I’ve been thinking about game mods lately. For those not in the know, mods are user developed “add-ons” for video games that change the appearance or the features of a game. They’ve grown increasing popular in the last decade, and for some game like Minecraft, they’re pretty much standard for most players.
The thing I love about mods is they represent a brilliant opportunity in the evolution of gaming. They’re an example of the feedback loop in action. The old development cycle was this:
Developer has an idea -> build game -> tests -> release game -> moves on to next project.
But with the advent of online forums and social media, fans are much more vocal about what they want in a game, and while I’m the first to warn content creators about trying to please ALL of the people all of the time, the fans are not only speaking, they’re now creating.
If we think of mods as the individual’s way of responding to the work(the game), mods are essentially a way to add something that was not there, or missing. To that end, while not every mod needs to be embraced and cherished, really popular mods must represent something the players want or need.
The smart developer has gone from ignoring or feeling indignant about fans changing their game to embracing those differences and in some cases, making them part of the work. There are skirmishes to be played out involving recognition and monetization of that work, but from a holistic view, it’s a pretty exciting thing .Thus, the cycle becomes
Developer has an idea -> build game -> tests -> release game -> Fans mod game -> Fans embrace popular mod -> Developer uses that feedback constructively, adds mod features to base game -> fans embrace game more, game becomes better.
Looking at it from a non-tech perspective, it’s essentially “learning from your mistakes”, though mistake is not really the right word here. It’s taking notes about your performance, and using them to make the next performance better. Improvement by collaboration, it’s a beautiful thing.
In the spirit of collaboration, do you have any thoughts on this?