Exploratory Modding

This project chronicles several months’ worth of artistic research conducted through modifications of the videogame NBA2k16, the most popular simulatory basketball videogame in the world. Exploratory modding offers an ‘impure’ model of practice-based research, that eschews ‘clean’ hypotheses and methods in favor of curiosity, playfulness, and messy exploration. Through the creation of machinima, digital photography, and artistic interventions, this research practice not only revealed a wide variety of technological glitches, complicated player behaviors, and artistic affordances, but also unexpected and surprising information about cheating, non-male gender representation, and a community of players that could not distinguish between the two.

Participating Researchers

Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz (RUST LTD. and USC)


  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. “Engendering Questions: The Use of Female Avatars in NBA 2k16”. Preparing for submission.
  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. “Scan Quality Great: Exploratory Modding in NBA 2k16”. In progress.

Public Talks and Presentations

  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. “Making Meaning: Participation, Personal Expression, and Fate in Games and Interactive Media”. 2016 Cultural Rhetorics Conference, Michigan State Univ., East Lansing, MI, 02 October 2016.
  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. “Impure Research: Exploratory Modding in NBA2k16’’. UCLA Participation Lab, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, 07 Nov. 2016.
  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. “Roundtable on Hactivist Gaming”. Pitzer College, Claremont, CA, 15 April 2016.

Artistic Output

  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. Scan Quality: Great. Artist’s Book. Forthcoming 2018.
  • Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz, Adam. Untitled Machinima Collection. In Progress.
  • Dietrich, Craig, and Adam Sulzdorf-Liszkiewicz. “Two Lemons Discuss a Glitch in NBA 2k16”. Published to YouTube, 30 April 2017.


  • Image Gallery (forthcoming)
  • Machinima Gallery (forthcoming)


(213) 986-5689


1600 Campus Road
Los Angeles, CA 90041
United States of America