Doctoral Research in Minecraft Modding

Seeking Participants!

If you are (or have been) involved in making Minecraft mods, or tools to support such modding, I would like to invite you to participate in my research. This is an opportunity to share your experiences and stories, and to have them your perspectives and creations featured in published academic work.

Participation means I would conduct interviews in which I ask you to talk about your modding work, experience, and viewpoints. Typically, there would be two interviews, 60-90 minutes each, spaced several months apart. However, this is not a strict requirement: you are free to decide how much or how little time you want to spend. I will also ask to be able to join you in online forums or chat rooms (limited to whatever you feel comfortable with) to observe your modding-related conversations and interactions with others.

If you are interested in participating, or would like more information, please contact me directly: nicwatson {AT}

Links for Participants

Privacy and Research Ethics

If you choose to participate, your privacy will be protected throughout this research. You will have the opportunity to decide how much you want to share and whether you want your name to be identifiable or disguised in the published results. This study has been reviewed and approved by the Research Ethics Unit of Concordia University’s Office Of Research.

Please see the research ethics FAQ for more information.

Project Summary

Modding is the practice of changing the way a computer game works by altering the running code. It is performed by consumers/players who want to expand, enhance, or customize the gameplay experience, for themselves and others. These individuals are termed modders, and the game modifications themselves are called mods. Modders frequently publish their mods on websites, where they can be downloaded and installed by other player-consumers who wish to incorporate these changes into their own copies of the game.

This study is concerned with the practices of modders of a specific computer game, Minecraft (Mojang AB, 2010)--as well as the cultural meanings that surround those practices and that attach to mods as artifacts. Through interviews, online forum discussions, and participant observation in real-time online chats, this research seeks to produce an ethnography of Minecraft modders, both as individuals and as a community.

Research Questions

  • What are the enduring practices associated with Minecraft modding?
  • How has the combination of cultural forces and technical constraints worked to produce Minecraft and its modding community as they are today?
  • How do sub-groups of modders distinguish themselves from each other, from non-modding players, and from commercial developers?
About the Researcher

Nic Watson is a Ph.D. candidate in Communication Studies at Concordia University, in Montréal, Canada. He is currently in his fourth year of the program, and expects to graduate in two years. This research will form the basis for his doctoral dissertation. He is a member of the Technoculture, Art, and Games (TAG) research centre, which is part of the newly-created Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture, and Technology.

Nic received his B.A. in Anthropology & Sociology, with a minor in Computer Science, from Knox College (Galesburg, IL, USA) in 2008. He earned an M.S. in Digital Media from Georgia Tech in 2012, where he wrote his thesis on the fan revival of the defunct virtual world Myst Online: Uru Live. His areas of scholarly interest include gameplay and design, game modding, online virtual worlds, and the history of new media technologies.

This dissertation research is supervised by Dr. Mia Consalvo.