This week I am taking a break from my normal fairy tale fare to blog about a topic that has to do with the “other” thing I write – middle grade fiction geared towards boys. Hence, I am asking is video game cheating fair?
Video game cheats are extremely popular. Don’t believe me? Just type “video game cheats” into the google search bar and see how many things pop up. Now I don’t really play many video games (PAC-MAN and Centipede arcade-style is about my speed), but my husband is a video game addict. Which leads me to the topic du jour. He believes that you shouldn’t use video game cheats at all . . . in multi-player games.
But lots of kids today use them. How fair is that? And is there a difference in how video cheats are used? They exist, and in some instances are built into the games. So why would the game developers put video cheats in the programming if they didn’t expect people to use them?
And for those of you who don’t know what video game cheats are, let me explain. Video game cheating allows gamers to use non-standard methods of game play to gain some advantage or make the game easier. Game cheats have existed ever since video games were invented and often used cheat codes. Today, many game makers no longer include cheat codes embedded in their games, but there are other methods many tech savvy gamers employ. I will not go into detail here.
The moral conundrum comes into play with how game developers are implementing their oversight of cheating in today’s online multi-player games. In the past, sure, you could use a cheat code and win your little single-player video game in the privacy of your own living room and who cared? It was your game and you were the only one affected. Well, except maybe your brother, who didn’t know the cheat code and was sort of miffed that you totally smoked him. But now there’s literally a whole world of gamers out there playing the exact same game with you online via multi-player. So if you use a wallhack (a type of game cheat) and Joe Dontknow in Idaho doesn’t even know what a wallhack is, let alone how to use one, the question becomes, is that really fair?
Not at all seems to be the response from most of the gaming community. However, game developers are starting to walk a questionable line when it comes to what is and isn’t fair. Take EA’s NHL 13 for example. The Be a Pro mode lets you play the entire game as one position. However, EA will sell you “cheats” that will let you move slightly faster or have a more accurate shot. So now when you play Joe Dontknow from Idaho head-to-head online, you have an advantage via the “cheats” you purchased from EA. How fair is that? And this is something totally condoned by the gaming industry.
This response seems to imply that the gaming industry does not condemn cheating so long as they make a profit from it.
Diablo 3 is another example. Let’s backtrack for a second, however. With Diablo 2, there was all sorts of cheating going on. Diablo 2 could be played as either a single-player game at home or online as a multi-player game. As stated before, who cares if you used game cheats with the single-player game. But when people took their single-player game cheats online, it moved into the realm of the commonly unacceptable. To counter the cheating, Blizzard (the maker of the Diablo games) decided to add in an anti-cheating filter online for the new Diablo 3, but which also requires everyone playing the game to be online at all times. But, wait! You just want to play Diablo 3 by yourself as a single-player game. So why should you be forced to play online when you only want to play by yourself? And why should you be forced NOT to use your tech savvy game cheats on your own game when it doesn’t affect anyone else at all? And what about when you want to take the game with you to the airport to kill time on that flight? Too bad – you will either have to pay extra for the privilege of going online or accept no internet connection.
Even gamers agree there should be some standard of fair play for multi-player game options, but should the gaming industry really play the part of Big Brother when it comes to what you do with your game when not interacting with others?
So, is it fair? I know what I think, but I toss the question back at you. If someone is tech savvy enough to program themselves an advantage, I mean, it is their game that they bought with their own money that they’re modifying. So long as they do it on their own game not affecting anyone else, why should game makers be allowed to dictate how the gamer plays the game?
And what about the seeming promotion of cheating by some companies who are willing to sell “cheats” to gamers willing to pay extra for the advantage? Is that really fair?
So, I leave it up to you. Is cheating fair? Leave your comments in the comment cloud at the top of this post and win me over to whatever side you take.