The best part of gaming is its variety and accessibility for everyone.
Gaming is a fun and engaging hobby no matter what or how you play. In fact, it can be literally anything you want it to be. Gaming can be a mechanical or mental challenge, a test of teamwork, a place to relax, a way to get lost in another world, and so much more. I want to highlight something that is unique to PC gaming: the modding scene.
The term “modding” comes from the word modification.
“to make basic or fundamental changes in often to give a new orientation to or to serve a new end” – Merriam Webster Dictionary.
This definition applies to the real world – you can modify a car, for example, changing its parts to create something new and unique. This same idea can be taken to many of the best games on PC. Developers will give the players tools to change the game and expand on it in any way they see fit. Making these tools accessible and easy to learn (hard to master), and gives games an almost infinite lifetime.
Modify – “to make basic or fundamental changes in often to give a new orientation to or to serve a new end”.
Take, for example, the popular video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The latest entry in the Elder Scrolls series by Bethesda Game Studios released in 2011. And it is still active today. As of writing this article on April 22, 2021, the remastered version on Steam for PC has 10,250 current players with a 30-day average of 16,582.8 players. The game is a sprawling, dense adventure, but what really gives the game life is the way Bethesda supported it on Steam.
Steam is Valve’s popular computer program where you can buy games, modify them, chat and play with other players, share art, and more.
First, Bethesda released the same tools they used to make the game as a free program on Steam, called the Skyrim Script Extender. With this tool and a few YouTube tutorials, aspiring modders can create anything from their own follower to a custom questline with its own story, voice acting, locations, items, and outcomes. Second, Steam makes installing mods easy with the Steam Workshop for supported games, like Skyrim. All you do is navigate to the game’s page, click “subscribe” on the mod you want, and it will be downloaded and installed the next time you launch the game! Due to the accessibility of creating and installing mods for Skyrim and Bethesda’s openness to player creation, Skyrim is still a monster of a game almost 10 years later!
Skyrim Script Extender allows players to create their own mods for Skyrim and share them with other players.
Even if your game is not on Steam, there is a good chance there are still mods for it on another site. For example, Minecraft has thousands of mods and player created maps, texture packs, and more on fan-built websites like Planet Minecraft. Nexus Mods is another great source for modding, and where I find most of my favorite mods. To quote their front page, Nexus “host[s] 306,556 files for 1,261 games from 124,689 authors serving 26,398,684 members with 4,642,853,878 downloads to date. We support modding for all PC games. If you can mod it, we’ll host it”.
On Nexus, Skyrim has 66.3 thousand mods with 1.8 billion total downloads. The Skyrim mod “Enderal: Forgotten Stories” has its own page on Steam. From its page, it “is a total conversion mod for Skyrim that is set in its own world with its own lore and story. It offers an immersive open world, all for the player to explore, overhauled skill systems and gameplay mechanics and a dark, psychological storyline with believable characters”. Enderal won the award for Best Fan Creation at The Game Awards 2016, a widely recognized annual awards show for everything gaming.
Enderal: Forgotten Stories is a total conversion mod for Skyrim that won several awards.
Furthermore, in mod “The Forgotten City”, the player “travel[s] 2,000 years into the past [to] relive the final days of a cursed Roman city, where if one person sins, everyone dies”. It won the E3 2018 award for “Unreal Underdog” and is releasing as its own game in summer 2021.
Just as you can play something as game changing as Enderal (or a new game in The Forgotten City), you can turn all dragons into Thomas the Tank Engine, all guards into chickens, and make all mudcrabs wear a tophat and monocle. You can have complete combat, animation, music, or graphical overhauls, or you can have a Bear that plays Queen’s “We Will Rock You” on his trusty lute.
*Singing* “Let me tell you a story, of one time I ran, away from my captors, became a real man!” *Applause* “Thank you! I’ll be here all night!”
Skyrim is just one example of the many games that have mod support on PC. If you give players the tools, their passion will shine through in funny and awesome projects alike that will keep a game going for years after players finish its original content. Mods are a gateway to the endless fun and creativity that makes it an essential and unforgettable part of gaming, for me. If my friends and I come of off a anxiety-inducing Warzone win, we can find relaxation in the custom races of Halo Reach, or goof around in the hilarious game mode of Prop Hunt in Garry’s Mod. Mods offer something for everyone, and that makes it awesome to me. The more people I can introduce to my favorite hobby, the better!