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Many people play video games for the thrill of it. Maybe they enjoy an engrossing, replayable story, or they want a power fantasy that focuses on combat, spectacle, and shotguns. And, if the vanilla experience doesn’t tickle the adrenal gland enough, you can always mod the game.

Mods are fun little tweaks to a title’s code that alter the experience in a variety of ways. Since code is the lifeblood of video games, literally anything can change thanks to a mod. Players can replace character models to alter a game’s tone, such as the "Resident Evil Village" baby mod that inserts an infant’s face in the spot where Chris Redfield’s head should be. They can even reintroduce cut content, as seen with the "Cyberpunk 2077" romance mod that allows a male V to pursue Judy Alvarez. However, the unsung heroes of the community are the wholesome mods.

Say you are playing an open world game that prides itself on systems and mechanics that let players interact with the world, but it doesn’t have an option to pet dogs. That’s when modders step in to inject a dose of much-needed humanity. Giving canines the proper amount of affection is just one of many ways modders have helped make games more warm and fuzzy.

Shirley – A Skyrim Follower Mod – The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

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No matter where you go, grandmothers are some of the most wholesome people on the planet. They bake cookies and pay you handsomely to shovel their driveways, and in video games, they cut off the heads of bandits, trolls, and everything else in your way.

The vanilla version of "The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim" has numerous followers, all in the prime of their youth. Many "Skyrim" mods add custom companions, all similarly virile, but "Shirley – A Skyrim Follower Mod" adds in the game’s oldest ally, Shirley. As you may have guessed, the mod’s star character is based on the real Skyrim Grandma, Shirley Curry. The mod captures her appearance and wholesome attitude, thanks in no small part to a generous helping of dialogue voiced by Grandma Curry herself. It also adds a new cottage where players can find Shirley resting her feet, and asks players to fulfill a simple quest before she will join them on their journeys.

While "Shirley – A Skyrim Follower Mod" lets players continue their murderhobo rampages across the northern province of Tamriel, the mod introduces a bit of grandmotherly love by adding one of (if not the most) wholesome follower to grace any "Elder Scrolls" game. What’s not to appreciate about an ally who maxed out their skill trees in both archery and crocheting?

I’m Glad You’re Here – The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim

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The road to save the world is a lonely one, so many video games introduce side characters who lighten the protagonist’s load. In some titles, these followers have side stories and personalities that bounce off the main character, while others are little more than digital pack mules that protagonists might marry later on. How does one show their appreciation for the latter? With mods.

The "I’m Glad You’re Here" mod for "The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim" is an unofficial add-on that lets players hug their followers. The mod is short and sweet but far more in-depth than it seems. Instead of just letting players hug NPCs, clipping be damned, the mod offers several animations depending on the level of intimacy and heights of the compatriots. And, each gesture is accompanied by special dialogue.

"I’m Glad You’re Here" also extends to adopted children and pets. Gamers can use the add-on to embrace their adopted children and also pet their loyal dogs. But, users who don’t like hugging and want to maintain a tough-guy persona aren’t abandoned. The mod also lets players salute their followers, who return the favor.

The job of being a hero is hard. Sometimes, you just need to hug it out.

Dokis & Dragons – Doki Doki Literature Club

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You might not expect a Japanese dating sim to be one of the best horror games, but that’s exactly what you get with "Doki Doki Literature Club." The title lures players with the promise of cute, anime schoolgirls, only to blindside them with psychological horror that sledgehammers the fourth wall with creative scares. But, what would happen if "Doki Doki Literature Club" lived up to its seemingly innocent premise? It would certainly be more wholesome, that’s for sure.

"Dokis & Dragons," as the mod’s title suggests, changes the titular Doki Doki Literature Club into the Doki Doki RPG Club. Instead of gathering to write poetry (and terrify audiences), the characters meet to pour over pen-and-paper RPGs. "Dokis & Dragons" name-drops a few popular titles, but the meat of the mod is a totally-not disturbing sample of a "Dungeons & Dragons" session.

For most of "Dokis & Dragons," players experience a limited, on-rails "D&D" gameplay session. No dice rolls and no character creation, just a few choices that determine whether the protagonist’s character lives or dies in a fictional game where nothing is at stake. The only objective problem with "Dokis & Dragons" is its short length and lack of replayability. That, and the player character is named Kirito, so gamers who dislike "Sword Art Online" beware.

Kepler Observation Unit – Friday Night Funkin

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"Friday Night Funkin" was designed for modding. The base game is a fun, if short, "Dance Dance Revolution"-like experience that tasks players with beatboxing their way out of battlefields, haunted game consoles, and the clutches of demonic parents. To get their money’s worth, players need to install mods for extra songs and challenges. Some of the best mods, such as the Tricky Mod, continue the trend of fighting off musical threats to life and limb (accompanied by rad music), but another popular mod takes a step back and just lets the main characters relax to some stellar tracks.

One of the most wholesome mods for "Friday Night Funkin" is "Kepler Observation Unit," which sees the main characters, Boyfriend and Girlfriend, sneak into an observatory late at night. Normally, this would result in them bumping into a missile-powered defense system or secret alien invasion. Instead, they encounter KOU, an android who loves observing outer space and wants to tell them about it in song.

