Computing That Serves

Modding as an Open Source Approach to Extending Computer Game Systems


Thursday, March 8, 2012 - 10:00am


Walt Scacchi

UC Irvine


Chuck Knutson

In this talk, I examine what is known so far about the role of open source software development within the world of game mods and modding practices. Game modding has become a leading method for developing computer games by customizing or creating OSS extensions to game software in general, and to proprietary closed source software games in particular. What, why, and how OSS and CSS come together within an application system is the subject for this study. The research method is observational and qualitative, so as to highlight current practices and issues that can be associated with software engineering and game studies foundations. Numerous examples of different game mods and modding practices are identified throughout this presentation. Finally, I will comment on the viability of modding as a development method for creating or extending other software applications, whether for deployment on PCs, Web, enterprise systems, smartphone or tablet devices.


Walt Scacchi is senior research scientist and research faculty member in the Institute for Software Research, and also Director of Research at the Center for Computer Games and Virtual Worlds, both at University of California, Irvine. He received a Ph.D. in Information and Computer Science at UC Irvine in 1981. From 1981-1998, he was a professor at the University of Southern California. Dr. Scacchi returned to UC Irvine in 1999. His research interests include open source software development, computer game culture and technology, virtual worlds for modeling and simulating complex engineering and business processes, developing decentralized heterogeneous information systems, software acquisition, and organizational analysis of system development projects. Dr. Scacchi is an active researcher with more than 150 research publications, and has directed more than 60 externally funded research projects. He also has had numerous consulting and visiting scientist positions with more than 25 firms or institutes, including four start-up ventures. He has served as General (Co-)Chair, Program Chair, or Doctoral Consortium (Co-)Chair at the 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2013 IFIP International Conference on Open Source Systems. His recent activities and research publications can be found at