August 28, 2006

Anomaly, Or An Accurate Reflection Of Reality? [8:25 am]

As we see increasing development of the multiplayer game as something more that just a game, here’s a pending conflict that’s going to have to get resolved: In Game World, Cheaters Proudly Prosper - pdf

Here’s the ugly, sometimes dirty, often-overlooked truth in games: Everyone cheats. In many instances, cheating is built into the game. It’s a multimillion-dollar industry, legally sanctioned. Well, at least most of it.

You can flip through magazines such as Tips & Tricks, which boasts of its “Cheat Code Blowout!” Or buy 150-page strategy guides, the Cliffs Notes of gamers, which last year drew $67 million in sales, according to the NPD Group. Or log on to MyCheats.com, a Wikipedia for the gaming set, the latest in the growing crop of sites that promote cheating in games.

“A thing worth having is a thing worth cheating for,” W.C. Fields once said. Never mind Sophocles’ approach: “I would prefer even to fail with honor than win by cheating.” When it comes to games, all bets are off.

[...] But what constitutes cheating? Is cheating less objectionable when you don’t have to pay for it? As in, looking up a code on the Internet, where it’s free, versus dropping$16.99 for a copy of the strategy guide for “Madden NFL 2007″? When roaming the online “World of Warcraft,” is cheating warranted so long as the only one affected is you? For example, buying weapons on eBay instead of earning them in the game?

Is cheating ever okay?

“It’s like lying. We all agree that lying is bad, but we all do it anyway, and there are definitely different degrees in which you should do it. Like lying to hold back a surprise party,” says Jason Blake, 23. For tips on “Halo 2,” Blake scours the forums on Bungie.net.

[...] To cheat way back when was to figure out how to keep your character alive and finish the game. To cheat now is to unlock doors and expand the breadth of your game.

“It’s not just cheating, really,” says Sam Kennedy, the mastermind behind the new MyCheats.com.”It’s trying to get more out of the game, kind of like buying a special edition DVD where you get extra stuff.”

I am reminded of this exchange in the “The Big Chill:”

Michael: I don’t know anyone who could get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations. They’re more important than sex.

Sam Weber: Ah, come on. Nothing’s more important than sex.

Michael: Oh yeah? Ever gone a week without a rationalization?

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