The Cheating Mentality
In the past year I have been hosting a Counter-Strike server for online gamers. I’ve been an avid Counter-Strike player for a few years. While I have not turned it into a career, it does server the role of competitive outlet in my life. I enjoy the strategy and action along with teamwork, intensity and challenge.
As our server has grown, I have been forced to contemplate the role of cheating. While our server is by no means so popular that we are deluged with cheaters, we have had our lot of players joining with, as the Supreme Chancellor told Anakin in Star Wars III, abilities that some would consider to be unnatural.
Game hacks anger me. So for a long time I simply barked an expletive and reached for the "kick” and "ban” buttons on the server console when I suspected someone of cheating. It’s possible that a few of the subjects to feel the wrath of my ban-happy finger have been legitimate players—but I’ve played the game for years and have still not grasped the art of jumping around a corner, turning 120 degrees (still hopping) and switching weapons in mid-air with enough time to headshot two or three highly skilled players on the other side of the map… and still retaining all or almost all health. For those who can do this feat legitimately… I am sorry to say that you will quickly get banned from our server—it’s time for those players to find girlfriends or get a dog!
No… I think that the majority of such players do, in fact, have aimbots and wall hacks on their system. Aside from the sparsely freakish round that all players have at least once a year (sneaking into a group of opponents from behind undetected and wiping out a whole team), there just is no reason to believe that consistent play of this magnitude is legitimate.
The issue gets worse when you start becoming friends with players that end up being guilty of hacking. I’ve been forced to ban friends and friends of friends.
The problem is that eventually you will ban enough players that their friends will be impelled to play on other servers—in which case your server will lack in participants. For us it isn’t a big deal, since overall we like to keep our group to friends anyway. But there are nights when we want outsiders to come in… and those are the nights that our ban list grows.
I started to wonder about hacking. And aside from my personal angst with the tactic, there is something that makes me abhor it even more after reflection. Installing game cheats is, in my opinion, not only wrong, but it’s at the core stupid—because game hacks undermine the entire purpose of playing video games.
What I mean is this—video games are valuable because they transport players to an alternate reality and present to us challenges that we do not or cannot normally face. By installing cheats, the most valuable aspect of gaming (the challenge) is destroyed. Considering the amount of time that many people put into gaming, a lack of challenge equates to an absolute waste of time. There is no value in letting your computer automatically kill your opponents because when that happens the player becomes a spectator; the problem is that most cheaters fail to see this and feel a sense of satisfaction when they "win”.
In the online gaming world the mess is compounded because cheaters may get away with their fraud for a length of time—and when other players begin looking up to them, there is no escape: the cheater must continue cheating to maintain the respect of fellow players and clans.
The cheating phenomenon is more prevalent than most people know, I believe. I have read testimonials from gamers who formerly belonged to prominent online gaming clans who stated that cheating is a way of life for most competing clans. One such article stated that competitive clans need cheats because all other clans are using them—making it impossible to compete. Cheaters don’t see their cheating as cheating so much as self-defense—if everyone else is doing it, we have to too. (Counter-Hack notes: "it became more common for a blatant wallhack/speedbot/aimbot/spinhack to enter a server, only to have two thirds of the players who appeared to have been playing legitimately turn their own hacks on, in order to remain competitive and fight back.”) The problem is that competitions based on such mentalities (although not openly) are not real competitions; in the end, winning such a "competition” is like an elementary school student getting honors and self-fulfillment because his mom sold the most candy for his school fundraiser while she was at work. The student did nothing, but gets plenty of praise.
Well Valve, the developer behind Counter-Strike, has implemented the Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system on its online gaming system… I still run across hackers online. As any responsible developer notes, anything can be hacked. But the fact that Valve has created VAC, which can permanently ban a cheater from all VAC-enabled servers on the internet, goes to show that Valve is taking the issue seriously. Unfortunately, it does not deter hackers too much, who will waste money on a new account when their old one gets banned. Teenagers (who probably make up the most of the hacking pool) are not usually composed of the most intelligent and/or responsible of human society.
At the core of the issue is an indication of parenting styles; parents allow their children to have unrestricted, unsupervised access to computers and internet. Responsible parents would quickly punish children for using cheats; while we are just talking about games, we are still talking about methods and habits of behavior.
When my son’s friend started talking to my son about various hack sites, I immediately waved my arms in the air like a mad idiot and had a stern talk with the boys. I’m sure I made an impact on my son—who does not want to lose any computer privileges… but the other boy seemed only annoyed. He has been banned multiple times from our server; each time he wastes more money on new accounts and makes the same mistakes.
It’s simply too bad that anyone installs and uses cheats because it shows a lack of character that spans beyond the virtual world of online gaming. Cheating in a game shows that you do not respect yourself enough to accept the challenges life offers; it also alienates the potential to grow by overcoming challenges. Competition is a good and healthy thing for anyone; cheating is simply a waste of life.