Home  >>  Write  >>  Entertainment  >>  Video Games  >>  Elements of Gaming  >>  Hacking and Cheating - Ethical Issues


Hacking and Cheating: Ethical Issues

Most games throughout the history of video games have come with some form of cheating.  What are cheats, exactly?  Most often, they’re game settings that have been left behind by the developer.  These settings usually affect the player’s ability to play without dying or give some unfair advantage.  The reason they’re there in the first place is because every game has to go through an extensive play-testing in order to work out the game mechanics and sort out any bugs.

Early cheats usually gave extra lives, or unlimited health.  Some cheats allowed you to skip levels.  Not all cheats were really placed for play testing.  Some were actually ’secrets’ that were hidden for the savvy player.  You could take advantage of level ’warps’, for instance, in the original Mario Brothers game by Nintendo, if you knew where to go on a specific level.

Is cheating bad?  This is a complicated question that involves ethical considerations regarding the situation a player is faced.  Perhaps you might find that a particular part of the game is extremely difficult and you just want to get past it.  This is one form of cheating that I approve of because there’s no sense banging your head against the wall.  Other times, you might just want to explore new options that were never available in the game as-is.  Most cheats these days are designed to unlock things that you may not yet have access to.  This could allow a player to bypass many hours of gameplay and deliver the goods straight up.  In this situation, I’d say you’re defeating the purpose of playing in the first place.  Why pay up to $60 for a game if you’re not even going to bother trying to play it properly?

The latest form of cheating, predominantly seen in PC games, is hacking.  Skilled coders and programmers (which represent only a small portion of the PC gaming population) can find loopholes in the code of multiplayer games.  This can give a ’hacker’ the ability to see other players through walls, move extremely fast, or automatically aim their weapons.  This form of cheating is by far the worst.  There are no ethical grounds to gain an unfair advantage in a human vs. human multiplayer situation.  Popular games like Counter-Strike have experienced years of hacks and vulnerabilities that can seriously ruin the fun of a game if a hacker decides to use them.

It was only recently that the developers stepped in to make a stand against hacking.  New client-side and server-side programs like Punk Buster will automatically scan your game’s configuration to ensure that you have no unfair advantage.  If you’re discovered to be taking advantage of a hack, oftentimes a server running Punk Buster will kick a server off and or permanently ban them.

Hackers will always be around, despite the efforts of developers around the world.  In the end, you can only hope that your own skill and uncanny gameplay abilities can outwit them.