That is the question. Alas poor Gordon Freeman, I knew him well.
Should we feel guilty cheating while playing computers games? Well if you are playing online against other players, then probably yes, it's not fair and it annoys other gamers1.
But what about if you are playing with yourself2. Are you really hurting anyone?
Serious gamers will probably tell you that to cheat is to skip the whole point of the game. The Gordon Freeman quote refers, for those who don't know, to Half Life, arguably one of the most ground breaking (and hardest) games released in recent years. Most players resorted to cheating because, frankly, there was little chance of them ever completing the game otherwise.
Recreational gamers will tell you that cheating is a natural thing to do, and if we weren't meant to cheat, why are the cheat codes in the game in the first place3.
However some recent games, such as the Project IGI series and Allied Assult do not have any cheats in them4. This forces the player to play for real, without the comforting relaxation that comes from knowing that you can't get killed.
Does cheating get you anywhere? Obviously, it gets you to the end of the game, but is that all? What are you learning? By cheating, you are removing most of the challenge from the game, and where's the fun in that?
Some games are so fun and addictive that players often get sidetracked. An example would be the Grand Theft Auto 3 game where you play a gangster, get to steal cars and run amok. Many people found that just 'mucking about' in the vast city was far more fun than doing the 'proper' missions. I myself still haven't completed the game, I keep getting distracted.
Of course there are some completely online games like Star Wars Galaxies, or the upcoming Matrix Online, where you interact with other players also online. In this arena cheating becomes irrelevant, as you are working in an online community to achieve a goal, which may mean you are working with or against other players.
Do cheaters behave differently in real life from non-cheaters? Does someone who cheats in games also cheat in life, ie steal, lie, deceive,
Does cheating alter the way you view real life, or does real life influence whether you cheat or not?
Gamers who cheat may do so for several reasons.
- It's frustrating playing a level for the seventeenth time, only to be killed - AGAIN.
- They may not have much free time to play and may want to get something done.
- They may not see cheating as 'bad', because where's the harm.
- They may want to progress in the storyline of the game.
Storylines in games can be quite addictive, like cliffhangers in soap operas. The plotline in the game TRON 2.0 was very compelling. I couldn't stop playing the game.
Non-cheaters like playing the game to challenge themselves, to test how good they are at playing the game. The more difficult the game, the more likely they are to persevere with it until they complete it.
For them, cheating is not even a choice. After all 'what's the point?' The game is supposed to be difficult, cheating removes the point of the game.
This argument may seem simple, because it is. Non-cheaters see it in these terms.
Of course there are some games where you cannot cheat, such as war games like Allied Assault, which try to make the simulation as real as possible for the player. In this case, putting cheat codes in the game would completely defeat the purpose.
There are other games like The Sims, where cheating is possible, but slightly irrelevant as it doesn't make the game any easier, because there is no 'end condition'. In other words, there is no end to the game, you can play it forever.
- Codes that you type in to activate something, like invulnerability - often called GOD MODE
- And trainers, a separate program that you run that gives you cheats during the game by pressing keys, usually something like CTRL+F2.