Game mods are produced by gamers passionate enough to devote hundreds of hours of work to creating something that they believe the world will enjoy, or perhaps needs. What do games need? Why, this, of course.
A modder, specifically a chap by the name of ‘Trainwiz‘ (or “Pastaspace”), created this mod for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim late last year. It’s one of my most favourite things ever. This mod was created for no good reason and wasn’t outstandingly difficult to create. Far more complex mods exist for Skyrim, ranging from map expansions to graphics mods, but this video is on display here (I had to limit myself to just one video) because it shows the liberalism that modding can be approached with. There are few boundaries and anything from jaw dropping, heart wrenching expansions to Train-Dragons can be and is created by the community.
Communities (what a segue), are central to modding. Different online modding communities abound, though for Skyrim, Skyrim Nexus is bar far the most prominent. When creating content that can be as technical, complex and expansive as most mods, communities play a huge support role to modders. Troubleshooting, advice, feedback and the platform to communicate between modders is provided during production, and post-production the community sites serve as a distribution platform for content. Much as the name of Nexus implies, these websites become a central hub for everything relating to the community and the mods (Hong, 2013). A platform that simultaneously stimulates production and promotes consumption by and for it’s users; a wholly prosumer platform.
Responsibility for a successful modding community, though, is not solely the sign of good modders. The original developers and publishers of a game are equally responsible for successfult modding communities. Bethesda, the original developers of Skyrim are famous for their support of modding communities. Beyond simply allowing the game to be modded, Bethesda released a program to assist in modding, ‘The Creative Kit”. So cool. If you’re a regular reader (thanks again for your support, Mum), this would be ringing a bell. This industry support and, indeed, encouragement of modding communities is reflected in the “Make ARMA, Not War” program I mentioned in my previous blogs. Which, again, is outstandingly outstanding.
Unfortunately, though, it’s not all sunshine and fire breathing dragon trains. The latest two instalments in the Battlefield game franchise have been released without any mod support and visual modifications have already been met with bans and official warnings from the developers. This is in stark contrast to previous entries in Battlefield, which were widely celebrated for their mod-ability. Electronic Arts, the publisher of Battlefield, recently released the hyper-successful Titantfall, and when faced with questions about it’s possible mod-ability, responded “Technically, nothing is off the table. It’s just a question of priorities and time and whether or not we can get to it while working on the game as a whole.” (source) Doubt abounds, but I live in hope.
Regardless of the results for Titanfall (and my emotions as a result thereof), the general trend indicates that we are all looking at a greater, more open future as the games industry facilitates and nurtures 3rd party modability.
- Hong, R, 2013, “Game Modding, Prosumerism and Neoliberal Labor Practices”, International Journal of Communication, Vol 7, page 986
- Jenkins, H, 2006,From Serious Games to Serious Gaming, “Confessions of an Aca-fan”, Published 10/11/2006,Viewed 12/4/2014 http://henryjenkins.org/2006/11/from_serious_games_to_serious.html
- Lowe, K, “No Mods For Battlefield 4, DICE doesn’t want your hard work here”, ComplexGaming, Published 14/6/13, Viewed 12/4/14 http://www.complex.com/video-games/2013/06/no-mods-battlefield-4-dice
- Grayson, N, “Repawn On Titanfall PC Version, Modding, DLC”, Rock Paper Shotgun, Published 13/214, Accessed 12/4/14 http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/02/13/respawn-on-titanfalls-pc-version-modding-dlc/