Sometimes, modding a game can turn out to be a dream come true, and sometimes, it can be a total nightmare. So why spend so much time doing it in the first place? Let’s explore the joys of breaking something to make it even better.
When I first joined the Game Informer team, I immediately pitched my Mod Corner vertical because it’s something I’ve been very passionate about through the years. While I have made a few mods here and there myself in the past, I’m mostly just someone that enjoys utilizing the amazing creations that come out of this particular community. For those unfamiliar, the modding community is massive and filled with passionate fans that love to tinker with the inner workings of some of our favorite games. From total recreations to small little comedic gags, the mod microcosm is a world of its own, and it’s a world that has offered me another layer of comfort and happiness within the realm of gaming that I cherish more than I can convey.
I get a common question regarding my column: “Why modding, why not just enjoy the game?” It’s not about non-enjoyment. Not always. Sometimes, sure, there are mods out there that have the purpose of correcting neglected design aspects, most commonly seen in the Skyrim and Dragon Age modding communities, but that’s just one niche of a much bigger network. Sometimes, it’s the ultimate tribute to a beloved adventure. A good analogy that I can think of is this: When you were a kid, did you ever take apart a favorite toy to see its inner workings? To better understand it? Enjoy previously undiscovered aspects of said toy? It’s the same thing! To love a game is to understand and resonate with it. Mods take that love and exploration even further, tinkering with the virtual world itself and adding a piece of yourself to the mix.
As you’ve probably gleaned from seeing all the Mass Effect pieces I write, I have no problem replaying an adventure if it’s the right fit for me. That being said, the ability to mod creates an opportunity to make a replay session feel fresh and brand new. This can be seen with total conversion mods that are currently in the works, like Skywind. It can also be seen with already available options that add much-needed comedy to the Fallout series’ Wasteland. Modding isn’t about eschewing the creative vision of studios; it’s about appreciating, understanding, and, ultimately, contributing to that vision.
Sure, there are times where I may have gone a little overboard in the past with certain mods, like applying over one hundred mods to a new Morrowind playthrough. And sometimes that makes me lose all of my progress and makes me want to chuck my keyboard across the room, but there’s an element of exploration that makes the good far outweigh the bad. There are even moments where the quest for the perfect mod combination almost offers the same thrill of going down a rabbit hole of learning something new. It’s exciting, it’s unknown, and you never know where you are going to land. That exhilaration felt when discovering something new and something worth digging deep into is the same feeling I get when all of those little mod pieces fit together to make the perfect picture. Sometimes it’s a pain in the butt, but more times than not, the payoff is more than worth it.
One of my favorite mods that I go for are the simple retexture ones that alter my character’s appearance. Whether that means new hairstyles for my Commander Shepard or creating an entirely new person like in games such as Cyberpunk 2077, making small changes like that helps the immersion factor. I can now suddenly create a character that looks exactly like me. Or, I can create one that looks nothing like me to further the fantasy. That’s the beauty of modding: the choice is yours! This is taking the power of gaming and tailoring it to the player’s whims. It’s about reconstruction, not destruction. It’s about birthing new experiences or providing a reason to relive previous journeys. It’s the hero you want to be; it’s creating the joke when you want to laugh. It’s about dedication and admiration surrounding the craft of game design. It’s so much more than just those NSFW mods out there. Numerous incredible mod creators do this work for free because of their love of games. And that’s why I do Mod Corner. It’s an homage to those that do so much to make gaming even better, and it’s a way for me to share some of the mods that have enriched my own gaming experiences with our wonderful community.
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