Convergence Culture and the rise of the Mod(ification)

At one point or another we have all felt that whatever were watching could be improved had the creators changed one little thing. I’m looking at you Doug Lima and what you did to Edge of Tomorrow, that ending was horrible and you know it. It doesn’t matter if you love or hate whatever you’re reading, watching or interacting with, there has always been a point where you felt like the creator took the wrong path and gave you something you felt was subpar to your expectations.

It was good... until the last five minutes...

It was good… until the last five minutes…

Thanks to convergence culture this has changed. This culture becomes prevalent as consumer input has not just increased but creators listen to it. They change their products accordingly and we as the consumer now have influence over that product.

Though we the consumer now have impact on the content itself, we have just as much an impact on the precarity of that content’s industry. A great example of this is how, after pirating music on the internet became popular the music industry suffered greatly as their revenue dropped like a brick. They had to change their methods of distribution and production, even resorting to some extreme measures… like empowering Kanye West.

My opinion (and everyone of the millions of other users, despite age, education, or what that opinion actually may be) matters!

My opinion (and everyone of the millions of other users, despite age, education, or what that opinion actually may be) matters!

With convergence cultures wonderful application of allowing us the consumer to influence content, it gives us just as much control over creating and distributing our own content with consumers becoming “cultural producers and distributors, bypassing ‘traditional’ organizations via peer-to-peer and ‘many-to-many’ (rather than ‘one-to-many’) communication systems” (56). With the introduction of social media like Youtube, Twitter and blogs, we the consumer can create content and distribute entertainment whatever way we please. Though we are still using content, what we create and distribute is competing with the professional industries and as a result they suffer. Ironically, with consumers creating new content, it is rare for them to make a dime from this. The professionals develop more precarious jobs while the consumer gets no compensation for their work, in this case no one wins, like when someone empowers Kanye West.

Which is where video game mods come in. Now I can already hear people ask ‘what the hell is a mod? Is it contagious?’ If you don’t know what a mod is please go over to the little section at the bottom about what a mod is that I wrote just for you! But let’s continue.

Video game mods are a fascinating induction into convergence culture, they stem from letting the user create content but work in the opposite fashion in their effect. Mods have created a market place where you can be just as likely to download (for free) a new mod to an old video game as you are to pay ten to sixty dollars for a new game. With the larger numbers of people who make these mods, it becomes more difficult to define “the line between paid and unpaid work, between ‘professionals’ and ‘amateurs’” (13). Some of these mods are so well made and thoughtfully designed that a game which has been out for years can have new life added to it. Arma II suddenly became popular again after being on the market for three years after the release of the mod DayZ, selling 300,000 more units thanks to the mod.

Thanks to mods, this realistic army shooter became...

Thanks to mods, this realistic army shooter became…

dayz_screenshot_wallpapers_by_suzuki88-d5ecqup

became a zombie survival simulator.

Unlike convergence culture for most media, this form of consumer created content has the opposite effect with video games. The mods will create more interest for the core game while giving consumers an opportunity to create their own personal content. There are even cases where mods were so popular, that the game developers of the core game hired these modders as full time staff.

This culture of creating new content from previously built games shows “that the very distinction between production and consumption is becoming outmoded” (56) We the consumer can take the games we love and are now able to make them a truly personal experience while at the same time the video game industry is able to maintain a sense of job safety.

Source for quotes:

Hesmondhalgh, David, and Sarah Baker. Creative Labour: Media Work in Three Cultural Industries. London: Routledge, 2011. Print.

If you skipped down here to find out what a mod is you’ve come to the right place!

So you’re asking, what in the hell is a mod? I read through the whole post and had no idea. So what is it?!

What is it?

What is it?

Glad you asked [INSERT NAME HERE]! A video game mod or modification is when a consumer has access to the inherent structure of a video game and can make new content.

Let’s do a quick walk through. Let’s imagine you buy a new game called EXAMPLE. You love this game, you play it with your friends, your family, even tried to teach your dog. But the more you play it the more you feel like parts of the game could be changed. So you, the consumer, decide to change the game. For this you use the game engine.

Think of the game engine like a car factory and game as the car. The factory has all the parts already made, it has the way the car will be built already there, but what you can do is change things up. Maybe that car could use a sun roof, maybe it needs better brakes or just a different coat of paint. This is exactly how a game engine works in relation to a game. You the user can change anything about the game either fixing a problem, adding new features and areas to explore or just changing the color of your favorite characters shirt. Some video game developers give free access to the game engine and encourage their fans to experiment with the core structure of the game or even build something new and fantastical.

It should be noted that if you want to make, use, or play a mod you HAVE TO have the core game. So if you want to play a mod built for Grand Theft Auto, you need to own the game to do so.

And now you know!

I really should have stocked up on more blue and red lasers...

I really should have stocked up on more blue and red lasers…

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: