Is it Right to Cheat?

By: Ed Fenning

Published: July 12, 2009 Posted in: PC Gaming Nonsense


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Shit. Guess I’m going to have to write one then. I’ve got a guilty secret to admit when it comes to games – I’m a massive cheater. I have to restrain myself with mental duct tape to prevent my mind taking over and making me google for cheats whilst playing. Why do I do this? Doesn’t it ruin my fun? Now to be clear I don’t cheat on multiplayer games, as against people I have a sense of fair play and enjoy the challenge of a human being. But why not a computer? Surely the game was designed the way it was so it’d be more enjoyable playing it the way the devs intended. To try and justify (or at least examine) why I do, I’m going to break it on down DJ Run style into the three categories of games I cheat at.

Right to cheat:

RTS – I’ll start with the one I feel easiest to explain, la strategy. I’ve played them properly before, but the way I like to play them means I’m essentially shit. I can play as the strategic rusher who ties the foe up with weaker troops whilst building my own forces, but my disposition is much more suited to turtling. Turtling however can lead to tiresome stalemates, which are about as much fun as trench warfare with none of the impromptu football to cheer me up. Though I guess the positive is that I don’t get mustard gased, but we’ll pass over that inconvinient point. *Directs reader attention elsewhere*

So one way I justify cheating in RTS is that it allows me to just have an army ready for rushing without wearing down my will to the point where the keyboard chord looks enticing around my neck. I think it’s a bit weak though to justify cheating in RTS just in order to have an unfair advantage, as that ultimatley makes the experience empty and without challenge. Rather, I like to cheat in RTS so I can see what an insanely stupid themed army could look like. I’ve built these before non-cheating, but they tend to be cheapo infantry themed forces. What if I wanted to see what an all expensive but frail unit army would do charging in large numbers? Then cheating is my answer, friend. In this sense I justify it through wanting to roleplay a little with my forces, but not wanting to put in what I feel to be superfolus effort.

Right to cheat:

RPG – Ok, I justified cheating in a RTS as it allowed me to roleplay. How do I justify cheating to role play in a role play game? Again, my answer is that I’m a shit gamer. RPG’s are probably my favourite form of gaming just for the personality you can project into them, but I often end up making silly leveling descisions or want to use themed weaponry that would equate to me getting shafted repeatedly. With arrow shafts.

An example of this was Fallout 3. I have a penchant for pistols in any game, and tried to do so here but ended up levelling out in silly areas and was repeadetly getting beaten up worse than a nudist in the middle of a convent whenever I got in a fight. Here’s where I got creative with my cheating. God mode can make any game dull nearly, as there’s only so long standing in the open fearing nothing remains fun. A billion jillion willam credits can buy you all the cool stuff you desired, but made them feel ill-gotten. Now, the same applies to the /give command in general, but then I discovered a weapon which hadn’t made it into the final game – an unscoped 44.Magnum. When I spawned it, I knew it was a magnum so would be pretty powerful and spawned a bunch of bullets to go with it. When I started using it enemies started getting one shotted, which at first wasn’t unusual but as the difficulty increased they still were. Curious, I looked at the damage of this gun: 9999.


However, even with such a hugely game-breaking weapon as this was, I enjoyed myself up until the end credits. Suddenly in my head I was roleplaying as Billy the Kid, wearing a suit and trilby with some shades. I’d set myself challenges, limit myself from other items like stimpaks. I discovered that cheating in one way but limiting yourself in others was fun.

Right to cheat:

FPS – So, reasons for cheating so far: Do cool things, Roleplay, Change the way you play. In FPS I feel I do all of that when I cheat, but it isn’t always so noble. I’ve been skirting around a main reason why most of us cheat: Because we’re stuck and fucking sick of it, wanting to get back to places in the game where the developer didn’t poo all over.

*Enter voice of reason* “But Ed, surely those moments of frustration are defining gaming experiences? Where the game beats you constantly over the head but you come back for more, eventually feeling vilification in your skill and determination?”

Thankyou voice of reason, you bring up some good points. None of which I can answer with absolute vindication in what I did, but I’ll try. Yes I agree with what you said, and in the right mood I’ll gladly choose to do that over cheating. Recently in a playthrough of Call Of Juraez 2 there’s a forehead slapping, duelling minigame. I died. I died many times. I died more than Jack Harkness in front of an amnesiac firing squad. But each one I met with grit and determination, and when I finally shot that bastard computer I punched the air and shouted “Yes!”; the emotion of frustration drawing me into the game more for that moment of triumph to feel sweeter. I wouldn’t have got that with cheating.

But in other games, I feel some parts are unforgiveable to warrant throwing myself again and again at. Whereas the duelling minigame was a crescendo, very much a boss fight, times when I’ve been blasted to the bare bone only to get caught by a lucky bullet each time just wear me down. After 3 tries I then reach the fork in the road – a) cheat and get past, forgetting the section or b) stick with it, investing up to 40 minutes whereupon you can’t cheat as you’d be cheating yourself (one meta point gained) if you find you still can’t beat it and I give up on the game. Devil May Cry was borderline me never completing it for that reason, but I finally did beat it. But I didn’t feel triumph. I felt accutely aware I’d wasted time on a worthless progression in what was randomly coloured pixels flashing about my screen.

So dear reader, what guilty cheating moments do you have? Do you think I’m justified in my cheating occasionally? Bear in mind I place upon myself constraints, or cheat only for a short period where I feel I need it.

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Ed Fenning