Not only does KOU look cute due to his design, but his songs are some of the most pleasant in the game’s ever-growing library. These tunes have an upbeat vibe that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hatsune Miku concert. The "Kepler Observation Unit” mod is a welcome breath of fresh, wholesome air. Players can only escape death using the power of vocal cords and arrow keys so many times before they need a break.

Skinned Carts – Minecraft

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"Minecraft" was designed to encourage creativity, and to be fair, many block-brain savants have built some insane creations in the game. If players visit the right world, they can find sprawling pop-culture metropolises, working computers, and functional Game Boys. But, even the most impressive creations are nothing more than digital Pointillism — they only take shape when viewed from a distance. Those who want to display creativity on the microscopic, single-asset level might need a mod.

One of the most wholesome mods for "Minecraft" is "Skinned Carts." As the name suggests, it is a simple skin add-on that alters the appearance of the game’s mine carts. The mod offers a variety of skins to choose from, including adorable ducks, pandas, snails, and elephants. The skins only add the new animal-themed colors and shapes to the carts; a duck cart will never quack unless modded further.

Since these mod skins are just, well, skins, their wholesome mileage varies depending on how they are used. If builders just shoehorn this mod into their "Minecraft" world, yea, the carts are still wholesome, but they could be even more so. If players build a cute, friendly theme park world and use the skins to decorate the carts in a roller coaster, then the wholesome level shoots up several stories.

Like everything in "Minecraft," the "Skinned Carts" mod is a tool. Its wholesomeness is dulled or sharpened depending on the user.

Pet Any Dog – Fallout 4

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Dogs are man’s best friends. They helped humans with hunting back when we still lived in caves, and all they ever ask for in return is food, love, and belly rubs. Odds are dogs will continue to be loyal companions long after civilization crumbles into irradiated rubble. Not all games that take place in this hypothetical future let players reassure their programmed puppy pals that their loyalty is reciprocated. When game developers fail in that regard, modders pick up the slack.

Canine companions are a recurring theme throughout the "Fallout" storyline. Every faithful furry follower aids in combat, and the developers went all-in to produce Dogmeat, the dog in "Fallout 4." However, they forgot to program in a pet button, so fans created the "Pet Any Dog" mod. As you’ve probably guessed, the add-on lets players pet friendly or neutral dogs.

In order to pet a dog with the mod, players first need to sink at least one point into the Animal Friend perk, which makes every dog in the game at least neutral. Afterwards, it’s as easy as approaching the dog and pressing the correct interact button to initiate a mini-cutscene. Just don’t try to pet a dog while in combat.

With any luck, Bethesda will code petting dogs into "Fallout 5" when the game eventually releases.

Isabelle DooM Companion – Doom 2

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"Doom" is a series about waging a merciless, one-man war against the forces of Hell. Players are given an arsenal of weapons and ammo, and it’s almost a rite of passage among coders to mod a "Doom" game. The most popular mods add new weapons and increase gore levels well past campy B movie slasher territory. The word "wholesome" doesn’t come to mind when you think about "Doom," but neither did "Animal Crossing" until 2020.

One of the most creative and wholesome "Doom" mods to hit the internet is the "Isabelle DooM Companion" mod. Instead of trying to make the world of "Doom 2" more wholesome, the mod adds an invincible NPC in the form of Isabelle from "Animal Crossing," who aids in the wholesale slaughter of demons. She keeps players topped up on health, ammo, and armor pickups, but she isn’t just a pocket medic/ammunition dispenser.

Isabelle actively kills demons with her own shotgun, as well as the world’s deadliest squeaky hammer and confetti blaster. Oh, and she occasionally tidies up and asks for a high-five, which players can freely give, much to Isabelle’s joy. Alternatively, if the Doom Marine dies while using this mod, Isabelle cries. Shame on anyone who makes Isabelle cry.

Kermit the Frog – Super Smash Bros.

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Masahiro Sakurai can only fit so many characters into each "Super Smash Bros." entry, and when a fan favorite isn’t included, coders take it upon themselves to mod them into the game. For example, before Sakurai caved to fan demand and brought Ridley to "Smash," modders took multiple stabs at the purple space dragon. Many passionate programmers also produced simple skins that transformed existing characters, and some of their ideas are surprisingly wholesome — or just downright surprising.

If you browse the mod database for "Super Smash Bros.," the last thing you might expect is a mod that replaces Ryu with Kermit the Frog. You might wonder how such a skin could be wholesome since Ryu is a martial artist who can toss fireballs and deliver sternum-shattering blows, and the mod doesn’t change any of that. The answer lies in the voice.

The Kermit mod goes the extra mile to insert new voice lines into the game, but instead of ripping old clips of Kermit from past "Muppet" properties, it features someone trying their darndest to mimic Kermit’s unique timbre while delivering Ryu’s lines. Yes, someone recorded themselves screaming "Hadoken" and "Shoryuken" in their best Kermit impersonation for this mod. There’s just something wholesome about hearing an actor pour their all into this kind of work, and you can’t help but crack a smile.

