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Robert Lashley: Why Cheat?

Columns By Robert Lashley on February 25, 2015

Why Cheat?

People cheat. That fact is nothing new and just about everyone does it at some point in their life. Don’t believe me? Just ask the IRS. I don’t foresee by bringing up the topic of cheating in my column that I’ll be able to change anything. I don't imagine it will even prevent one of you from cheating in the future. I do, however, believe it is a dialogue worth having and hope you’ll humor me for a few minutes. I’m interested in your input.

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Some people believe as long as you are having fun you are playing a game correctly. To an extent I largely agree with that. If you are playing D&D and you have a house rule where you change how critical damage is decided, or if you want to start off with 20th level characters and have magic items galore you should be able to. As long as you and your group are having fun I agree you are doing it right. Purists will argue that anytime you start off above level one you are doing it wrong but in the end are you hurting anyone? Probably not.

I’ll even extend that example to single player computer games or a cooperative game where you can change the rules. Think about the Konami Code. Does anyone really care if you “cheated” and started Contra with 30 extra lives? What if you used it in Gradius and had all the powerups? Did you really affect anyone else? No, you were playing the game to have fun. You were not hurting anyone. Galoob even turned hacking your console games into a business with the Game Genie. Nintendo Power even provided you with cheat codes to their games in Classified Information.

But what about online multiplayer games? What about those that have a focus on competition? Why cheat in those? In a single player game you are cheating the computer to accomplish a goal. Sometimes with the help of your friends. In the end there really isn’t a victim. But can the same be said about online multiplayer games? By its competitive nature if you win, doesn’t someone have to lose? If you resorted to winning by cheating, where is the value in that? Can you really even derive satisfaction from knowing you cheated online in a game that really doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things?

While I was reading a thread on Reddit earlier today posted by one of the H1Z1 developers I came up with the idea to talk about cheating as my topic this week. It turns out that if you like a game and cheat, you really aren’t a winner. In the end everyone loses including you. What you may fail to realize is that when you are botting or aim hacking or attempting to play the game in anyway that was not originally intended by the developer you are diverting resources away from the developer creating things you want them to for the game you choose to play. While you are wondering when the next patch is going to drop so you can learn that crafting recipe for molotov cocktails the developers are thinking, “gee that would be a great feature to add in,” but they are too busy writing code to catch speed hackers.

The examples of cheating are endless and this is not a new problem. Some players simply want to cheat to see if they can get away with it. Other players simply want to have fun at someone else's expense. After all like Alfred said, “some men just want to watch the world burn.” If you are one of the players that enjoys a competitive multiplayer game and you are thinking about using an aim assist, next time ask yourself, why cheat? What’s the point? In the end it just seems more like everyone losses.

Robert Lashley / Rob is a Staff Writer and jack of all trades for MMORPG.com. When he isn’t blinding people with the glare from his head in front of a camera you can chase him down on Twitter, PSN, XBL, and Nintendo @rant_on_rob.