Generate Randomized Game: The Ambivalences of Online ROM-Patching Applications is a conference paper presented at the 2019 Symposium Histoire du Jeu (Game Histories Conference) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is based upon interviews and game analysis that I completed during my master’s degree, in which I studied videogame hacking subcultures, and primarily discusses the community values that inform “randomizers,” a popular type of online videogame ROM-patching application.
The main argument behind this presentation is that members of these randomizer communities — which include a diverse array of videogame hackers and players — simultaneously oppose and perpetuate strategies of publisher control. This is accomplished in a variety of ways, with one of the most prominent tactics being the obfuscation of the hardware and software roots of videogame hacking. These subcultures of videogame hacking wish to conceal materials that, under a maximalist interpretation of intellectual property law, are considered to be illicit to acquire, alter, or redistribute.