The Kermit mod comes in two flavors: "Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U" and "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate." The "Ultimate" edition improves on the "Wii U" version with a new character icon, victory theme, and announcer call. All it’s missing is the official blessing of Sakurai.

Pokemon Sweet Version – Pokémon

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"Pokémon" is an extremely popular franchise, and virtually every gamer has tried to design new Pokémon and/or dreamed of developing an official entry in the series. But, applying to The Pokemon Company International and Game Freak is extremely difficult, so the closest most audiences will get to working on a "Pokémon" game is making their own. These full conversion mods/rom hacks vary wildly in tone and quality, so some are inevitably more wholesome than others.

"Pokemon Sweet Version" is a brand-new adventure in an alien land where everything, including the Pokémon, is candy themed. The result is a saccharine experience bound to give gamers diabetes. Instead of creating new Pokémon (colloquially known as Fakemon), "Sweet Version" changes all its Pokémon into punny candy and confection-based creatures. For example, players don’t fight Raticates in "Sweet Version;" they fight Raticakes. And instead of catching Piplups, players catch Lolliplups.

This extensive rom-hack doesn’t just change Pokémon forms and names, though; it goes the full sugar-coated mile and replaces the standard Pokémon elements with its own dessert-themed types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. Players need to memorize an entirely new effectiveness chart, all while commanding some of the cutest Pokémon this side of a Johto nursery.

Garry’s Mod – Valve’s Source Engine

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Depending on one’s coding skills, virtually anything can happen in a mod. Logically, this also means certain mods can break down the game so effectively that players can do almost anything in them. You can’t get more wholesome than creating your own fun.

"Garry’s Mod" should be familiar to almost anyone with a Steam account. This stand-alone product began life as a mod for Valve’s Source Engine and transformed it into a virtual Lego sandbox. Players can Frankenstein together thousands of assets and models to create their own wild and wacky abominations against common sense and physics. The more inventive the player, the crazier the contraptions. In some rare instances, players used the game engine as a blank canvas to invent whole new game modes.

The "Garry’s Mod" servers are host to a variety of unique experiences that either draw from other titles or have been adopted in subsequent games. Players can run around labyrinths of boxes and lay down explosive watermelons in competitive matches of Melonbomber, and if they are in the mood for something a little more party-oriented, they can queue up for a friendly, couch-smashing match of Prop Hunt. Or, players can just pretend they are back in movie theaters surrounded by friends and the smell of buttered popcorn with Cinema.

"Garry’s Mod" might not let players pet dogs, but they can use it to construct giant, rocket-powered scrap metal dogs with gnome statues for ears.

Friendly Wolves – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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In "The Witcher" franchise, Geralt of Rivia is also known as the "White Wolf" because of his white hair, loyalty to the School of the Wolf, and wolf medallion. He did not earn that nickname due to animal husbandry. One modder decided to change that.

The "Friendly Wolves" mod for "The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt" does as its name suggests and makes all wolves in the game friendly. They will never attack Geralt, instead actively helping him in combat, and players don’t have to worry about collateral damage. No matter how wildly you fight, you cannot kill wolves thanks to this mod. Anyone who goes wandering into the woods with "Friendly Wolves" active will get to see them running and rolling around, which is a far more wholesome cry from their normal behavior of attacking Geralt on sight.

Moreover, the mod comes with a few extra files to tweak the experience. Don’t want wolves to help in battle but don’t want them to initiate it either? "Friendly Wolves" lets users turn them neutral. Don’t want domesticated cats or dogs to accidentally die in the crossfire of a swordfight? Add the "Friendly Cats and Dogs" file to the mod. Like bears? Insert a file to the mod that also makes bears friendly/neutral.

You might not be able to pet the wolves in the "Friendly Wolves" mod, but at least you don’t have to worry about them using Geralt’s femur as a chew toy, either.

Mr. Friendly – Doom

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It doesn’t matter if a "Doom" mod showers players in more blood than usual or transforms the experience into a "Castlevania"-themed first person whipper; gamers expect these mods to be violent and difficult. Easy mode and "Doom" do not mix — unless you’re talking about mods.

"Mr. Friendly" is a quaint little mod that places players in the nonexistent shoes of a floating Lost Soul. Normally, every Lost Soul’s mission is to hunt down the Doom Slayer/Doom Marine and kill him in a blaze of kamikaze glory. But, "Mr. Friendly" flips the script and asks players to help demons in a variety of fetch quests, complete with bizarre, cutesy nicknames for normal items. Shotgun shells? That’s boom seeds to you, Mr. Friendly.

As one content creator put it, "Mr. Friendly" is like "Animal Crossing" but without the crushing mortgage payments. In the mod, players can fly around levels to their heart’s content, swap textures, and go fishing in pools of radioactive waste. Just don’t ask how a Lost Soul can hold a fishing rod without hands.

"Mr. Friendly" is a laid-back experience that lets players goof off in a "Doom"-themed world without worry. Instead of players having to match the mod’s pace, they can take in a wholesome environment that unfolds at their leisure.