In Julian Kucklich’s article Precaurious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry he discusses the viewpoints of both the game manufacturers and modders pertaining to the issue of game modifications and the rights to the associated financial gains. When modifications were first introduced game producers and modders alike could not foresee the magnitude of the opportunities.
In recent history games such as Skyrim and Fallout have revitalized the ongoing argument as to whom has the rights to said mods and the product derived. From the modders viewpoint, mods are created to celebrate an individual’s passion for a game and thus are intended to be free to use. Mods add to a games value by offering a vast library of content that is player produced and comes at no extra cost. Mods are created with no monetary or time cost to the game manufacturer yet they add to the commercial value of the game. The creation of mods does come with a cost to the modder and is an investment of time and effort. The labour involved is not compensated which is essentially free labour for the game developers to take advantage of. The limitations of mods are undefined and as such a vast reservoir of new ideas and creative opportunities are free to be explored. As stated in the article, modders are the game developers of tomorrow and/or their ideas influence the games of tomorrow. According to Kucklich, modders are the producers of the very products that they consume. From the game manufacturer’s viewpoint, mods are extensions derived from an original piece of work and are therefore property of the manufacturer. As stated before, mods add great value to a game however they are valuable in the context of the initial game. The mods are not independent because they are rooted in the essence of the game. Although mods can altogether be different from the original game they operate on the originals engines, graphics and community.
The risk of producing a mod is miniscule in comparison to that of a companies’ risk in producing a game but much of the risk on the modder’s end is the legal ramifications enforced by the companies behind the games. Modders are beneficial to both the gaming community and game producers and will be integral to the future of gaming. Ultimately both parties have the rights to their works but a mutually beneficial relationship is demanded.
Kucklich, Julian. “Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry.” The Fibreculture Journal (2005).