The year 2008 was an important one in the lifetime of the ever popular console the Nintendo Wii, and it saw the release of one of its most beloved games: Mario Kart Wii. A staple at many parties and a destroyer of friendships, this game was one of the hallmarks of the system, and even after its departure from the mainstream remains a dedicated community of modders and creators. The game is still being played to this day and hosts a plethora of features, game modes, and custom made tracks that dwarf the original. The community over the years has done an overall fantastic job of reviving the game and enhancing the factors that made it so memorable in the hearts of many. Yet, almost all Mario Kart games have had a strong impact on their respective consoles. Why is Mario Kart Wii the main chosen candidate for so much continued care? The answer stems from the mechanics of the base game and how entities interact and behave toward one another.
The mods in Mario Kart Wii currently are numerous and diverse. They stem from more simplistic mods such as increasing the cc (which mostly just increases the speed of the vehicles), to having items fall out of the sky constantly in “item rain,” to changing the stats of a vehicle to have the highest value in every category for uncontrollable entertainment. Not only are these mods fun to experience, but they also completely change the way a player races in order to make full use of the mods’ advantages. Due to how the stats of the game’s vehicles function, and the layout of most tracks, only a small selection of vehicles were ever considered “meta” and worth using in the vanilla game (and by vehicles I mean bikes, because karts were almost never used in high level play). However, now that these mods introduce modes that reward going out of your way for dropped items, increase your speed, and require more maneuverability, the lineup of attractive vehicles has increased and become an important factor in the outcome of a race.
This phenomenon demonstrates how the work of modding is able to change how players interact with a game, and they do this by taking the base game mechanics and manipulating them to fit their needs. This leads into the idea that modding is similar to the “parasitism of a host” in which the modders act as the parasites and take from the host (the game) for their own benefit (Schleiner 36). It’s essentially the result of the age old “what if this was in the game?” question in which players value the game as a whole but would like to see changes in it. This is why modders take elements from the base game instead of simply making a new game (and also because there are many costs to that). While this could be seen as harmful to the standing of the base game, it usually works in favor of the communities that have and continue to support it.
Source: Schleiner, Anne-Marie. “The Player’s Power to Change the Game.” Amsterdam University Press, 2017.
Gameplay of item rain game mode. Video by TWD98.