Game modding communities thrive on the free exchange of knowledge that ranges from the developers adopting a mod-friendly attitude to the hobbyists who share their work and knowledge with comrades. The community thrives on clever innovation, on people picking up a project where others have left off, and on learning by imitation. Yet interestingly, the poisonous ideas of imaginary property find their way into this environment as well—often to its detriment.
Copying others is how we learn, and while many people in modding communities are respectful, there is always somebody who reposts a mod on a different site or tries to pass another’s work off as his own. Seeing this happen is almost an indicator of a mod’s success. Unfortunately, all too often the original modder responds terribly, announcing that they will no longer work on the project or even taking the whole thing offline.
It seems that these modders fail to understand that stopping the project punishes its numerous fans for their loyalty. It even punishes the modder himself as presumably he enjoys what he’s doing. The only person this response doesn’t hurt is the copier, filesharer, “pirate,” or “thief,” who likely doesn’t give a whit about how they feel, whereas everybody else cares deeply. If anything, that guy wins: He still has the free work, and since the original guy is packing up, he can scoop up the credit. I have to wonder if the real motivation behind this response actually is to hurt the fans, in the hopes that they’ll be upset enough to fight the modder’s “battle” for them.
In the end, who cares? The entire modding community is a series of derivative works based on a game; it’s hypocritical to make a fuss about derivative-derivative works. If somebody is trying to pretend the work is their own, it’s only going to destroy their own reputation when they get called out on it. And if they’re trying to improve, fix, or build upon a work, why not join forces?
Too often modders, like more mainstream content creators, desperately cling to a false sense of control over what they see as “their” work. The reality is that if you don’t want your stuff copied and shared, keep it on your own computer, or, better yet, do nothing.