Here we are at the second part of my piece on cheating, and if you can’t tell from the title, this is the part where the negative aspects of cheating will come into focus. Because it’s all fine and dandy to press a couple of buttons and get some extra lives in a single-player game, but cheating in the world of online gaming is one of the most irritating and downright dirty things you can do in a video game. Be warned that I will only be covering to major types of cheating in MMO’s out of the vast pool, so if you’re looking for a comprehensive list, this is not it.
Whether it’s an aimbot sniping you before you’ve even stuck your head out, or the exploitation of a program loophole, gamer’s who try to tilt the odds in their favor against the intent of the game’s makers are thought of as scum by many if you ever poke around on forums and Reddit, or just plain play the games for yourself. This is because in online gaming, more often than not, cheating doesn’t just help the cheater, but harms those playing around them.
One of the most common examples is the aforementioned use of aimbots in First-Person-Shooters. An aimbot is a program that takes advantage of full-map rendering in FPS’s in order to locate enemies. These programs can vary, but the main point of an aimbot is to shoot enemy players within the perimeters set by their creator, i.e shoot in line of sight, shoot through walls but not entire structures, shoot bodies instead of heads, etc. Basically, with an aimbot, a player doesn’t have to actively be looking and pulling the trigger, but instead can rely upon the bot to see, to shoot, or to do both. This absolutely sucks in MMOFPS’s for the other players and is probably one of the most frustrating things to deal with in long games or servers where banning is rare. If you’re playing against the cheater, you get creamed, if you’re on the cheater’s team, you look like chopped liver.
Though many who program or sell aimbots tend to encourage players not to use them to dominate games, and to use them in ways that won’t make their statistics look fishy, this advice usually combats the exact purpose for using them in the first place. If you’ve ever played even just a couple rounds of CS:GO or TF2, you’ll know that not only is the problem rampant and annoying, but some of these players don’t even try to blend. How ever bad this may seem to us, it’s going to eventually be pretty bad for them. In games like Overwatch, you can be banned for life if you are caught cheating. In games like Counter Strike, Team Fortress 2, and Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, Valve can monitor and check any account and dispense Valve Anti-Cheat bans that not only are permanent for the account a player cheated on, but any account associated with their phone number, regardless of if that account has a copy of the game or not.
Even though the problem persists, it is nice to know that the concerns of the fair players carry over to the developers. A life ban for a game that you cared so much about to cheat at seems like a hefty price to pay, and in my opinion, does not seem worth the risk.
But there is a different kind of cheating that doesn’t seem nearly as risky, because it relies simply on taking advantage of those who do not know better. One of the most famous games for this sort of behavior is the MMORPG RuneScape, a long-running fantasy game where players interact in much the same way as other Online RPG’s, but with a heavy weight on collecting and trading valuable items. Since it’s creation, RuneScape has been known for breeding the worst in people, especially when it comes to acquiring the goods. This is mainly because of the notorious popularity of trading within the game. There are hundreds of loopholes and weaknesses within the trade system that really all boil down to “If you’re not paying attention, you deserve to get ripped off”. These robbery events are referred to exactly the way they are in the real-world: Scams.
One of the most prolific ways to get scammed in RuneScape is to simply pay little attention to what you are actually trading. I first learned of these trade scams from my beloved, who admitted that he ran this sort of thing all the time in his teen years. When the game first came out, people were not as weary of each other as they should’ve been. In original Runescape (or what is played as Old School RuneScape now), a trade consisted of two people showing their goods to each other, and then accepting the trade. However, a person can modify the trade before the trade goes through, as in, a trade is accepted by both parties, but one modifies it before the final trade page is clicked. If the second person isn’t paying attention and clicks through both pages, they may end up trading their valuable item for something completely different than what they thought they were getting or nothing at all, and the scammer will have logged out before the victim even knows what hit them.
This is what we like to call “Not Cool”, however this scam only scrapes the surface of the havoc RuneScapers can reek on each other. (For a very extensive list of RuneScape scams the Old School RuneScape Wiki has what you are looking for.) Jagex, RuneScape’s developer, acknowledges these scams and has a way of reporting it, however, unless the scammer is flagged in the act of scamming, it is almost impossible for them to get caught. Furthermore, even if the scammer gets caught and punished, Jagex will not give you back the items or money you lost. I like to think of it as Jagex saying “Okay, we took care of the problem, but you owe us for falling for it”. Even though the punishment for scamming can be as bad as permanent banning, it can also be as little as being muted. The best way to deal with RuneScape scammers is to just be incredibly mindful of what you are partaking in and who you are interacting with, just like in the real world. But it certainly makes you wish people were more like NPC’s sometimes.
There are many, many ways out there where players are cheating and gaining unfair advantages, there are even people out there looking to wreck other player’s real lives. We’ll no doubt revisit this topic multiple times, but for now, I think I’ve shown you two sides of cheating in the online-gaming spectrum, as well as shown that cheating is far more exacerbated in the realm of MMO gaming than any other gaming type.
Let me know which cheats drive you mad! And don’t forget to stay tuned for more!