How Modders Affect the Lifespan of Video Games


A game modder hard at work.

Josh Akers, Contributor

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Many legendary video game titles over the years have remained continuously popular over the years in spite of their game engines and gameplay being incredibly outdated or fossil-like. That Bethesda Softworks’ infamous, 26-year-old Elder Scrolls series has retained its large and supportive playerbase for as long as it has is almost unheard of in the gaming world. Normally, when games finish their run and become outdated, their playerbases fall apart or decay, but certain games–those known to withstand the trials and tribulations of the gaming market–have made their mark on the world so deeply that they seem impossible to uproot. These exceptionally long-lived and continually-thriving games typically have one thing in common: mods.

Mods are user-generated, free downloadable content that can be used to add (or subtract) from a game in a sense that players will enjoy. For nearly a decade now, hundreds of exceptionally talented modders have worked unanimously to bring new content to Stellaris, The Sims, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout: New Vegas, Fallout 3, Fallout 4 and many more long-lived gaming titles.

Things like brand new textures in 4K resolutions, better in-game models, and special lighting mods called ENBs are just a few of the insanely-detailed options you can find on websites like the well-known and highly-preferred Truly, the online modding communities for certain video games make a brand-new mod browser feel like they’re sifting through fields of vast treasures and gold-plated wares. You may find a mod that brightens the world of your game considerably, a mod that adds a sense of humor for the player to enjoy, or a mod that creates a significant new story arch to the plot of your game. When the right people come together, they can produce almost anything with their talent.

Yet the amazement of those who spend their valuable time modding doesn’t end there. Some games can directly attribute their success to modding. Games like Fallout 4, which is known as one of the less-impressive games in the Fallout series, has thrived due to the dedicated and hard-working community of online modders willing to produce content that adds to the fun or enjoyment of the game. Some of the most talented modders have even been offered jobs for their game-development skills and their ability to take a decades-old game engine and make an incredibly detailed world around it. Certainly, such work is not easy, as most game developers are heavily rushed and sometimes underpaid for their coding skills behind the screen. 

In short, modding communities over the decades have made sacrifices and endured hardships to recreate the world of their favorite games in the way they envision them. Such influence, skill and tech-savviness doesn’t just fall out of the sky; it comes with years of study and a hard learning process. Many gamers and video game developers should be grateful that such a loyalty-sworn and profound group of people exist in the world.