September 08, 2008

controlling modding

How can we best prevent game mods that create or allow access to objectionable material? That's a question I thought over while studying mods about a year ago. Research suggested that the best (and also the most objectionable) mods were created when game companies packaged mod making utilities with their game or provided them free of charge via their website. This easy access allowed for easier modding but also for an influx of mature content. And this brings me back to my initial question: how do we stop or control the distribution of objectionable mods?

Research suggests that a web 2.0 mod making utility could be effective. Suppose a game company devoted an entire area of their websites for mods. In order to create a mod, a modder would have to create an account on their website in order to access their webware utility. All mod work would be saved to the game company's servers. Completed mods are then packaged and sent (all within the utility) for approval to the game company where the mod will undergo examination. After the examination, mods become downloadable through an external application similar to Valve's Steam. Through the external application, the game company can enable or disable mods if they find the mod is no longer complying with its original or reported format. Moreover, users must agree to a disclaimer if the mod contains mature content before they can download or enable the mod.

It would seem that by removing distribution privileges from modders, game companies could better control user-created game content, which in turn may ease the minds of concerned parents and politicians alike.

Copyright Nicholas Matthews, 2008

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