I never thought I would get into modding video games. A few years ago, the most experience I had experimenting with modding was downloading mods on my Xbox One for Skyrim. Now that I have a PC, I’ve been enjoying mods like never before. Modding is short for “modify” and it usually refers to alterations talented programmers and designers make to existing games. Mods are an important part of the world of gaming, more important than people acknowledge.
Mods allow creators to contribute to the games they love, whether they’re making cosmetic changes to the game’s graphics or altering gameplay. For the most part, mods are like free DLC that expands upon gameplay, adding quests and magic, altering graphics, fixing broken systems, and expanding on content already present in the game.
The first well-known mod was developed for the 1981 action-adventure game called Castle Wolfenstein. The mod turned all the game’s enemies into Smurfs. A decade later, Doom took the gaming world by storm. According to Andy Dyer from PC Gamer, “the founders of id Software, Tom Hall and John Carmack, were aware that fans of their previous game, Wolfenstein 3D, had attempted to make their own modifications to the game and, as a result, they decided to package Doom’s maps, sprites, and textures into a WAD file that was entirely separate from the main game engine. This allowed would-be designers to create their own levels.”
A coder named Minh Le created a mod for Half Life allowing players to join terrorism and counterterrorism factions. There were even mods for the 1981 game Donkey Kong, allowing gamers to play as the Lady (also known as Pauline) who would rescue Mario instead of the other way around. Fast forward to the year 2022, and mods are some of the most popular content in gaming besides the games themselves.
Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls: Skyrim was released in 2011 but continues to see a thriving community of gamers, thanks mostly to the thousands of mods that are added daily to the mod hub, the Nexus. My favorite Skyrim mod of all time is the Become A Bard mod, that allows your Skyrim character to play instruments and travel to inns to make money performing for the drunk locals. While most mods can only be downloaded on the PC, Bethesda works with modders and allows their content to be released on consoles.
The Sims 4 also continues to thrive in popularity thanks to mods like Wonderful Whims, Passionate Romance, Meaningful Stories, and Excessive Violence that add realism and additional gameplay to the world of the Sims. In fact, The Sims 4 was just added to the modding hub, CurseForge, which provides an extensive catalog of mods for gamers to enjoy.
Mods are wonderful, and quite frankly, modders deserve our respect. Mods allow gamers to revisit the games they love even if those games are a decade or more older. Mods bring enhanced graphics, fix broken gameplay, and add features some of us could only dream of. The existence of mods makes the gaming world feel a little less capitalistic. When massive gaming franchises like The Sims start charging for expansion packs that should be included in the base game, modders are there to balance the scales, carefully and lovingly adding content that is free for all to enjoy.
When I say mods are “free” they are for us to use, but they take time, energy, and resources to create. Most of the content creators making these mods are doing it because they love the game. There’s little to no expectation of monetary returns.
Sometimes modders even pick up the slack from game developers who release buggy, unfinished video games. Modders’ efforts should be recognized and celebrated because they give us gaming nerds the opportunity to experience the games we love in new and exciting ways. I’m always grateful to developers of video games because I love gaming, but recently I’ve been making sure to thank and highlight modders whenever I can. Modding opens up a whole new world of gameplay, and if you have a PC and want to try modding for the first time, it’s usually pretty easy. There are mods for anything you can imagine.
From the bottom of my nerdy heart, thank you modders for the work you do. The future of modding is an exciting one and I can’t wait to see what mods come out next for my favorite games.
What are your favorite mods? Let me know in the comments. For all things gaming and pop culture, check out my website. Stay nerdy!