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Cheating in Video Games: Is it that bad?

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I’ve got a confession to make: I’m a cheater. No, not on a significant other, a test, or a diet, but I am someone who does cheating in video games. I’m also not really ashamed of it.

No, I don’t mean in multiplayer games or online. I’ve never hacked my health in a Dark Souls duel or used an aim-bot or a speed-hack in a PvP game, but have I ever loaded Cheat Engine up on my PC, PokeSav’d some of those adorable little pocket monsters, or run a Game Genie or Gameshark? Sure. Definitely. It’s not the most uncommon thing to hear about, but if you tell someone that you’re cheating in a game, they almost seem offended. It’s as if you not putting in as much effort as they did is a personal slight.

I’ve got to ask though, if you change some values or run a script in a single player game, why is that frowned upon? There’s a great many reasons to do so, like time and effort. Yes, it’s admittedly very cheap to do such things, and you’re not going to feel like your earned it if you give yourself the ultimate weapon in Generic RPG Quest XXVI. However, what if you’re just tired of the game, and want to rush through it just to conclude the story you’ve spent some time with? If Item X in a game is really awesome, but requires grinding for Item Y and Z that only drop 0.05% of the time, is it really so bad to just give them to you? Or, as most cheats were back in the day, what if it just did something really awesome like a weapon that exploded all your enemies in a goretacular fashion, equipped restricted items to different characters just to see how it changed things, or gave you a Magmar in Pokemon with Heatran’s signature move just because you think it’d be neat? Is that so bad?

Let me continue with the Pokémon example then, but take it to a different place. Armed Gamer’s Emily Horton did a lovely piece on how the those wacky pokeymans fights have become such a serious and in-depth affair for the community. Players will spend hours to breed a ‘mon with certain moves and stats, then spend time training other values on it to specialize those stats, and repeat the process over and over until a competitive team is built. I’m proud of everyone who does that, and good on you. I don’t have the time or the patience to go through all of that, yet without doing all of those things I’ll get crushed in online battles. If there’s a way I can just create the pokémon team I want though, and it counts as legal under Nintendo’s programs to keep hacked teams from their field, then why not? I get to jump to the fun part of the game without doing the tedious stuff necessary to win; instead of treating it like a chore, cheating can help me play the game.

Is that really so bad? Well, some would say yes. Anything not intended by the developers is a very gray area, and everyone’s thoughts are different. I’m personally on team in-game exploits = ok; outright cheating = well, cheating. For everyone who’d agree with me though, others would cry foul, especially where a multiplayer game is involved. Find a broken mechanic on a class or boss in an MMO? I think you should be justified to use it, because you’re playing the system in-place, and it’d get patched out soon enough. However, you’ll find plenty of stories from people in games like World of Warcraft who were banned or punished in other ways for doing something like that. Is using an item that you obtained in a glitch really cheating, or does it just make you exceptionally lucky? When some bugs are penalized (randomly overpowered weapons dropping) while others are accepted (drop rates on rare items suddenly becoming 100%), it seems like we’re fine with a little cheating if many can do it, but not if only a handful of people have that option. A bug or an exploit should be the same, no matter how it is used. Creating unfair advantages against other people, however, is definitely not something we can just all though, because no one wants a game where one group of players can just faceroll the others using an exploit or glitch.

When you step away from your personal one-player games, cheating is a much larger issue to look at. There are some games I doubt I’d have stuck with  if it weren’t for the ability to do little exploits or hex-edit with. Not because they were bad games, but because having that option meant I could just skip a lot of the parts I thought were exceptionally dull, or I could finally get that one drop that wouldn’t ever drop for me. However, with networks,MMOs, leaderboards, and achievements, there’s all these other questions to think on. Is using a modded character or equipment in games like Borderlands or Torchlight with your friends okay? What about in an open online game? Should you lose your rewards for finding unintended ways to complete challenges in MMOs, even though others did it the “legitimate” way?

What are your thoughts on cheating, and do your thoughts change as the potential to connect with other players grows? In the meantime, if you’re wondering where this shotgun that fires rockets with unlimited ammo drops from…it was from Butt Stallion. Yeah. Maybe you’re just not lucky enough to get one.

