The pop-rock band Panic! at the Disco released a new video last week, and almost immediately, fans of the mobile game Monument Valley were giving it some serious side-eye.
This includes famous fans like Pete Wentz, bassist for Fall Out Boy:
There’s no denying the elegant, lush, optical-illusion-rich game has piqued the interest of many far outside the gaming world. It had a cameo in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and has inspired cosplay, fan art and printables.
But this video raised many eyebrows and a single question: When is an homage a rip-off?
The video’s director, whose professional name is Norton, is a fan of the game, for sure. “I first played it a year and a half ago, and it was just so cool,” he said in an interview with Re/code. “They did put the power of moving things in the hand of the user. To be able to manipulate that was great.”
But he also cited “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” and “Labyrinth” as inspiration, and their effects can certainly be seen in the Panic video.
For their part, UsTwo Games, the makers of Monument Valley, are more bemused than outraged. Neil McFarland, their Director of Games, told Re/code in an interview, “If they had checked in with us, we’d have said ‘no,’ but when you see it — how angry can we really be? We’re certainly not going to sue.”
He would have refused (and has done so when contacted by another band, one he won’t name) because “we want to craft things ourselves that use our work, promote the brand, promote the game. [But] in this case, it’s obviously inspired by, not lifted from.”
And he’d be calling his lawyers if Norton had crossed a certain boundary. The princess in the Panic video is a grown woman, dressed in a gray Greek-goddessy draped toga. “If Ida had been in there, in the white dress and wimple, it’d have been much different. … We definitely try to protect Ida.”
A previous instance of the game entering the larger pop-culture universe was okay with the company. When Season 3 of Netflix’s “House of Cards” wanted Frank Underwood to play the game and use it as a metaphor, “we made a special build that would only play that level over and over, for continuity,” he said. “That’s done really well for us, and we were honored to be included.”
It’d be hard to find another game that captures the imagination and tickles the arty-bone of quite so many folks. “We’ve produced something that has rippled out in the same way as a big movie … that it’s effective enough that people are echoing it, that’s a spooky thing for us to see.”
You can peep the video below:
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.