Ever since mankind began playing games, there have been people eager to break the rules to win. Whether it’s cheating with a dice, counting cards, or hitting a pinball machine with your hip, you can bet all you want: if there’s a game with probabilities, someone’s probably trying to tilt the odds to their side.
Cheating in video games has become a real trend. Specialized magazines were published that contained many tips and tricks on how to play the most popular games. Gradually, online games on consoles and PC moved from split-screen mode and LAN parties to the Internet, and cheats followed. And this is where the problems began. Cheating in a one- or two-player game is not a serious problem. But when it’s a massive online game and simple cheating can break the game mechanics? Appearing such a thing as FTP (Free to play) made understanding of cheating even more twisted. Could donations, loot boxes, and other ways to get things in-game be called ethical cheating or not? Let’s figure this out.
What did we call cheating?
Like any other kind of cheating, cheating exists for the sole purpose of getting something quickly and easily, which would take many times more time, effort, or money (and it’s not yet clear whether the desired result will be achieved at all) to win in an “honest” way. Regardless of the “prize” – it can be a record score, time, or simply a victory over your opponents – obtaining it brings some satisfaction, and the unfair path of potential cheaters is pushed by the desire for self-affirmation, coupled with uncertainty in the possibility (or unwillingness) to obtain it in an “honest” way.
What contributes to cheating is that it (like many other concepts in life practice) cannot be formally defined, and thus cannot be codified. The standard definition – “Cheating is gaining an unfair advantage in the game” – is not accurate, because it does not define “unfair”.Some “unfair” game mechanics have become standard (e.g. rocket jump and “jumping” in Quake).
In competitions, game errors are restricted by sport regulations.
In single-player games, the player, using “dishonest” tricks, cheats only himself (for experienced players, easy victory does not bring satisfaction), and therefore cheating is harmless. Often developers introduce cheat codes and leave them to the players. Of course, they make sure that these codes do not work in the online mode of the game.
In most online games there is always more or less competition between players, and achieving high results in it almost always involves a lot of effort and time (for example, the “development” of the average character in the MMORPG takes from several months to several years). No wonder that the ability to achieve the same (or even higher) results “quickly and easily” is perceived by “regular” gamers as an injustice that has to be dealt with in every possible way.
Cheating in video games is different, and so are the goals of the cheaters.
This niche of market thrives primarily on players who are willing to pay for utilities, hacks, trainers, and mods to arbitrarily change the difficulty of the game. Some justify themselves by trying to cheat the system rather than other players. Purposefully causing discomfort to users and its social, moral, and financial consequences for law-abiding companies and players is a topic of a separate conversation.
But the main idea of unethical cheating – to get financial profit from the online game. One way or another.
Some players even tried to use cheats during professional competitions. Like at the 2018 Extremesland Zowie Asia CS: GO tournament. The Professional player called “Forsaken” of OpTic Team used an aimbot (a special tool that helps you aim better) during the $100,000 tournament. That means a disastrous end to his career. But in such situations, the government can come to help. For example, in Japan, there is a law “On the Prevention of Unfair Competition. For its violation, it has already been repeatedly arrested and imprisoned sellers of various cheats.
Of course, game makers also see cheats as a source of profit. Instead of just giving away power-ups or improvements with secret commands, publishers sell them, and players happily buy them as DLC or in-game microtransactions. For example, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey gives players a 50 percent increase in experience generation, but not by entering commands or using some software, but for just $10.
The same with online services that could help players that have not enough time to go in raids or to develop their character in a certain way. For example, you can use World of Warcraft Shadowlands Sepulcher of the first ones heroic carry, it is almost the same as you give your character to play to your nephew or so.
Or you can buy Lootbox in Fortnite that can give you a piece of equipment unreachable for other players because developers allow you to do so.
Future of Cheating
Whether you use them or not, cheats remain an intractable aspect of modern games. They help developers test and debug software faster, and support players who can’t handle the complexity of the game.
There is cheating for fun and there is cheating to make money, and the last one is definitely not worth doing. However, when used cautiously and judiciously, cheats can make games convenient and fun for everyone.