The 14th Annual Mod of the Year Awards are kicking off today. Mods are alterations to computer games made by regular people—usually fans of the original games. Mods can range from entirely new games to minor alterations to a game.

Sponsored by Mod DB, the largest website supporting independent game development, the contest will run for four weeks. Between now and then, players will vote on the top 100 mods, which will be announced December 11. The overall winner will be announced “shortly after Christmas.”

Last year more than 130,000 players voted. Winners included Euro Truck Simulator 2 MultiplayerStar Trek: Armada 3S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Lost Alpha; and Breaking Point.

Mod DB has a live scoreboard and information on how to vote. More than 10,000 mods have been nominated.

Modders don’t expect fame and fortune for all the work they put in modding games—although they do learn a lot about developing games. Most modders do the hard work of developing a mod because they love a game and want to add features to it.  Or they want to riff on the original game and make something different. Modding can involve one or two people or larger groups of designers, programmers, writers, and more. Sometimes a successful mod can be good for the original creator of a game and spur new sales of the original game. However, some developers discourage mods and shut them down.

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Linda learned to play video games as a way to connect with her teenaged kids, and then she learned to love video games for their own sake. At Pixelkin she wrangles the business & management side of things, writes posts as often as she can, reaches out on the social media, and does the occasional panel or talk. She lives in Seattle, where she writes, studies, plays video games, spends time with her family, consumes vast quantities of science fiction, and looks after her small cockapoo. She loves to hear from people out there. You can read more about her at her website, Linda or her family foundation's website,