Controversial Tactics in Online Gaming

A Look at Controversial Tactics in Online Gaming

By fishdalf, Posted 27 Feb 2009

Online play has become a major part of the gaming industry over the last few years, with developers investing billions of pounds in order to get people playing their games across the globe. It's not without its problems however, with so many gamers taking their experience online it becomes almost impossible to monitor and police. This causes a number of complications, but the one this feature will focus on, in particular, is those select few gamers who feel the need to ruin the fun for the rest of us, those who use controversial tactics to gain the upper-hand in a situation and do so without fear or restriction.

To help gain a greater understanding of the situation this feature is going to look at a few factors relating to the subject:

I. Why do people use controversial tactics?
II. Are controversial tactics considered cheating?
III. How can controversial tactics be prevented and what future measures can be taken?

I. Why do people use controversial tactics?

The majority of gamers feel that the use of controversial tactics in the online world is both wrong and immoral; an easy way out and something only those with inferior skill employ in order to become victorious. While on the other hand a whopping ninety one percent have used a cheat or controversial tactic in their offline play at some point in their gaming career.

Therefore the difference seems to lie within the beating of an actual human being as oppose to artificial intelligence -- a chance to fulfill competitive urges.

An article titled 'What is the Cost of Winning?' touches upon a key point, "Our society today seems to value winning above all things, regardless of the means to achieve the end results". This can be directly applied to video games as players generally feel no remorse, as long as they're beating their opponents convincingly and their win percentage sits above a certain level then that's all that seems to matter.

II. Are controversial tactics considered cheating?

How do we differentiate between someone gaining a fair or unfair advantage? If all gaming parties are granted the exact same rules and abilities then surely the people exploiting them to their full potential are just doing what's in their best interests, or are they?

The definition of cheating as is written in The Free Dictionary is, "A deception for profit to yourself" or someone who is, "Violating accepted standards of rules".

The first game we will look at in this context is Pro Evolution Soccer, which has earned a reputation for its online users employing controversial tactics. The most notable of which sees a player select one of the games weaker football teams, wait for the opposition to pick an equally under-strength side and then quickly swap to one of great power before anyone has a chance to do anything about it.

An Admin at PESFan.com explains why, "To me, a poor/cheap player will play as a physical team (predominantly but not essentially), mainly Inter [referring to the Italian football side Inter Milan]. They will pass the ball to their "special" players and try and run through the defence before either looking for the cutback or if this is blocked they will just hammer it [the football] anywhere and it will go in [the goal] more often than not despite very little skill being used in the shot". He then goes on to say, "Their physical strength means that at times it is possible to just turn, and literally run through 3 or 4 players at a time as if they are not there which causes problems if its your last line of defence. Obviously you are going to stand off and do your best and try and put in a foot or slide when the opportunity arises but online at the moment, this can seem impossible at times".

This has become such a problem online now that most are avoiding any person who has played as Inter Milan or a team of a similar nature previously. This isn't just about using a certain tactic and with that winning a football match, it's about repeatedly playing the same pass over and over again with ill-mannered intentions.

Therefore it seems quite clear that this is in fact cheating, if not for the blatant disregard for the opponent then most certainly the deception that occurs when choosing a club from the team selection screen.

Mario Kart DS can be used as another example. Within that game there is a technique known as 'snaking' which has been described as, "The execution of several consecutive mini-turbos, by drifting back and forth". The move was originally intended to help navigate corners but there are certain people who have mastered this technique on straightaway’s, thus giving them an advantage and this is where the animosity lies, with many believing that this is unjust. So should this be considered cheating? Or are these people simply aggrieved that they too don't have the skills needed to pull-off such an advanced button combination?

Patrick Ross makes a good point on the subject when he says, "Let's call snaking 'skill' and having a lead [in a race] 'money'. In the real world, you get ahead by having a skill and using it to gain resources--money. Likewise, in the game, you gain a lead with skill. Somebody who takes the time to get educated or learn a trade will ultimately beat out those who do not. Similarly, in Mario Kart, those who do not snake or do not learn to snake will fall behind those with skill".

