It’s often said that cheaters never prosper, or the only person you cheat is yourself, and in the real world I generally hope this is the case, despite various political shitshows. But in the world of games is it such a crime?
If so then let those without sin cast the first joypad!
I’ve most certainly cheated at games, have I prospered? Well, it depends on your definition of prosper. My favourite cheat was the Sims “klapaucius” code which got me 1,000 precious Simoleans each time I used it. I had been playing the game by the book until a friend let me in on this sublime bit of hackery and it opened up a whole new world of often hilarious, mostly twisted possibilities.
This cheat meant I could create ludicrously baller mansions and let my architecture and interior design fantasies run wild. Unfortunately most of my families descended into incestuous, bitch-slapping chaos, where kitchen fires happened with alarming regularity and any children that did randomly occur were spirited away by social services. In many ways, I created suburban Westeros!
So it might be fair to say that my Sim population certainly didn’t prosper but as an uncaring yet financially generous God, I felt I prospered as this was great entertainment!
Why this admission? Well since James Davenport from PC Gamer admitted to using cheats to complete the notoriously difficult Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, cheating in video games has become a bit of a hot topic and inspired what I can only call my favourite “Twitter Haiku”:
To a certain degree I get the point being made, but, and I have to stress this, IT’S A VIDEO GAME!!!! Not to mention the fact that cheating and video games have gone hand in hand since Eve made friends with a snake and took a sweet bite of that Konami code apple.
In the early days of gaming, quite a few cheat codes were created by game developers for playtesting purposes. This was so they could show off their game, see if there were any massive design clangers and make sure it was commercially viable and would actually sell.
There was also something of a “cheat industry” in the 80s and 90s with magazines like Crash featuring lists of POKE statements to get unlimited lives, currency or invincibility on early 8-bit computer games. As a Commodore 64 girl, I remember Zzap 64 and then Commodore Force featuring walkthroughs and solutions, and then, of course, there was the ultimate cheating device, the Game Genie.
Times may have changed, but methods certainly haven’t. You can watch walkthroughs, buy strategy guides, visit forums, not to mention the advantages you can get by spending real money to get fake money and buy upgrades, skills and weapons.
Which leads me to my next question, how do you even define cheating in video games?
If cheating means acting unfairly to gain an advantage, does buying a strategy guide or sinking money into upgrades count as cheating against those who don’t? What about using flaws or quirks in the game design? Geography flaws are quite common in games and who hasn’t climbed un-scalable heights in Skyrim using the power of the mountaineering horse which doubles as a portable soft landing? Or found nooks and crannies where we can hit the boss but the boss can’t hit us back?
Some games actively embrace their glitches. In the recent Hitman 2 game, there is a tremendous glitch which has somehow turned Agent 47’s briefcase into the game’s most formidable non-lethal weapon. Like Captain America’s shield, it does not obey the laws of physics and it actively homes in on the target like a wasp to a picnic. Io-Interactive did a patch to address some issues in the game but due to the sheer comedy value of the heat-seeking luggage from hell they left that glitch in.
This is one of the great arguments for cheating and using mods. It makes games more fun and entertaining and isn’t that why we do it?
The idea that there’s a “right” or a “wrong” way to play a game and that because I’ve read up on how to take down a boss, or exploited a glitch to take down an enemy “easier” than I should have, means that in some way I haven’t earned my victory is utter nonsense.
There are some game communities that have this hardcore belief that if you dare use any “overpowered” items or exploit a glitch you are disturbing the balance of the game like a mardy Sith Lord and you’re in some way going against the developer’s wishes. Then there are the gatekeepers who condescend against others that they deem not worthy enough to play a game.
To pick on another From Software franchise, the Dark Souls community does sadly suffer from this. While the comments sections of the internet would normally send even Cthulhu screaming into the abyss, anyone who dares publish a let’s play or a walkthrough of Souls will most likely be subjected to a litany of “that’s not how you’re supposed to play it!”, “that’s a rubbish character build”, “that weapon doesn’t scale up with that stat” blah, blah, blah… and God forbid you commit the ultimate travesty of getting the Drake Sword!
This sort of attitude makes my eyes roll harder than numbered balls in the lotto machine. While I certainly draw the line at cheating in online multiplayer or MMORPGs, because there is nothing more damaging to the experience than gankers, griefers and gold farmers amongst other things, does cheating really harm the single-player experience?
At a very basic level isn’t the developer’s intention to make a game that sells? Absolutely there will be a huge sense of creative pride and the knowledge that they have created a truly amazing gaming experience for their audience, but once money has changed hands shouldn’t you be allowed to enjoy a game however the hell you want?
After seeing footage of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at E3 I was initially excited, but the constant thing I’m hearing from reviewers and gamers alike is that it is ridiculously difficult. There have been arguments about whether or not it needs an easy mode as it is considered incredibly challenging especially when compared against the SoulsBorne series. This is now actively putting me off buying it.
Maybe I’m not “hardcore” enough but if I’m spending upwards of £40 for a game I expect to be able to play it. While the difficulty is no doubt an important feature to some of From Software’s, and by extension Sekiro, fans who will wear their victories like a badge of honour and tell the rest of us lowly individual to “git gud”, there comes a point in any game where the grinding starts to feel like admin and the multiple deaths become tedious and frustrating. There’s very little enjoyment to be had there, and shouldn’t that be what games are about, enjoyment?
There are two sides to every argument and I do understand both points, but it’s your own choice, your own experience that matters, and maybe having completed something using cheats or easy modes gives you enough of a confidence nudge to try it again without.
I think it’s time we put the “casual gamer” insult to bed. We should unite and just have fun instead of tearing each other down. We’re all part of keeping this now multi-million dollar industry afloat so let’s cut each other some slack, grab a load of Simoleans and our Drake Swords and wreck this joint.