Presentation Outline: Modifications in Video Games

We will be exploring the issue of video game modifications (“mods”) this week.  A mod is an altercation to the video game by users or players.  Mods can be in the form of changing code or physically adding to the system and its accessories.  As mods are often user-generated, there are many debates surrounding their intellectual property rights and whether  mods count as cheating.  Mods are so prevalent in the gaming community, gamers often have a specific name for the modified version versus the original version.

As there are many issues to discuss concerning mods, we have decided to limit it to the following main topics:

  1. An explanation of what mods are and their origins.
  2. Legal ramifications of modding to create entirely new games in their own right: We will be focusing on Project M and Dota 2 to highlight these issues.  Additionally, we will explore the potential intellectual property and contract law ramifications surrounding the creation of content in-game that is mediated by built-in creator features, and that are later commercialized.
  3. Mods for the purpose of creating art: Artists are now using the video game format to create film and other artistic works.  We will be highlighting the legal ramifications of using a mod to create artwork with respect to the legal rights.  To do this, we will be looking at specific case studies of films made from Grand Theft Auto V.
  4. An inside look of the company’s response: Companies have now responded to mods in many ways.  Some liken mods to cheating and have banned users from playing the game.  Since gaming is becoming a spectator sport and companies often host events, we will be looking at the regulatory and legal framework in which companies operate, particularly for League of Legends and Smash Ultimate.  This analysis will look at where the established rules originate from, the separation of powers in the gaming sphere, and the concerns of modding in the competitive gaming industry.
  5. Lastly, we will be looking at controller modifications for persons with disabilities: Although controllers are created for the masses, we will be looking at the history and implications of controller mods to include persons with disabilities over the years.

Links relating to our topic: