Cheating in Games

Recently I’ve noticed that many players in a variety of games seem to use cheating as a core element of the way they consume and enjoy video games. One example might be using cheat engine to alter values in a SoulsBorne game to create a DIY “easy mode.” Another example are games like Minecraft or Rust, where players regularly spawn in piles of resources so they don’t have to gather them.

Perhaps a more contentious form of cheating occurs in multiplayer games: players who enable god mode or buff their weapons/stats to get an advantage over other players, whether small or huge.

I used to think that all of these activities were kind of disgraceful. I certainly don’t cheat when playing games, not out of some sense of moral pride but because I think it would destroy the fun. A game without any sense of challenge, where all tasks are completed or achievements automatically unlocked with a console command… it just seems boring. But I’ve had some conversations recently and perhaps it’s not always a bad thing. Perhaps this is the way that some people enjoy games, and who am I to tell them how to consume art? Especially if it’s not impacting other players.

Finally I remember when I was quite young, I would sometimes find cheat codes for old games like Doom and have a great time being an invulnerable demi-god, mowing down all the enemies so easily, the same enemies that were so scary and difficult in the past.

So I guess I’m torn on the issue. What is your experience with cheating or cheaters? Is there ever a time when cheating is fine? Should it be condemned, or is it simply a different way of enjoying a game?


Most of my experience with multiplayer games is with MMOs, in which cheating takes some different forms. Mostly bottling. And those using bots normally get promptly banned. I guess it also depends on what is defined as cheating. Do we call the use of add-ons in something like WoW (unit frames, etc.) cheating, or improving the UI experience? Does it make the game too easy, or bring it to the level we already expect it to be? I think things like a god-mode is clear cut cheating. But other forms may require a nuanced perspective. I do know that if everyone cheated their way through Raid bosses in games I have played I would grow bored quite quickly. The challenge and team coordination is the fun.

I don’t think cheating in multi-player games is ever okay (hacking, spawning, flying, etc). However, I’ve always felt what you do in your own single player game (as long as you’re not trying to win at some sort of online aspect, ie: highest score) is your own business. As long as it affects no one but you, play games however you want.

I always play games on the easiest mode available because for me, the most interesting thing isn’t combat and fighting, even if it’s a core element of a game (like an Elder Scrolls game for example). I really just want to explore the world, I just kill to get people out of my way so I can keep doing that. :laughing: So for some people, their enjoyment of the game might be playing through the whole thing on god mode as a story.

Some people consider things like creative mode in sandbox games, like Minecraft, to be cheating. Anytime a new sandbox game pops up on the market (that doesn’t yet have a creative mode), you get a slew of people arguing for the dev to never add one in. But of course, if a game like that lacks a creative mode, you’ll always get the people who go to greater lengths to cheat in a bunch of materials so they can build for fun. Because that’s how some people enjoy games like that, not for the hours of gathering materials, but just for the pleasure of building huge creations.

I’ve personally turned Fallout 4 into a glorified version of a first person city builder. I’ve modded the crap out of it to let me do what I like, like build where-ever, make my settlements as big as I want, clip building pieces together, unlock all the game’s assets for using in my builds. Obviously it’s not how the game was intended to be played or I wouldn’t have had to mod it to make it that way. But that’s how I’m playing it.

So yeah, I think how you play a game just comes down to how you enjoy them. As long as it’s only you, I say play however you like.


I cannot argue with that. Especially in respect to building an experience in a way that you enjoy personally.

I’ve read a counter argument to this, just to play devil’s advocate. :wink: Assuming that the developer has not encouraged or given players the ability to mod or cheat. One might argue that doing these things may change core elements of the game itself. If we agree that games are art, this is kind of like altering an artwork. Suppose you buy a beautiful painting, and it has been carefully constructed by a team of expert artists. Is it not shameful to have the selfishness to decide that the artist is wrong, and that we would prefer to paint antlers and clown noses all over it? Even if it’s my painting, and for my personal consumption and enjoyment, isn’t it wrong to deconstruct and rearrange the artist’s vision?

I guess this relates to the deeper questions of post-modernism and the digital age… where we get to a point where no one owns anything and everything is modified, remixed, adjusted, personalised. Is it selfish for an artist to vehemently defend his/her work with DRM and anti-cheat software, or should we just open the flood gates? Sometimes modding drifts into piracy… I mean, one could argue that a torrented game is a ‘mod’ of sorts.

Haha, don’t tell anyone but sometimes I choose the easy difficulty. I went easy mode for Pillars of Eternity, mostly because I haven’t played an iso-RPG in over a decade. Maybe I’m getting weak in my old age. It makes me think of toothbrushes for some reason. Recently I’ve started buying the ‘soft’ type, lol, don’t tell anyone about that either! Real men use the extra-vigorous, tough toothbrushes!

But back to the point, I can totally relate. Sometimes I don’t want to put up with repeating difficult action sequences over and over because, in some games, the story is the main focus. Though it depends on the game. In some games I like to choose the hard difficulty if I feel like it’ll add to my experience. It really depends.

