Discourse Engines for Art Mods

Cindy Poremba


This paper presents a genealogy of "art mod" (artistic videogame modification) definitions and frameworks. Such frameworks serve, either intentionally or unintentionally, to establish modding within a tradition of analysis and critique: whether participatory design, alternative media, folk art, and/or fine art. By situating the definition and history of art mods within a particular discourse, researchers construct the ground from which to make arguments towards organizing the reception and critique of these works. Such arguments include whether mods in general (and art mods in particular) are inherently political or banal (even boring), whether these works speak back at all to games themselves (and whether they should), whether these works are powerful and disruptive; or compromised (by virtue of their parasitic position), and as a result marginal. A genealogy of art mod frameworks highlights the boundary politics of the critique of art mods, and the problem of presenting transparent interpretive lenses in an interdisciplinary field such as game studies.


game art; game modification; art mods; Adam Killer; Brody Condon

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