Mods are generally separate to the offical games industry and, therefore, any IP involved; be it solely that of a video game or that of a trans-media narrative expressed in part by a commercial video game. That being, official endorsement of a mod by the creators and holders of tran-media narratives is rare, regardless of how detailed and congruous with the lore of a text that mod might be.
That doesn’t stop fans trying, though. Examples of mods that tie into or expand upon transmedia texts abound. For example, the mod Star Wars: Ascendancy (based on a game called Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion) is set in the star wars universe just prior to the battles on the ice planet hoth, which featured heavily in the 1980 Star Wars film, The Empire Strikes Back. The mod is incredibly detailed and beautifully reworked to depict the star wars universe, but lacks the official endorsement that would make the mod a permanent part of the Star Wars trans-media narrative. As one of it’s defining characteristics, Modding is non-commercial. The commercial powers that controll the Star Wars IP and narrative would not endorse a mod because it would be delivering it’s IP to another company (in this case the original developers/publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire).
Making a completely seperate video game that ties into a trans-media narrative is wholly easier, cheaper and less legally confusing. Star Wars, to use the example again, is a text that has taken advantage of this perfectly. Beyond the branded games such as Star Wars: Battlefront, which for the most part lack narrative tie in, games like the proposed 1313 (now cancelled in the Disney aquisition of LucasArts) would feature a transnarrative backstory for one of the universes’ most famous characters, Boba Fet.
Video Games have an increasing and diversifying role in transmedia narratives (Paul, 2010), but Video Game Mods, due to their core principles as non-commercial and fan-produced , can never achieve the same role. Regardless of how well a mod works into or expands upon a trans-media narrative, it can never be apart of that narrative.
- Schreier, J, 2014, ‘Before it was cancelled Star Wars 1313 was Going to Be about Boba Fet’, Kokatu Australia, published 5/4/14, viewed 7/5/2014
- Paul, J. 2010, “The path to transmedia”, Strategy, pp. 32.