Video Game Problems: The FPS Cheater

An opinion on cheaters on FPS games
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If you’ve stopped by the PC Gamer website lately, you may have spotted an in-depth article detailing an investigation by Emanuel Maiberg into the business of video game cheating. Aside from being an insight into the selling and using of cheats that you should most definitely read, the article persuaded me to finally put my own thoughts down about the cheating that occurs in video games.

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Like many, I have been unfortunate to experience what it’s like to play against what is possibly the most irritating type of player: the blatantly obvious cheater. I’m sure many of you know the one, the kind of player that stands somewhere spinning around firing off head shots into every player unfortunate enough to spawn. The first few times I encountered such players I would leave the game and play elsewhere, as you would expect most sensible people to do.

In the last couple of years, however, I’ve taken a different approach when I’ve met them. The first step is to stop spawning, so that I am no longer fueling their enjoyment at spoiling everyone’s fun. The second thing I do is to start talking to them.

Getting inside a cheater’s mind

That’s right, I talk to them. I’ll be completely honest, it is generally a completely futile experience. Most of the responses follow the general rule of either being an attempt to make me react, or simply being a complete denial of any wrongdoing. Sometimes one is followed almost instantaneously by the other, not dissimilar to, and I quote, “I’m not cheating.. Lol, cri moar.” These kind of cheaters are difficult to get into any kind of conversation with, although they do occasionally change after a few attempts at getting through.

The ones that are willing to talk provide an interesting view inside the mind of someone who is willing to cheat. The most common reasons tend to be that the player has either simply got bored of playing the game and can only find entertainment in cheating, or those that simply take enjoyment from spoiling the game for everyone else and getting a reaction.

Whilst you might not see the difference between those points of view, there is a fine line between them. Whilst I don’t condone either, I can somewhat understand the first reasoning.

If you’ve ever played through a single player game (and I’m sure you have), upon its completion you might have found yourself wondering how to get further enjoyment out of it. Replaying the entire game again might be fun for a short time, but eventually you might find yourself looking up hidden parts of the game; secrets, easter eggs, and of course, the cheat codes.

If you ever found yourself using those cheat codes, you might see where I’m going with this. I know that my 12-year-old self found the various cheat commands in Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast. Upon playing around with them, I found a whole new experience within this game: the ability to spawn in vast arrays of enemies, as well as unlimited ammo and the old favourite that is God Mode.

The key part of that experience is that the various cheats stopped me from getting bored of a game that I loved. I wasn’t playing the game the way it was designed, I was playing as an all-powerful guy; unbeatable and indestructible. Sure I got bored eventually, but the game lasted longer because of it.

The only real difference between using those cheats and using an aimbot in a multiplayer game is that there are other people being affected. If that 12-year-old boy hadn’t known that it was wrong to spoil other people’s fun, would he have been against using cheats against real people instead of bots?

As you can hopefully guess I never desired the ability to cheat in multiplayer games, and grew out of enjoying cheat codes in single player games shortly after Jedi Outcast. My seven years of playing various online FPS games have seen me join many communities, make great friends, and improve my ability by playing with some very good players. The things that make online gaming so great are almost completely unobtainable for people using cheats, which makes it very hard to understand why they would do it.

How do you solve a problem like a cheater?

I long for the day that those people who use cheats out of boredom will see that they are destroying a great pastime for many, and as naïve as it is, I’d like to think that many will grow out of it.

Unfortunately, I can see that those who genuinely enjoy ruining everyone else’s fun will still exist and are likely to never go away. But maybe, just maybe, we can get by and avoid that minority.

For the ones that don’t grow out of cheating, how do you stop them? It’s mostly common knowledge among regular players of FPS games that the anti-cheat measures in place in generally ineffective, too slow and unlikely to catch any but the more blatant cheaters. Of course they do catch many players, but it’s often too late to stop the fun being ruined.

Unfortunately they are all we have for the moment, at least until some clever fellow comes up with a way to detect any and all modifications to the game while it’s running (regardless of whether the cheat is running locally or remotely)

Until then, maybe the key lies in communication. If we can help these players to understand that what they are doing is wrong, while they are still in the early stages of cheating in Single Player games, maybe we can stop at least a few people from spoiling everybody else’s fun.

Do you think it’s possible to stop people cheating in games? What would you do if you were tasked to stop them? Let me know in the comments.

There are of course many other side to the cheating story whether it’s cheating in other genres, disabled gamers using them to have a chance to enjoy a game, or the innocent players that are wrongly accused of cheating. But those can be discussed another time.

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A lover of great games, whether big names or little Indies, the important part is the enjoyment. A casual interest in writing articles and making videos.