ve always used when people are very keen to emphasis that if I tell them my idea then they won’t steal it. Basically, with (1) then the only people likely to steal the idea are probably so devoid of imagination that they won’t be able to follow through with it. Which leads to (2): the idea is so early stage that there’s more to solve than has been solved already. It’s like having an idea for a novel and then thinking writing it will be the easy part.

As a corollary, I don’t have a great deal of time for people who are over-protective of their ideas and refuse to talk about them (especially if they’re actively looking for you to be involved in their project… yes, it happens). If someone has such a paucity of ideas that the only one they have seems so valuable to them, then they’re probably not as creative as they think.

Perhaps there are one or two ideas a decade that are a) brilliant and b) easily copyable, oh and c) need no further development, but I can’t think of any. Or maybe I’ll just tell you once you sign an NDA, huh?

Read Jesse Schell’s full article: Thou Shalt Not Covet.

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