Modding is a slang expression that is derived from the verb "modify". Modding refers to the act of modifying hardware, software, or virtually anything else, to perform a function not originally conceived or intended by the designer, or achieve a bespoke specification. The term modding is used within the computer game community, particularly in regard to creating new or altered content and sharing that via the web. It may be applied to the overclocking of computers in order to increase the frequency at which the CPU operates. Case modding is a popular activity amongst many computer enthusiasts which involves the customization of a computer case or the installation of water cooling technology. In connection with automobiles, modding can mean engine tuning, remapping of a vehicle's engine control unit or customization of the bodywork. Some people modify small electronic handheld toys by circuit bending, changing the circuits and adding a knob or switch that will change the produced pitch up or down.

Computers and digital equipment

Modding may sometimes infringe the legal rights of the copyright owner. Some nations have laws prohibiting modding and accuse modders of attempting to overcome copy protection schemes. In the United States, the DMCA has set up stiff penalties for mods that violate the rights of intellectual property owners. In the European Union, member states have agreed the EU Copyright Directive and are transposing it into national law. A 22-year-old man was convicted by Caerphilly Magistrates' Court in the United Kingdom in July 2005 for selling a modded Xbox with built in software and games.[1] However it is also worthy of note that some other European countries have not interpreted the legal issues in the same way. In Italy a judge threw out a Sony case saying it was up to owners of a console what they did with it.[2] Similarly in Spain, mod chips have been ruled as legal despite the EU copyright legislation.[3] Modding may be an unauthorized change made to a software or hardware to a platform in gaming. Case mods are modifications to a device with the altering of certain styles. For example, people who mod a Microsoft Xbox 360 can alter the LED lights on the controller to glow different colors.

On August 5, 2009 Matthew Crippen, a 27-year-old student at California State University, Fullerton, was arrested for modifying game consoles including the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii for profit.[4][5] Crippen testified that it was so owners could play their backup discs of DRM-laden gaming software that they legally own. However, the DMCA states that it is illegal to circumvent copyright protection software, even for non-infringing uses such as backing up legally owned games. In December 2010 the prosecutors dropped all charges[6] against Crippen because of inadmissible evidence obtained through an audio-less video recording deemed illegal by California law.[7]

Multi-user licensing

Computer systems, hardware, and software are often sold or licensed to one home machine, to a business that has many computers, a government agency, or a non-profit organization. When the software license says that it is for a specific person, then it is not legal for that software to be used by some other person on that same computer, even a member of the same family, or another employee of the same company. But this strict licensing is only one approach. In this form of licensing, for more than one person to be using that software or hardware, they need to have a multi-user license that usually dictates how many different people may use it.

Derivative software

Some software is licensed with a copy of the program source code supplied along with the executable code in which the license specifically authorizes changes to the supplied software. This is a common standard in business software packages. Hundreds of thousands of computer programmers in some nations have jobs because businesses want the purchased software tailored to the specific needs of the individual businesses. Most every major city has want ads in the newspaper where there are job openings for people to modify some company's computer systems, where the ad specifies what programming languages or operating systems the applicant needs to know.

Derivative software is licensed copyrighted software used in whole or part in new programs written by programmers at businesses using the licensed software. Programmers copy the copyright notices into the source code where the code was copied, and track all such places, because if the license is permitted to expire, then the business loses software use rights, including any place to which it was copied. An annual fee is typically paid to keep the license in effect, and over time, the software supplier can increase the fees to the point that the business chooses to convert to some other commercial software that seems to be more cost effective. It is not unusual in business software to find programs that have many different copyright notices, each referring to different sources of the derived source code.

Video game consoles

A common example of one kind of modding is video game console mod chips, which can allow users to play homemade games, games legitimately purchased in other regions, or legal backup copies, but can also allow illegal unauthorized copies by allowing the player to play personally recorded CD or DVD copies of video games. Modchips, in their current form, were first available for the Sony PlayStation (and later the PlayStation 2). Various other types of copyright circumvention systems also existed for the Nintendo 64 and the older Game Boy consoles (though neither include actual modding, but instead backup devices).

