Why I Spend So Much Time Modding

I was fifteen when The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion was released in March of 2006. I got it as a present from my dad, immediately installed it on what was then considered a pretty good rig, and started playing… and I loved it. Now, I had just come off of playing the previous TES game, Morrowind, for who knows how many hours (probably upwards of 500 at that point, despite a bug in the GOTY edition that made me fall through the world) and was excited to see what the newest Elder Scrolls game had to offer. I pumped at least a hundred hours into that thing before I even figured out what mods were, and once I did? Oh boy, it was something else.

Oblivion was the first game I ever modded but it wasn’t the last. I went on to add mods to all three Dragon Age games, the first Mass Effect and more recently TES V: Skyrim, The Witcher 3 and Morrowind (to a lesser extent than the others). I couldn’t say how many hours of my life I’ve spent scouring the Internet for mods that interest me, downloading and installing them, then trying to get them to all work together without crashing my game. Probably a couple of hundred hours at least.

Sunrise over Solitude.

My current playtime for Skyrim on PC is 505 hours; a good portion of that has been spent modding. I originally picked up the game on console because I didn’t have a PC that could handle it but as soon as I did I picked up another copy and immediately started to add in texture mods, new locations and creatures, armour and weapons and large, script-heavy overhauls that completely changed how the game worked.

Why do I like modding so much? I don’t really have a simple answer for that. I’m fairly technically adept so it feels good that I can change a game in at least some way, and still be able to fix any technical issues that come up more or less on my own. I also love being able to scrape out new experiences from games that I’ve played time and time again. I enjoy seeing how other people think the game should have been. There’s something enjoyable in the organization that comes with downloading and managing hundreds of mods for a single game to try and get that perfect playthrough.

I’m also very particular about the mods I choose. I like my games to look as nice as possible, so I usually go for texture and character overhauls the most. I also enjoy realism, so I lean towards mods that are lore-friendly regardless of what they change. If I feel like having a true roleplaying experience, I’ll also add in immersion mods that add things like basic needs.

Witcher 3 has never looked so fine.

Recently I’ve started really getting back into modding again. A lot of great new mods have come out or been updated for games I enjoy like Skyrim, and there’s graphical overhauls for Morrowind and Oblivion that make modding the game a lot easier in the long run, and cut down massively on the amount of mods that end up in my load order. It’s fun. A lot of fun. Is it frustrating sometimes too? Hell yes. There’s been times when I’ve spent 12-18 hours working on mods for a single game (usually Skyrim) and can’t figure out what’s causing a crash and I get so frustrated that I end up abandoning it for weeks. Right now there’s a crash happening in my relatively lightly modded still in-progress Oblivion that I can’t figure out. But I always come back.

In the words of a friend, “I don’t think Morrowind has ever seen Morrowind look so good.”

Normally, I can deal with some minor crashes here and there; it’s to be expected. However, I’m proud to announce that six years after the game came out and I started modding it I now have a (more or less) stable copy of Skyrim that’s packed full of great textures and a few other things I consider essential as well as running an ENB and still gets around 40 FPS in intensive areas. And doesn’t crash outside of Whiterun. It makes me feel proud. I did this. I picked the right combination of mods, I paid attention to my load order, I stayed away from things that I know cause problems and I listened to the community of people who know what they’re talking about and I finally did it. Now I can play Skyrim the way I feel it was meant to be played without it crashing on me every half hour.

This is why I spend so much of my free time modding my games. The proof is in the pudding after all, and this is some damn good pudding.

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Kat Haas

Kat Haas is a history and anthropology student living outside Philadelphia. When she’s not studying for her bachelor’s degree she’s modding or playing video games, from RPGs to FPS and classic adventure games.

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