Modding as an Open Source Approach to Extending Computer Game Systems

  • Walt Scacchi
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 365)


This paper examines what is known so far about the role of open source software development within the world of game mods and modding practices. Game modding has become a leading method for developing games by customizing or creating OSS extensions to game software in general, and to proprietary closed source software games in particular. What, why, and how OSS and CSS come together within an application system is the subject for this study. The research method is observational and qualitative, so as to highlight current practices and issues that can be associated with software engineering and game studies foundations. Numerous examples of different game mods and modding practices are identified throughout.


Game Play Game Development Software Product Line Modding Practice Game Engine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. 1.
    Alspaugh, T.A., Asuncion, H.A., Scacchi, W.: Intellectual Property Rights Requirements for Heterogeneously Licensed Systems. In: Proc. 17th. Intern. Conf. Requirements Engineering (RE 2009), Atlanta, GA, September 24-33 (2009)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alspaugh, T.A., Scacchi, W., Asuncion, H.A.: Software Licenses in Context: The Challenge of Heterogeneously Licensed Systems. J. Assoc. Information Systems 11(11), 730–755 (2010)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Batory, D., Johnson, C., MacDonald, B., von Heeder, D.: Achieving extensibility through product lines and domain specific languages: a case study. ACM Trans. Software Engineering and Methodology 11(2), 191–214 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Burnett, M., Cook, C., Rothermel, G.: End-User Software Engineering. Communications ACM 47(9), 53–58 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    El-Nasr, M.S., Smith, B.K.: Learning Through Game Modding. ACM Computers in Entertainment 4(1), Article 3B (2006)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Fielding, R.T., Taylor, R.N.: Principled Design of the Modern Web Architecture. ACM Trans. Internet Technology 2(2), 115–150 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Huang, A.: Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering. No Starch Press, San Francisco (2003)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Henttonen, K., Matinlassi, M., Niemela, E., Kanstren, T.: Integrability and Extensibility Evaluation in Software Architectural Models—A case study. The Open Software Engineering Journal 1(1), 1–20 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kelland, M.: From Game Mod to Low-Budget Film: The Evolution of Machinima. In: Lowood, H., Nitsche, M. (eds.) The Machinima Reader, pp. 23–36. MIT Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Kücklich, J.: Precarious playbour: Modders and the digital games industry. Fiberculture (5) (2005), (accessed April 13, 2011)
  11. 11.
    Leveque, T., Estublier, J., Vega, G.: Extensibility and Modularity for Model-Driven Engineering Environments. In: 16th IEEE Conf. On Engineering Computer-Based Systems (ECBS 2009), pp. 305–314 (2009)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lowood, H., Nitsche, M. (eds.): The Machinima Reader. MIT Press, Cambridge (2011)Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Marino, P.: 3D Game-Based Filmmaking: The Art of Machinima. Paraglyph Press, Scottsdale (2004)Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Narayanaswamy, K., Scacchi, W.: Maintaining Evolving Configurations of Large Software Systems. IEEE Trans. Software Engineering SE-13(3), 324–334 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Parnas, D.L.: Designing Software for Ease of Extension and Contraction. IEEE Trans. Software Engineering SE-5(2), 128–138 (1979)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Postigo, H.: Of mods and modders: Chasing down the value of fan–based digital game modifications. Games and Culture 2(4), 300–313 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Postigo, H.: Video Game Appropriation through Modifications: Attitudes Concerning Intellectual Property among Modders and Fans. Convergence 14(1), 59–74 (2008)Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Scacchi, W.: Modeling, Integrating, and Enacting Complex Organizational Processes. In: Carley, K., Gasser, L., Prietula, M. (eds.) Simulating Organizations: Computational Models of Institutions and Groups, pp. 153–168. MIT Press, Cambridge (1998)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Scacchi, W.: Understanding the Requirements for Developing Open Source Software. IEE Proceedings—Software Engineering 149(1), 24–39 (2002); Revised version in Lyytinen, K., Loucopoulos, P., Mylopoulos, J., Robinson, W., (Eds.), Design Requirements Engineering: A Ten-Year Perspective. LNBIP, vol. 14, pp. 467–494. Springer, Heidelberg (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Scacchi, W.: Free/Open Source Software Development Practices in the Game Community. IEEE Software 21(1), 59–67 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Scacchi, W.: Free/Open Source Software Development: Recent Research Results and Emerging Opportunities. In: Proc. European Software Engineering Conference and ACM SIGSOFT Symposium on the Foundations of Software Engineering, Dubrovnik, Croatia, pp. 459–468 (September 2007)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Scacchi, W.: Game-Based Virtual Worlds as Decentralized Virtual Activity Systems. In: Bainbridge, W.S. (ed.) Online Worlds: Convergence of the Real and the Virtual, pp. 225–236. Springer, New York (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Sotamaa, O.: When the Game Is Not Enough: Motivations and Practices Among Computer Game Modding Culture. Games and Culture 5(3), 239–255 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Taylor, T.L.: The Assemblage of Play. Games and Culture 4(4), 331–339 (2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Wen, H.: Multi Theft Auto: Hacking Multi-Player Into Grand Theft Auto With Open Source, OSDir (May 25, 2005), Also see, (all accessed June 1, 2011)
  26. 26.
    Yee, N.: The Labor of Fun: How Video Games Blur the Boundaries of Work and Play. Games and Culture 1(1), 68–71 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walt Scacchi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Software Research and Center for Computer Games and Virtual WorldsUniversity of CaliforniaIrvine

Personalised recommendations