This kind of relates back to the argument going on at the moment: many gamers have been complaining that Dark Souls III should have an ‘easy mode.’ In that particular case I disagree with the sentiment, but that’s a whole other discussion.

Though, on the other hand perhaps I’m a hypocrite. I’ve been really struggling with Darkest Dungeon and I’ve considered installing the shameful ‘easy mode mod,’ lol. I haven’t caved in yet, but gosh, that game is tough as nails.


I remember back when Game Genie came out for the NES and I thought it was interesting but not all that cool. We ended up getting one anyway and it was pretty fun but my favorite thing to do with it was play Double Dragon II which would allow a bonus level. This was awesome!

Even before GG Contra basically had to be played with the cheat code. Unless you’re a gaming genius. Two lives, one continue was not enough with all the death traps. If it wasn’t for the famous up, up, down, down, L, R, L, R, B, A, start I probably would never have seen most of the game and would end up rage quitting and doing something else with my friend. For me cheat codes, albeit, not used frequently, allowed me to see more of a game and extend the enjoyment I felt. Plus these games were not just difficult, they were “nintendo” difficult. Games like Battletoads were just rage inducing.

Cheating in online play isn’t fair, those folks should be banned from the game. If it just affects you then so be it, like what @Jess said, enjoy the game how you want. But if you hacked something and can fly around with invincibility shooting nukes out of your eyes while everyone else is roaming around with 1 hp and a club, then that’s not JUST your game, you’re affecting everyone else on that battlefield.

I usually play normal mode but recently have opted for easy mostly because I don’t want to dump a lot of time into a game. There are so many awesome games, I want to move on to the next one. That doesn’t mean I’ll rush through and skip stuff, I just want to check out people’s recommendations and work on that backlog.

I loved Super Meat Boy and that game is downright hard. I swore a lot but I finished it and got 100% on a few worlds. There’s a sense of accomplishment for a hard game. But sometimes it’s just as fun to play a stop and smell the roses game on easy mode. If someone is playing a tough game and the difficulty can’t be adjusted then don’t play it. The Konami (or Contra) code was created by Kazuhisa Hashimoto to be used in Gradius because he felt the game was too hard. It later was used in several Konami games. That in itself is a difficulty modifier, sort of.

I can see if a game is broken the way it’s made then there should be a cheat code, but that’s for the developers to decide.

Long story short, taking from other people and some of my own, cheat if it will enhance the experience for you while not adversely affecting people who are also playing with you.

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I think this argument is fairly relative depending on the game. A mod of any kind will never be considered canon or the original intent of the game’s creators, but different creators encourage different things. Some games offer cheat codes and easy modes. Others, like Fallout, the Elder Scrolls, GTA5, etc. go as far as to support modding, but these are also games that encourage the player to create their own experiences. However, for a game that offers a more “closed” experience, altering said game could definitely impact the artist’s intent, especially if thematic elements are intertwined with how a game is played.

Say I paint a painting of a sun, sign my name on it, and declare “This sun represents warmth”. You COULD then buy my painting, paint a hat and scarf on it, and declare “Now it represents an oxymoron!” But that wasn’t my, the creator’s, intention for it; it’s not what it is nor what it was meant to be. You’re allowed to hang it on your wall, and I’ll probably get a kick out of it, but it’s not the true painting. If you wanted to paint an oxymoron that’s meant to be an oxymoron, you’d have to paint your own sun.

For example, a game like Super Meat Boy was intended by its creator to be challenging. Overcoming challenge is psychologically more rewarding than breezing through a game, which is one reason a creator might require their game to be challenging. A person COULD mod the game to make it easy and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but they can’t claim that they played the game like it was intended, nor can they claim that they got the “true” experience.


I will keep this short, but I think that the very nature of video games as interactive means that how we consume them as art is different from something like a painting. All art requires viewer participation. For example paintings require that we construct meaning by drawing from personal; experience to interpret and experience the work. The beauty of video games is that take that a step further: we can directly manipulate the work by playing it. But we can push that interaction and participation even further than that. I think that in many instances manipulation of the code to craft a new personal experience of the art is as valid as simply playing it as intended. The former does not prevent the latter, it simply expands upon it. Something like Polygon’s Monster Factory comes to mind, in that the particular experience of that experiment is the attempt to break the video game world. I think it is an aspect that is being explored in discourse on video games as art, and one that fascinates me. We can enjoy the game as in and we can also break it, remodel it and construct a new experience, both of which are legitimate forms of interaction with the game in my mind.

Well now, this article was just published on Kotaku a few minutes ago:

Dark Sould 3 PC has a massive cheating problem

yeah, this is totally unacceptable. Especially since they’re ruining the game for others who want to play legitimately. Some people get a cheap thrill from hacking and cheating their way through a game like this, but it’s their loss.

