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What are game modifications and what is their future?

The gaming industry is ever-expanding in the 21st century, with countless new opportunities to offer in terms of genre and new systems that can be utilized through virtual reality. All of this is done to make gaming more exciting and accessible for the players, but with that, there is also a desire to have more control over one’s gaming experience. The prospect of changing one’s gaming space to one’s liking, be it by adding some visual boons or large-scale additions with new storylines to experience and new places to see, is alluring. While game developers often try to enhance players’ experience with DLCs, sometimes, it is not enough.


This is where the process of gaming modification comes in, or modding for short. This is a practice that has become all the more popular in the world of gaming, expanding onto both single-player and online games. This article covers the basics of modding and how it is applied in gaming, though there is much depth to the practice. It constitutes the fans of a particular game or series taking matters into their own hands and bringing some changes to the game’s code, modifying it, and, if they want, sharing it with others via various mod archives for different platforms. Initially mostly confined to PCs, the modifications for specific games have also become available on consoles.


Modding could be rather varied in all its forms and showings, as when people make the content to their heart’s desire, only imagination and one’s skills are the limit. They could be a slight visual modification, for example refining a character model in an older game to make it look up to date or better in gee real, or they could be major. When it comes to games such as “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim” or “Fallout” series, there are extensive mods that include new landscapes and territories, coupled with novel characters, quests, and storylines the player can experience. The variety in scale is awe-inspiring, with there being mods that could be rightfully called their games, often created with notoriously high quality on par with the games themselves.


What distinguishes mods from games or DLCs is that volunteers who are unaffiliated with gaming companies often do them. They make projects out of their passion and desire to enhance their favorite games. On the one hand, this means that they are interested in the project enough to put their effort into it for free, meaning that all people who choose to work on mods are passionate and capable of creating exciting content. On the other hand, this also means there is less incentive for the mod creators to work regularly as they also have to balance this hobby with work and personal life, which may result in the process of mod development needing to be faster. They might also be doing it for other reasons, such as creating a portfolio for themselves to work in gaming companies, even though overall, the incentive to focus on personal gain rather than the project itself is low.


While large-scale mods are not as common as minor edits, the ones that reach the point of release often become very notable in their respective communities. For example, “Minecraft” has mods like “Twilight Forest” or “Divine RPG,” which include many new assets and elements. This ends up with it being just as much, if not more, than in the original games, and combined with special mod collections one can install simultaneously, the game might become downright unrecognizable. Another and perhaps the most ambitious example is the mod collection of “Beyond Skyrim.” This is a large-scale mod for the game “Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim,” which seeks to realize the rest of the in-universe continent as accessible in the game, with each province being assigned a team. 


Beyond Skyrim goes as far as starting back as far as Skyrim’s release, 2011, when the idea first began to spring, and the teams were getting gathered around the topic. It is a huge undertaking, and the fact that after more than a decade, the projects are still in a constant state of recruiting more people is a testament to their passion and participation. They often take part in modcon, an event that serves as a showcase to display some of their recent achievements. This fact that the event exists shows how major the modding community became, with Skyrim having one of the most dedicated ones. Whether the project reaches its proper release due to how much has to be completed is anyone’s guess, but the most impressive piece of content that Beyond Skyrim has already released has to be “Skyrim: Bruma,” which is a pre-release demo for one of the largest projects under the umbrella, “Beyond Skyrim: Cyrodiil.” It is a unique project that contains a zone larger than the one in the official DLC released for Skyrim. It allows the continent’s heartlands and adds new city, settlements, and dungeons. It includes new quests, and what is especially notable about this mod is the presence of voice acting for all new characters and the entire original musical compositions made by dedicated fans. Bruma is a display of how serious and extensive the project has gotten and highlights its immense potential.


What are the prospects for modding with the current developments it has? Well, it is safe to assume that it will only grow more popular with time and garner more appreciation. With mods coming to consoles, a new audience will be open to the experience, increasing the demand for quality mods. Conversely, more people will be drawn to make their mods due to the increased accessibility of it. Mod developers for Skyrim formed a server by the name of “Arcane University” where people would be taught the basics of modding on different fronts, be it design, writing, or voice acting.


Overall, the modding industry has seen a surge in popularity and reach in the last few years. Almost every popular game has a slew of mods created for it, and in some cases, like with “Minecraft” or “Skyrim,” installing at least some basic mods like shaders and graphic updates has become almost a necessity to have the best possible visual experience. With how wide-reaching mods are, it is also clear that more people will attempt to work on them and, thus, eventually get themselves into game development, which may yet bring new modders into the fold.

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