Creating mods was once a central part of game culture, growing a vibrantly experimental subculture around jokes, experiments, and whole new types of play. In the last decade there has been a huge migration of PC developers coming into the safe but limiting arms of console manufacturers.
Still, a number of smaller PC developers have resisted the siren call of Xbox and PlayStation, including Bohemia Interactive. The studo created the original Operation Flashpoint in 2001, one of the most demanding and realistic military shooters of the era. They went on to bring the game’s intense sense of patience and slowness to the ArmA series, which has generated a small but fiercely loyal audience, precisely the kind of group that helped make mod’ing culture so vibrant in years passed.
A forthcoming mod for ArmA 2, Day Z, recently made the case for the enduring importance of game mods. The zombie survival game is still in Alpha, but it’s already earned a positive recognition in the press for its moody and methodical approach to zombie apocalypses, a more realistic counterpoint to the high deathcount spatter of Left 4 Dead. The mod also helped increase sales of ArmA 2 by 500%, Bohemia Interactive said.
Day Z is a reminder that games can be treated as a platforms unto themselves, the benefits of which go to developers and players hungry for new content without a platform provider getting in the way and telling them what they can and can’t do.