It’s a common misconception that cheating within video gaming has suddenly risen with the introduction of online gaming to the casual market. However, this is not the case and the cold hard fact is that cheating has existed in video gaming for almost its entire history.
The first cheat codes were put in place so that playtesters could rigorously test mechanics within games, a positive move to ensure that games would not be flawed/ suffer from technical issues, and yet from this positive implementation cheating has become a popular part of the gaming culture.
For anyone around my age or maybe a little older I’m sure you will remember owning a Nintendo Entertainment System and whilst shopping for your next game to add to your shelf, along with the Super Mario Bros and legend of Zelda cartridge, discovering the “Game Genie”. For those of you who are not old enough to remember this the Game Genie was a cartridge add on that connected to your game cartridge and then was inserted into the console. Upon turning the console on you would enter cheat codes which would allow you to have unlimited lives, energy and many more other options.
The positives of the cheat codes and cartridges of the past is they did not intrude on other gamers experiences as these games were mainly single player and certainly not online games. In essence the only person who was being cheated was the person using the codes or cartridge itself as it was their game experience that was being affected.
Fast forward to the current generation of gamers and you’ll find that the average gamer will have a console that is connected to the online world of gaming and this is where cheating begins to take very negative roll within the gaming community. If you’ve played a game like Call of Duty, Battlefield, FIFA, or any other online multiplayer game the chances are you will have experienced a cheater gaining an unfair advantage, even if you did not notice it. This is where cheating has become a real thorn in the sides of gamers and developers alike.
With online gaming having become mainstream and all consoles now offering online gaming it’s no surprise that some people have started to look for any way to gain an advantage against their opponents, even if its an unfair one. With games developers having realised the obvious problem of cheaters almost all games do not allow cheat codes to be used during online gaming, however this has not stopped the cheaters from finding ways to gain their advantage.
It’s not that hard for experienced or tech savvy gamers to find glitches, bugs or faults within game design, exploit them to gain an unfair advantage and with the internet being available to almost every gamer these exploiters/cheaters can easily share the things that they discover. This has led to a culture of cheating within multiplayer games with these gamers creating mods, sharing exploits and generally teaching other gamers how to gain an unfair advantage over the genuine fair gamers. A great example of modding is how in FIFA 11 modders were using a USB stick and a few free programs to modify a file and transfer it onto their console in order to give them a player that was otherwise unachievable and far superior to the gamers who did not cheat.
So at this point I ask myself, why do gamers do this and what is my stance on cheaters? Well, to me cheating ruins any game, maybe it’s my age or maybe it’s the manner in which I was raised but cheating to me is wrong. I can honestly say that when I was younger I had a Game Genie, used cheat codes and generally didn’t mind cheating if I got stuck on a game, however, as I’ve moved into online gaming I have always avoided using any form of cheats as I found it to be cheap and unfair. So I come to the conclusion that online gaming has driven the younger generation of gamers to become so competitive that they can no longer accept losing. It’s not a surprise that nobody enjoys losing but it seems that the more I experience cheaters and get to talk to them the more I realise just how bad they are at losing, or even not winning. It reminds me of the saying I’ve seen many times on the back of a no fear t-shirt, “Second place is the first loser!”.
Having been on the wrong end of cheaters so many times I think it has driven me to have a no tolerance stance on cheaters and so I was impressed with Infinity Ward when I read about how they had banned a player called “HotShot_01” for 5000 days (14 years) from Modern Warfare 3 after he was caught boosting. Whilst I think this is great I can also understand why some developers tend to try and ignore when they have a cheating problem as by banning people they are essentially banning the people that have bought their game and alienating them from buying future games. In a perfect world all gamers who cheat to gain an unfair advantage would be banned permanently but at what point does a company make a decision to essentially lose a customer and does this mean that the only games that will punish cheaters are those that can afford to lose a few customers in the first place?