Nothing is original. Steal!

September 23, 2010

It's ok, really!

Today in Tweeterville Jordan Fehr linked to an article by independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch where he writes a set of “rules” for filmmakers (with the first one saying not to take them as rules, but more as “notes” to himself), wich I think can be equally applied to game making, or any creative process for that matter.

It’s a very interesting read with good advice that’s often overlooked. But the one part that struck me the most is this:

Rule #5: Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from—it’s where you take them to.”

I currently just finished Dependant and while I wait to get it sponsored I’m trying to work on the next thing and I’m having quite some trouble coming up with an idea I’m satisfied with. I keep trying to come up with something that’s awesome, smart, cool, fun, interesting and “original“, while throwing away any idea that resembles anything else. To say the least, I haven’t been satisfied with anything.

So I felt this advice came straight at me. As creators we shouldn’t try to create something “truly original”, since we’ll always be reflecting all our baggage of cultural knowledge. Instead we should try to use that and manipulate it into something personal.

And games-making guys and girls, pixelart platformers are nice but please “Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings (…)” and create new experiences! Thank you.

Read the full article on Jim Jarmusch’s Golden Rules at

*Image from here

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