@kazooie and @bmo have pointed out an important distinction about different types of games, and how (in some ways) the painting analogy kind of falls apart. The interactive nature of a game kind of blurs the lines. In some ways, experiencing a game is different to experiencing formal art. When we enjoy a painting or music we are generally passive observers, but yes, games are more interactive. So often the focus is on the player’s actions, behaviour and alterations rather than the passive observation of the artist’s vision.

This is kind of where my brain implodes. If someone mods SuperMeatBoy and has fun with it by enabling god mode, well good for them, it doesn’t affect me at all. If they’re having fun, well that’s great for them. But really it’s just confusing to me. Why one earth would someone play SuperMeatBoy in god mode? People often cheat to remove core elements of the gameplay, and I see this so often.

And that’s exactly the same type of thing, in fact it’s the main thing that got me thinking on this thread. In my experiences with Dark Souls 3 I’ve encountered perhaps 100 players (strangers) and as far as I could tell more than 50% of them were cheating. These players aren’t using god mode or duping so they can enjoy the game world without distraction from enemies. It seems like the cheaters fall into two camps:
A) They are trolls, and they cheat to become invincible, then spend all their time online killing other players, like @8bithero mentioned, getting satisfaction by ruining the enjoyment of other players.
B) They are rushing through the game and trying to beat it so they can tell people “I beat Dark Souls 3” but they don’t want to put the time or effort in to learn the game mechanics.

In essence, (for case B) to me it’s like playing PacMan with the ghosts disabled. There’s no challenge or opposition, no risk/reward, no sense of achievement. It’s just instant gratification. But it just seems so completely boring and pointless to play a game this way, and I’m surprised by how prevalent it is.


Ha ha, welcome to the equivalent of a PvP server in an MMO. There will always be people in MMOs that get a kick out of flattening less experiences, or lesser geared players. There are always toxic players who think being a bully is good for a laugh. It sounds like they have made their way over to Dark Souls. I tend to stay away from PvP servers. Not PvP entirely (arena events) as PvP can be fun, but dedicated servers themselves can be far too toxic and a pain to bother with.

Can you play Dark Sould 3 without encountering these people?

But eating the ghosts is the best part! Ghosts disabled would be so very sad.

I think you’re right, the COD-warrior 12 year olds have migrated over to DS3. There has been so much hype around this game and I think this is just the early surge of casual players, using cheats and only playing the game for the PvP (the least enjoyable element of the entire game if you ask me). Yes, you can turn off all the multiplayer aspects completely, but I wouldn’t recommend that because some of those aspects are fun, like the orange-soapstone and bloodstain mechanics. If you don’t want to get invaded you can just go hollow and then you won’t be invaded (it just means don’t consume any ember items). I stayed hollow for 90% of my playthrough. Another fun thing is co-op. If you’re really stuck on a boss you can summon strangers to come and help you. Conversely I use it to help out less-experienced players with difficult bosses. There’s something rewarding about that, I quite like it. You get a tidy little reward from the game, and you get to help a stranger. :slight_smile:
Pro tip: Just don’t consume an ember anywhere near the Cathedral. That’s where all the trolls hang out. Invasions aren’t too bad in most other areas, or at least they don’t cheat.

“No, but PacMan was too hard with the ghosts. Plus I want to get a high score, so I turned them off. The game is better with the ghosts turned off.” :smiling_imp:

Something like that. Or MOBA kids. Ugh.

Part of why I like MMOs, the cooperative aspect.

Lol, the irony being the points from eating the ghost are necessary for that high score :wink:

I agree. I think breaking the limits imposed by a game is a fun exercise. It is a separate form of fun from the act of playing the game normally. There was something great about using a Game Genie to alter the physics or the constraints of a NES game. More often than not My friends and I used it to hilarious ends, rather than ones to assist in beating the game.

I heard about this fascinating game last year, it’s called The Magic Circle. The concept is that the game is unfinished and kind of broken, and the player has to hack into the game and change elements to complete it. You progress through the game by actively experimenting with properties like changing gravity, textures, scaling and a bunch of other properties. I remember another interesting game from the early 2000’s (somewhat related) called Virus. Apparently the game would scan your hard drive and then create enemies, levels, sounds, etc. based on the data. So you would be fighting against sprites that looked like weird family photos on your hdd, accompanied by the random sounds from your drive.

And there have certainly been interesting scenarios where mods themselves overtake the popularity of the base game. Day Z and Counterstrike are examples, or MOBAs in general.

I used to have a blast as a teenager with early shooters like DOOM and Quake. I spent countless hours making custom maps, weird weapon properties, my own player textures and weird things like this, especially with Quake 2. I also remember my first mod experience: Simpsons Doom!! This blew my mind the first time I saw it, it seemed so unbelievable and impressive at the time.


I’ve been excited for a while to try The Magic Circle. It looks fascinating.

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Me too. It’s been on my wishlist for awhile (since I heard about it from Grouvcast). It just doesn’t go on sale on Steam! Maybe the summer sale will include it.

I know it’s getting a console release on 10 May, so maybe around then. There tends to be steam sales on games around the time they get a console launch.

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