One thing that is typically regarded as unacceptable is cheating. That is… Unless you’re talking about video games. Then apparently it gets a little fuzzy. In reality it doesn’t, however there are still multiple perspectives, so I guess we should talk a little bit about them.
There’s two distinct types of cheating in video games – the kind that are left there by developers intentionally and the kind that are implement by the players post-development.
The first type, the intentional cheats, often come on the form of codes. In many games, you enter a set of buttons on a gamepad and then press start. In others, you type in actual words to a message box. In The Sims, for example, you could press ctrl-shift-c and open up a text log to give yourself money, reset your sims’ moods, delete otherwise undeletable objects, and more! In Starcraft, you could type into the chat log to make yourself invincible, improve your weapons and armor, remove building requirements… You get the idea.
These are obviously to be used in the event that a player is having trouble, or simply doesn’t want to deal with one aspect of the game. They are also relegated to single-player modes so they can’t be abused in competitive play.
However that brings us to the second kind, the UNintentional cheats. These come in two varieties themselves – by abusing the code within the game or adjusting other aspects yourself to give an edge. The first can involve just knowing what you’re doing or utilizing a “game enhancer” such as the Game Genie.
The second is more akin to modding, where you go in and alter the source code of a game yourself. The difference though is that modding as a practice is totally harmless (unless an inept modder breaks their game…) and often welcomed by communities to enhance the game (there’s that word again…) Cheating this way is usually more sinister, especially when applied to multiplayer games. As previously stated, though this sounds like it should be universally considered wrong, there’s an argument that it shouldn’t be. If the person is capable of overcoming the safeguards in a system, it is argued, then they should be permitted to, oh say, alter the rate at which they can attack another player or aim at another player automatically and hit every time.
Although I don’t think this argument is valid, it, and the argument that game developers shouldn’t be allowed to track such cheating methods, exemplify another aspect of gaming: entitlement. Gamers have a notoriously large sense of entitlement. Whether it’s what a game should be like, how fast they should be able to beat a level, or the expectation of always winning, gamers will make unreasonable, selfish demands because they feel the developers are obligated to them in every sense. Therefore it makes perfect sense that some people feel justified in cheating. They deserve anything they get their hands on, and they’re not going to let a silly little thing like fun or fair play get in the way of that. And that really is what I think we should all keep in mind. When you cheat at a multiplayer game, you’re not cheating the company who made it (necessarily), you’re cheating another gamer out of a good time. And if that’s what you want, we may as well just go back to unplugging other people’s controllers.