Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Cheating in Online Gaming, Is it Real?

Cheating has been a staple of person to person competition long before video games ever came into the picture. Cheating has been present in poker during the wild west days, and various other games of chance and skill throughout history. It has been present in early to modern-day sports, and will no doubt continue to be a staple of humanity's recreational hobbies so long as competition, and the payout from such sporting events are present and rewarding. Even video games are subject to such things though the payout may be less than substantial in an economic sense. To deny any of this is to be ignorant to the facts of human history, and human nature itself. Why do you think the countries of the world are always at war with each other? Why do you think such warring nations will go out of their way to secure a victory over their opposition in any way possible? It's all about controlling the outcome, and reaping the rewards of said outcome. That, and being better than those you deem unworthy. Sometimes it's even about demeaning those you find who are in a better light than you. The same ideology that are those few reasons is very much the same in today's increasingly competitive world of entertainment.

To immediately answer my title's question I can say without a shadow of a doubt that cheating is definitely present in modern online gaming, and increasingly so with the influx of technological advances. It may come in different forms or fashions depending on gaming platform, but each instance of said cheating holds distinct similarities, regardless. The only real differences over time being the motive behind the cheating, and the methods of the cheating itself. As of late cheating seems to be a way to rebel against the better half of society. A way to rise up against the goody-two-shoes of society who abide by the rules, and call out cheaters for what they are. It's an anarchist's tool to stir up trouble, or more precisely "troll" for the purpose of a good laugh. Grief culture itself is a huge driving force for cheaters these days, and I think it's growing popularity among the streaming culture has become so detrimental to the industry that it's driving the core audience that made gaming great in the first place away.

The flip side to that same equation lies with our (humanity's) drive to be the best. We (humanity in general) want to be the best so bad that sometimes we take available shortcuts to ensure that we look like the professionals we claim to be without having ever earned such a title. With hacking, and modding present in online gaming this helps make such an effort ever more easy to pull off. Modding in particular has given birth, via modern consoles, the ability to clone accounts so that anonymity is unlimited, and so that said cheater can get away with their misdeeds indefinitely. along with the gaming moderators lack of caring, and the lack of offense reporting options the cheating epidemic only grows. While the publishers, developers, and console creators may shrug this off as the gamers' problem only they fail to see the other side of the picture. That opposite side presenting a way for modders to pirate, and manipulate software free of cost. This not only ruins the experience for the legit gamer, and turns them away from said gaming experience, but it also makes the legit paying gamer not want to buy the studios, or publishers games in the first place. This in turn leaves the publisher, and studio without the sales figures they'd hoped for, and further in turn will lead to that studio's/publisher's economic downfall if left unchecked.

The same goes for hacking which is very much a part of the modding process. Modded games, and accounts come from hackers who have reverse engineered the game, and reworked it from the inside out. The hackers break into game files that are locked away to put into place cheats, or mods as most of your refer to. Aside from that joint similarity hacking also presents an entirely different set of threats that come in a few different forms. Those being ID/credit theft via account information, DDOS'ing, and the taking down of gaming networks. Again, this is where console moderators, and moderation falters. With the absence of proper reporting options, and the negligence of moderators who could care less about the paying customers' online experience the legit gamers are left frustrated, used, and not willing to pay up for any future releases from the console makers, or the studios/publishers involved.

This is all deeply concerning in that the gamer, and Industry creators themselves are alone seeing the impact of those who choose to do harm. It's not the cheaters, the hackers, or the modders who are being punished for the ignorance at hand though. They are getting away with what they do, and are thriving as a major community. Unless the industry wakes up, and understands this they will all fall to the negative impact. They will lose sales more, and more each year, and in turn the gamer will not have the options they once had making them turn to new hobbies that won't let them down as much. Why the industry has pulled a "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil" stance is up for speculation, but I know for certain it will not bode well for us who have invested so wholly in this interactive form of entertainment. Perhaps SIE, Microsoft, and even Nintendo know that gaming is not gonna last, and they are simply trying to milk that last drop of gold from it's paying fan base before the wall comes tumbling down. I hope not, but if something is not done, and soon this industry will see it's darkest times yet. It may very well cease to exist, because we, the legit gamers did not speak up loudly enough about being wronged. Do your part so that gaming may survive the long haul, and I'll continue to do mine. You too SIE, Microsoft, and Nintendo (I'm looking right at you).

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