Types of modding

There are two different ways of running unsigned code on a game console. One is through soft modding (modifying software, normally using a softmod) to allow the user to change data contained on its hard drive in the case of the Xbox. Another type of modding, known as hard modding, exploits the BIOS of the console to run unsigned code, or games. This form of 'modding' (more correctly termed as hacking) is very popular as it is able to 'run' many different types of software. But soft modding is even more popular because of its ease of installation and its relatively low price (it can even be done for free with the right tools).

Another type of console modding is about appearances, much like computer case modification. Which includes, adding lights (most likely LEDS, cathodes or other electro-luminescent lighting). Cutting the game system case, to fit hardware and/or expose the internal systems. Cooling is a large part of console hard 'modding', including: heat sink upgrades, more powerful or quieter fans, some even go so far as to abandon common heat exchange to air all together by liquid cooling a console (most notably in the Xbox 360, which initially had some heat problems).

Game software

On the other side, some companies actively encourage modding of their products. In cases such as TiVo and Google, there has been an informal agreement between the modders and the company in which the modders agree not to do anything that destroys the company's business model and the company agrees to support the modding community by providing technical specifications and information. Some commercial video games thrive through a modding community. In the case of Half-Life, a mod called Counter-Strike drove sales of the original software for years.

Device drivers

Modded drivers are made for improved performance which official versions of drivers do not offer or in cases where there are no official versions of drivers for new hardware designed for older operating systems such as Windows 98.

Computer hardware

Case modding may range from simple case painting to full blown case mod with cooling mods and fabricated pieces.

Cars and vehicles


Ortho-modding is the car adaptation (seats, pedals, etc.) to help drivers to prevent, correct and diminish light orthopedic and backbone/spine problems.


Eco-modding is the reduction of drag, petroleum car adaptation to use renewable energy (generally, changing or adding a new engine or motor), generally hydrogen or electricity. See hybrid car. Occasionally, it has been known to run a Diesel engine on plant and animal oils. See Biodiesel.

Performance tuning

Car and engine tuning are modification of a car for enhanced performance, in engine power output, handling, aerodynamics, or cosmetic purposes. See also Category:Vehicle modification.

Industrial machines

Factories get rather expensive machines that are used to mass-produce specialized parts. These machines can be altered to make parts other than how the manufacturers of the machines designed or intended them. The legality of doing this depends on who owns the machines, and whether the agreement, that supplied the machines to the factories, said anything about this, and what the laws are in the nation where this is being done.

For example, the machines might be leased from the manufacturer of the machines. If they are ever to be returned, they need to go back in the same kind of condition and engineering shape as when they were first delivered. There is an annual physical inventory to make sure the factory has everything that they are leasing. This audit might be done by representatives of the leasing company, who are looking to see recognizable machines, that match their models and safety rules.


Pen-modding is the act of combining many pen parts either to help with pen spinning, in which a perfect balance is desired to create an ideal spinning pen, or simply for decoration. These pen mods can either be made by combining parts from different pens and/or mechanical pencils, or by buying modded pens online. In some cases, pen mods can exceed over $30–40 USD per pen.[8]

See also


Media related to Modded objects at Wikimedia Commons

  1. "Man convicted for chipping Xbox". BBC. July 4, 2014.
  2. "Chipping PlayStations isn't illegal, says Italian court". Archived from the original on March 24, 2006.
  3. Haines, Lester (27 Apr 2004). "Spanish judge rules X-Box mods 'legal' Intellectual property loophole".
  4. KRAVETS, DAVID (August 4, 2009). "Student Arrested for Jailbreaking Game Consoles — Update". Wired. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  5. Kravets, David (December 2, 2010). "Prosecutors Dismiss Xbox-Modding Case Mid-Trial". Wired. Retrieved June 19, 2017.
  6. KRAVETS, DAVID (November 8, 2010). "Corporate Cop's Covert Video at Issue in Xbox Modding Case". Wired. Retrieved December 31, 2014.
  7. Custom Pen Spinning Gear, Japanese Mechanical Pencils and Pens. PenWish. Retrieved on 2010-11-26.
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