Can I make a clone of a game purely for self-educational purposes?

Often, it can be hard to come up with video game ideas to test programming concepts on. One method a lot of game developers use to sharpen their skills it to create clones of games to learn more about the development process.

If you make a cloned game, though, what can you actually do with it?

The short answer here is nothing. As long as nobody knows that you’ve made this game for yourself, you are probably in the clear. It may still be copyright infringement, even if this is the extent of what you do. If you are going to take that risk, you should use these exercises for practice and no other reason beyond that. Note that Odin is not your law firm, and no lawyer would ever advise you to copy anything, ever.

That said, copying can be good for learning purposes. People do this in many different fields and industries – painters learn to paint by following the example of the classics and recreating those works, for example. Following the examples set by classics can help you find your own style, improve on your own techniques, discover more about your craft and help you discover your strengths and weaknesses.

However, the instant you put that piece of work on the Internet, show it to someone else (even a friend or a family member), or especially if you try to go commercial with your product – you increase the risk of being sued for copyright infringement – for which you could be liable for damages.