No one likes a cheater. Cheaters get banned, dragged through the mud and sometimes the things that they do make things complicated for those who choose to play the normal way. But is cheating really all that evil?
Can Cheating Change Games For The Better?
The world of cheating in #VideoGames isn't always black and white. For starters, the definition of a cheat hardly keeps the same shape. Depending on who you ask, even a walkthrough could qualify as a cheat, while others might see a walkthrough as some much needed help.
Is it about the player's personal experience or the way that others will see it? It depends on how you think about it.
Where Did It All Start?
Cheating has existed almost as long as video games have been around. They actually started out as tools for play-testing! Testing a level with all of the benchmarks and cutscenes on can become a pretty time-consuming experience in an industry where time is quite valuable. What's to be done? Enter developer cheats—game testers used these tools to make the process easier and remove or add various elements.
Initially, you could only make use of these cheats if you really knew your way around a computer. You often had to change files or type commands into special consoles.
Eventually they became more accessible and an entire culture developed around their use and discovery. Throughout the '80s, '90s and '00s, we saw everything from television shows to forums dedicated to making these exploits known.
Most modern games don't have cheats built into in them—at least not the way that we're used to. The really crazy cheats we see are usually ones that more tech-savvy players have discovered on their own. Sound familiar?
That may be where we are now but the debate surrounding the use of cheats continues to swell in a few different directions.
Some Cheats Save The Game
Developer tools, while meant for developers, can still do quite a lot for the player's experience when a game is either too punishing for a more casual user or lacks some balance all together. Too many tank enemies? Tweak a value in a certain file or download a trainer and that may not be a problem anymore.
It could be said that this form of cheating isn't as questionable as some other types. After all, the cheater's intentions are generally positive.
#TheSims community is known for its expansive mod library, but good old-fashioned cheats have also proven to be quite useful for players. When you start a new job, you're only making a few hundred simoleons a day—which seems nice because it's always quite a bit more than the comparable entry level jobs you find in real life. But, in actuality, this entry pay is never enough for your sim.
Eating out of your own fridge costs around 20 simoleons and the cost of virtually anything else your Sim can do for fun goes up from there. Pair that with need fulfillment, relationship maintenance, travel and whatever else you plan on doing and you've got a stagnant career and an empty wallet. Cheats like "kaching" (for 1,000 simoleans) and "motherlode" (50,000 simoleons) change that for the better. They turn four hours of misery into a three generation legacy run.
But that's not all they're good for, you know.
Some Cheats Keep Things Going
In many cases, gaming experiences tend to die when the story ends. I'm sure that there are some people out there who are entirely okay with this, but as games get more expensive, more and more people have become disillusioned with the fact that the stories just don't last long enough.
Though we've got #GTAV's Grand Theft Auto Online to occupy our time now, Grand Theft Auto games have been historically devoid of post-story activities. Flying cars, unlimited health and wacky physics cheats have been there to fill the void.
In the HD remaster of Resident Evil 0 we see the same wacky post-game employed by the developers to reward story completion and encourage replays. Once you've beaten the game, you are able to play through the entire thing with Wesker instead of Billy, complete with all of Wesker's virally-enhanced powers.
In situations like this, it's hard to frame cheats as the gamekillers that they're often viewed as. After all, it would appear that the developers just want us to love the game a little bit more! But when developers aren't at the helm, it changes things.
When Online, Things Are Less Straightforward
The type of cheating that proves to be most bothersome for players is the kind of cheating that pops up in online games. Why? Because it tends to ruin the average player's experience. This can be frustrating when online play is evaluated for badge or status upgrade reasons.
It makes sense that when some players gain unfair advantages by exploiting glitches or using cheats, others get a bit upset and develop a negative outlook on the use of cheats in games as a whole. Unsurprisingly it seems that opinions are more lenient when more people benefit from the spoils. It really makes me wonder if there can be balance in the world of cheating.
Where Is The Middle Ground?
As old-school cheating styles get thrown out in favor of more bulletproof video game models, it seems like our work is cut out for us. Cheating is hard for the uninitiated and, with penalties in place these days, mostly not worth it. After all, it takes a special caliber of spoilsport to engage in malicious cheating in the first place.
But every once in a while, especially in a Bethesda game, you find an exploit that makes your gaming experience a little more exciting. Extra EXP, easy money or whatever else suits your tastes—it will probably be there for a bit before a patch is rolled out. In Grand Theft Auto V, you can't really make use of the unlimited health and ammo cheats unless you're playing by yourself.
These are relatively harmless instances but you'll still see the judgment in the forums if you admit to taking part in these types of things.
So, how about this: If it's not changing anyone else's game, is the moral judgment really necessary? Are we just going to be the Ms. Crumplebottoms of gaming? When someone spawns 100 witches in a safe room, please do complain. But if it's not hurting our experiences, then maybe we should just let cheaters be cheaters, yeah?
How do you feel about a bit of "rosebud;!;!;;" here and there?