4.0/Games 3d printing and functional content

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Games and Functional Content


The purpose of this page is to collect thoughts on issues that affect games and projects that span the domains of cultural and functional/software works. There are actually quite a few categories of works that cross this domain, but games, as creative works that *by necessity* combine code and artwork together, perhaps expose and encounter some of these issues the most clearly. However games are not the only area that contain this overlap; for example, 3d printing is an emerging medium where the line between funtional and cultural is either blurred or interwoven. It's likely that as the spaces of free software and free culture (ideally) grow, we'll continue to see more and more examples of this overlap.

Most of this wiki page will involve issues of the code/functional and cultural works overlap, but some bits at the end will cover some other issues raised by speaking with members of the free software gaming community.


Background on separation of functional/software and cultural layers

As further background, traditionally we've held a fairly clear division between the free culture and free software spaces. This division is partly because it's a useful distinction, and partly a historic one. It looks something like:

  | CONTENT  |
  |   CODE   |

In a game context, content might be art, music, story, plain character descriptions. Code would be the game engine, game scripting, etc.

In a free-as-in-freedom type environment the former would be under free culture and the user freedom respecting subset of Creative Commons licenses, and code would be free software licenses such as MIT/BSD or the GPL.

One of the other results of this (licensing) division though is that you can also have one half of this layer be proprietary and the other be free-as-in-freedom. So, for example, the first person shooter Quake was released under the GPL but the game content was kept proprietary. Likewise, it's possible that someone could have a game whose assets were released completely as free cultural works but the software wasn't; this hasn't seemed to have happened (but some artists have expressed concern about it). But outside of games, play CC licensed content in proprietary media players or view them in proprietary browsers all the time.

  |       |scripted||
  +-------| level  |+
  |CODE   '--------'|
  |                 |

GPL compatibility

Before we

For a long time,