Modding computer games has been around for a while and it's always been a bit strange.
There are the Skyrim ones where you can make everyone have giant breasts or make horses have genitalia. There are the Grand Theft Auto mods that allow you to commit violent crimes while being Spongebob or other cartoons. And there are the ones where you can have more sexually explicit content between adults in Sims.
But recently, modding has gotten out of control and made me realize that there should be some way to better regulate how mods are shared online. While mods are often the result of astonishing creativity, humor, and maybe even fetishes, there have been a few recent mods that have proven to be quite alarming to the gaming community.
In January 2021, CD Projekt Red banned one of Cyberpunk 2077's mods that allowed players to have sex with Keanu Reeves' character, Johnny Silverhand. The mod, created by Catmino, went against CD Projeckt Red's user-generated content rules (about creating content that's harmful towards others).
Some fans of the mod were outraged, claiming that it shouldn't matter because there is already a sex scene with Johnny in the game. Others said that it "wasn't real" so why does it matter if people want to fantasize about having sex with Keanu Reeves? But the actor himself stated that the mod made him uncomfortable — and that should be enough. It was for CD Projekt Red at least.
The "video games aren't real" argument
That "it's not real" mantra is often what continues to be the argument in favor of less savory mods. People claim that it's "just a video game," arguing that the violence in video games doesn't mean gamers will go out and start shooting up places like they would in GTA.
But a lot of these mods are more tangible things that already do happen a lot in real life (like rape), meaning it can be very uncomfortable and concerning for people within the gaming community. It can also be a gateway for people that fantasize about these things.
I'm not talking about people creating mods that have more anatomically correct body parts for Smash characters or making every guard a chicken in Skyrim. I'm talking about more harmful mods like one that was recently implemented in the Sims, causing the entire community to petition for its removal. A mod that allowed child porn.
WickedWhims is a Sims mod that allows more explicit sexual actions to be seen between two consenting adults in EA's life simulation game. It's not my thing but it's also not all that concerning. But some modders decided to add third-party code to the existing WickedWhims mod that gave it more sinister functions. This included being able to have sexual intercourse with babies, toddlers, and pets.
The code basically requires Sims characters to have a trait called "Lolicon" or "Shotacon" in order to have sex with underaged Sims, including babies.
A petition started floating around the Sims community last month, begging people to not only spread awareness of this mod throughout the Sims community and beyond but to get the mod creators punished in some way.
EA Games responded to many Sims players who spoke out about the mod with a similar message: Anyone using the mod will no longer be able to play the game and their EA accounts will be permanently banned.
While many applauded EA for taking action and responding to concerns in the Sims community, others felt that the developers were putting all the blame on the modders. Some Sims fans asked why mods like this were even able to exist in the first place and demanded that EA ban all mods with "deeply disturbing content."
A lot of other gamers are concerned about the idea of mods getting banned since it could be seen as silencing creativity. Some asked why the child porn mod was banned from the Sims while mods that hurt or kill Sims is not banned (I couldn't personally find proof of these mods existing and neither could YouTubers who have covered the topic), essentially bringing up the old and questionable argument, "When does it end?"
To that question, one should realize that just because something else upsetting allegedly exists in a game doesn't mean people can't be concerned about another upsetting thing in the game. And maybe those Sim-killing mods should be looked at, depending on the level of violence and torture involved (I personally would find it funny but can see why it might trigger other people).
But don't worry. Nobody is going to ban a mod that turns Sims into Alien or allows you to use Fortnite dances. You can even keep your twerking mod, no judgment.
CD Projekt Red, EA Games, and other game developers have stepped up and banned mods deemed inappropriate, harmful, or illegal. But that was long after many people had already started using them, meaning there are people out there still attempting to do sexual things with toddler-aged Sims. So should there be some type of approval process? Should there be a more regulated way for modders to post their creations online?
I honestly don't know what these changes would look like or if it's even possible. But I am not opposed to developers trying. I don't want modders to feel that their creativity is being stifled or they are being shamed for their interests or fetishes. But some things are a bit beyond "expressing themselves" and are more in the harmful territory.
Esports writer and editor with a passion for creating unique content for the gaming community.