About David A. Reeves

David is a 25 year old graduate with a BA in English, and he's wondering how all of this adult stuff crept up on him. He has a large love of Fire Emblem and Final Fantasy, a lack of budget sense during Steam sales, and is involved in an abusive relationship with the MMO genre. Outside of gaming, David can be found reading books with swords and magic, suffering from writer's block on that story he said he'd write, enjoying a hookah or a beer with friends, and trying not to say anything inappropriate despite the overwhelming urge. He's an odd fellow.

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  • Joshua Claassen

    The way I look at it is, if it’s a single-player game, why not go ahead? The only one you’re cheating is yourself. (Multiplayer cheats are a different issue–you have to okay it with your friends first. And online is probably straight out the door and into the street with your packed bag tossed after you–looking at _you,_ pay-to-win freemium games… >:-( )

  • Thomas Lee Howard

    Cheating is fine in games as long as it’s not online pvp games or in a co op type game where not everyone wants to cheat. Whenever cheating directly affects PvP gaming it tends to ruin all the fun for the many who don’t cheat.

  • Elyon McMickle

    I guess I feel like if you are cheating to complete the story line, it would be more enjoyable to watch a playthrough. Cheating ruins it for me, but I’m not bothered if you want to mod your games or whatever. Just don’t let your hacks make it to the PVP realm. Thats against every moral tenant I have.

    • Thomas Lee Howard

      Have you ever played a custom match of Halo 2 where every shotgun bb is a brute shot grenade, Tank shots produce a cluster bomb of frags, the ghosts shoot beam rifle shots, plasma rifles shoot plasma grenades, and plasma pistols shoot scarab shots? It’s amazing.

      • Elyon McMickle

        Oh yeah, see I think “mods” and “Cheating” should be clearly delineated. So long as the fun is happening, and everyone knows what they are in for, things like that are so awesome. Just don’t force your mods on the competitive scene, you know?

  • Rueben Brown

    Like everyone else has already said, cheating in PvP to give yourself a robot-like like advantage is a no-no, but means-to-an-end cheating I just don’t see as horribly wrong. Maybe it’s because I’ve entered college (and by extension the adult world) but since I no longer have the time to sit and grind out levels for anything, using a software to speed up the process to get to the higher play and meta games just makes me continue to want to play.

    One community I hate because of their views on cheating is the Runescape community. They work themselves into a frenzy over bots, but none of them seem to understand that the only thing a bot does is do the shit tons of clicking I don’t have time to do. I still have to pay money for my membership and it still takes the same total amount of time to get levels, I’m just able to do stuff along side of the grinding (I.E. irl work)

  • WK Seah

    Cause ‘cheating’ in Monster Hunter and making unrealistically powerful charm is a dead giveaway to tell others how much you suck. I do rather them to hack charms that have a more realistic value and say they want to avoid farming. The theory is this, if you don’t suck at the game, you don’t need to cheat in the game. Some players do have the ‘honorable gameplay’ mentality.

  • Adam Bajac

    I agree David; cheating in single player games is not at all bad in the slightest. On the contrary, after clearing a game, I often go back and “cheat” in it, vastly increasing it’s replay value. After all, seeing all the ways in which you can break a world, create glitches, be completely overpowered, to name a few, are all amazingly fun things to do – and having fun is the core of gaming. There’s literally zero point to game unless it’s fun, and grinding for rewards is not fun. Not for me at least.

    Regarding multiplayer games, I think it’s awesome when you see some League of Legends glitches or cheats in effect, as long as they were done in an non-competitive controlled environment, and everyone knows whats going on. I think cheating becomes wrong when giving yourself an unfair advantage against a fellow human player. For example, actually trying to use these cheats or glitches to advance oneself into higher tiers, get in-game rewards, or using them to grief other players is not acceptable conduct.

  • Michael Giza

    Attention to those that use aim-bots, speed mods, or other mods in racing games and FPS, shame on you when you use those against other players. Yeah, you know exactly who you are. Also, those of you that use TB or Triton headsets because you want to hear everything. Thats just as bad as using a modded controller for a full auto semi auto gun in CoD, BF, etc. Its cool on PvE, not PvP.