Zur Hauptnavigation springen Zum Inhalt springen Zur Fußzeile springen


2022: Special Issue: Ludomaterialities

Video Game Modding and Money: From Precarious Playbor to Reimbursed Labor of Love

November 15, 2022


As hobbyist game developers, ‘modders’ transform video games by altering and extending their content. Even though the labor they carry out often contributes to the success of games, they usually do not get a monetary share of the value they enhance. Building upon this, modding has been discussed as a form of ‘precarious labor’ in the past, with authors drawing attention to the power imbalance between modders and official developers. At the same time, most efforts of reimbursing modders and ‘paid modding’ have caused controversy within the modding community, and modding is still seen as a voluntary, free-of-charge ‘labor of love’ by many fans. Among modders, however, increasing professionalization tendencies and commercial endeavors can be observed as well. Taking into account past and current efforts to commodify modding and indepth interviews with modders of Bethesda Softworks games, this article explores different perspectives on modding and money and examines the strategies modders use to commercialize their derivative works and their fannish labor in general.