Within the confines of our own home, along with a decent computer and some programming skills, one can take a game already in its place and convert it into a whole other system of its own. Fan-programmers have played a role in the success of the PC digital game industry, effectively launching their own games into the mainstream while also boosting the popularity of the same game they had modded, adding to the shelf-life of the original product (Kucklich). I remember learning about how League of Legends was actually an inspiration of Dota, and how Dota is actually a mod of Warcraft III. They are standalone games, with League of Legends and Dota being features of worldwide tournaments. However, these ‘fan-programmers’ possess risks that could either launch them into the mainstream of the gaming industry, or remain anonymous within a blooming industry filled with endless possibilities. Did the video game manufacturers and player communities suddenly stop co-existing? Have we come to the point where we must resort to making entertainment for ourselves?
The gaming industry is a high-risk, high-reward environment, and this environment is extremely competitive. There lies a shared experience among the gamers in their respective communities; a shared practice of active consumption of video games and participation within the commercially successful PC gaming industry. Our own PC’s as a use of commonplace technology along with an emergence of software engineers, programmers, and system designers have brought us to this moment; a moment where we can spend countless hours developing our own (re)creation of works and turn them into something amazing. It is certain that technological advances have allowed gaming to take hold of the players’ imaginations, and that imagination has led to breakthroughs that have garnered worldwide attention.
Video games belong inside a complex mix of techonology and artistic value; they are now more interactive and act as a cultural product as opposed to just entertainment. There are more factors to video games that the consumer must consider now, such as add-ons and incentives from downloadable content. Gaming communities have always maintained different reactions to these add-ons and incentives. Often times, they are not always well-received. We would ask ourselves, ‘why not just release the game with the DLC in the first place?’ The short answer to that: Because the industry wants money. The firms also want to maintain the illusion that they are offering the consumer more than what they bargained for. However, with firms granting consumers access to tools and capabilities for modding, is there value associated in producing our own games? We can suppose that the ideal combination of merging with the giants of the gaming industry would result in monetary gain for both parties, but what happens when our content, ideas that we have constructed and pieces that we have fabricated, are reappropriated for the sole purpose of monetary gain as opposed to consumer-designed entertainment? When a game is ‘franchised’, and allows itself to be taken over by corporate giants, there lies a huge investment risk not only for the company, but for the creator himself. The commercial exploitation of the ideas and works of these programmers may benefit them, but the environment is competitive and highly concentrated within a capitalistic society.
Kucklich, Julian. “FCJ-025 Precarious Playbour: Modders and the Digital Games Industry.” The Fibreculture Journal. Web. 10 Apr. 2015.