I love PC mods, they are one of the reasons I’ve been playing Skyrim for so long.
They add additional content, tweak game balance, retexture graphics, fix bugs, fix annoying game features. There is a lot of love for the modding community and there should be.
But do they ever go too far?
My Personal Mod Rules
There are mods that add lightsabers and chicken mounts to Skyrim but I would never use them. I’ve a few personal rules around what mods I use, of course I don’t expect anyone else to conform to these rules.
I don’t add god weapons to my game or use invincibility mods.
I use mods to expand by experience in the game not to add items that don’t fit in it or to make myself the Super Duper Lord of everything…….that happens later.
For example, I love the Mabari in DA:O but after Lothering, he is kind of useless. He’s not as versatile a tank or off-tank as Ailster or Sten and he’s not as good as support as Morrigan or Leliana, so I downloaded a mod that made him a summon creature so I can always have him with me even when I have a full party.
I wouldn’t use a mod that did this to Shale or Morrigan or any other companion, because it makes no sense to be able to summon them like that, but lore wise Mabari hounds are always with their masters, so a dog whistle that summons him made sense to me.
I also used a mod to allow my followers to ride horses in Skyrim because them running behind me was annoying . That same mod also allowed me to have more followers and a number of other lovely tweaks that really added to the usefulness of followers in Skyrim.
I could spend this whole post listing off all the mods I’ve used in various games, but that is not what this post is about!
………..Although that sounds like a good idea for one, note to self; write post on mods I’ve used for profit.
Anyway, where was I , oh yes, here is my personal mod rules in bullet point form
- No God Items
- No mods that allow me to become invincible without putting in any effort
- No mods that don’t make sense within the context of the game
- No naked mods
- No appearance mods that change a character’s race
And that is pretty much it
I’m telling you this because even though I love mods, there are some mods that I think cross a line and my personal mod rules might help give you some context to that.
People are free to use any mods they like, but as someone on the BSN once said, “I’m free to be disgusted at you when you use them”
At this stage I’m sure you’re asking yourself what am I talking about.
The mods that triggered this post are the DA2 Isabela race change Mods and the Skyrim Rape Mods
For those of you who haven’t played Dragon Age 2 (DA2) this is Isabela
This is what one of the many mods that change her appearance does to her, spot the difference?
No it’s not the tattoo, the pose, or the daggers, it’s her race
Isabela is one of the few people of colour in Dragon Age and someone, in fact a number of someones have, created mods that makes her white.
Encase you think this is a once off, Dragon Age: Inquisition is not even out yet and already someone has whitewashed two of the characters.
Now, I’m not against appearance mods that change but switching their race is a bit much and these mods only ever seem to be created to change a black person white rather than the other way around.
Basically people have taken some of the only black people in video games and whitewashed them, how is this not totally gross?
The Skyrim Rape mods are fairly self-explanatory, they add the ability to rape opponents who’ve surrendered or various others in game, which is lovely.
There is an argument to be made that people can mod their own games however they like and that there should be no restrictions on that but is that a valid argument?
Whitewashing characters because someone didn’t like their ‘dark look’ (actual quote from the Isabela mod) is inappropriate, if not totally racist.
Rape is often used as shorthand to tell players that this person is an evil person, this is bad enough without players seeking to add it into a game. There is enough in our world that seeks to trivialise Rape without modders adding it into a fantasy RPG and allow people to carry it out on random bandits.
So here is the question, should we allow there to be a free for all when it comes to modding, or should we as a community stand up and say ‘no, it is not right’?
People don’t have to download these mods, they don’t have to use them but is the fact that they exist at all a problem? I would argue that it is.
So What’s my Point?
People learn from the media that surrounds them, that media can be a positive or negative influence on the society that absorbs it.
Some game developers like BioWare attempt to be a positive influence by adding a diverse cast of characters to their games, for modders to then destroy this diversity, to erase this effort and to replace it with a generic white characters is wrong.
Modding out the diversity in games, leaves a player in a bubble, surrounded by their own experiences, letting them choose not to let anything else in.
If we do not allow our thoughts and opinions to be challenged by new people, new experiences, new opinions then what good are they. Our ideas being challenged allows them to grow, develop and become solid or allows us to realise that we were wrong, without this we become lost in a stagnant world of confirmation bias.
In order to grow as a person, we must reach out of our comfort zone, grab what is there, taste it, feel it, consider it and then decide whether or not it is something you want to assimilate into yourself.
I believe that there are standards that we must attempt to live by in order to advance the human race, some of those standards are to increase the diversity in our media not reduce it and to vilify rape, not to excuse or trivialise it.
We may not always be able to live up to the standard we set ourselves but as we strive towards them we become better people.
These types of mods are symptom of a world trying to maintain the status quo and we can’t let it stop us from bettering ourselves.
Have a Deadly Day!