A Nintendo of America official has described 'snaking' as an, "Intentional part of the game's design, considering that a similar technique could also be performed in Mario Kart: Double Dash!!”

Therefore in this instance it's neither a deception nor a violation of the accepted standards of rules and doesn't appear to qualify as a form of cheating.

Conclusion

For me it lies with the individual. I believe that if an individual consciously knows what they're doing is 'cheap' then surely that constitutes as a life contradiction and signals that at least some form of cheating is taking place. I'm aware that they may not be using a cheat code or device to modify the game in any way but that's not to say these exposed glitches and controversial tactics were originally intended for such acts and taking advantage of them is not only morally wrong but, in fact, cheating.

III. How can controversial tactics be prevented and what future measures can be taken?

Whether it's considered cheating or not, some tactics still serve to torment gamers, the most widely outlawed to date is 'camping' which is most commonly found in shooting games and has been described as, "The practice of a player staying in one area of the game world waiting for enemies or useful objects to appear or to come to the player rather than actively seeking them out". Developers have been working to prevent this by introducing a system that brings a player up on radar if they're stationary for a certain period of time, thus taking away their advantage and allowing others to hunt them down accordingly.

A more recent example of this is that of the 'kill-cam' featured in the game Call of Duty 4. The way this works is that every time a player is killed they are shown a short five second clip of how they were shot, who shot them and where they were shot from. Not only is this a great learning tool but it also helps the victim quickly locate their killer if they happen to be using the 'camping' tactic.

Microsoft are also doing their bit in the war against gamers who employ controversial tactics, taking each person from Xbox Live and adding a reputation rating to their Gamercard. This opens a window in to which the individual can be judged upon, so if a person is consistently irritating their fellow gamers by use of controversial methods then they will be much easier to spot.

Anthea Monod and Jean-Claude Usunier speak of the importance of good reputation, "Inspired trust leads to cooperation among users. The trust mechanism that emerges from reputation information has a positive effect on cooperation (i.e. if the reputation information proves to be positive, this will encourage cooperation; conversely, if the reputation information is negative, this will undermine cooperation). This discourages trustees from misbehaving overall: because potential trustors will use their reputation information as a factor in decision-making, it is in the trustees' interest to exert a higher level of effort". This however can have an adverse effect as the whole system is dependant on trust and allows any player to give negative feedback if the mood suits.

Conclusion

I honestly believe there will only ever be a balance through prevention. If companies can spot and cut down the number of these controversial tactics being included in their games before release or simply allow game hosts to enable or disable certain moves or abilities then everybody should remain content. The people who enjoy 'snaking' and such can do so against one another, whilst those who do not can join a game that suits their wants and needs, for me, this will be the only way a truly harmonious gaming environment will ever be achieved.

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  • Very interesting article. My opinion is obviously against any kind of controversial action on order to get what you want from a video. It's like a football player dives and gets the penalty that makes his team win. Unfortunately it happens and it's a fact but totally unacceptable.


    P.S. When sometimes I was in big trouble in some old adventure games I still own, I searched the internet for some walkthrough Tongue out

    Posted Feb 28, 2009
  • Yeah, puzzle/adventure games are the only ones i'll use a walkthrough for too. Sometimes, after days and days of tearing your hair out, there comes a point where you just have to say enough is enough.

    Posted Feb 28, 2009
  • Cheating in singleplayer is okay, so long as you actually know how to play the game right.


    People cheat or hack online simply because of one thing: anonymity. They have no fear of a serious reprisal (See: won't go to jail), if they know how to do it right, and for the most part, all that happens is that they get their accounts banned.

    Posted Feb 28, 2009
  • As far as snaking goes...I tried to learn how to do it...and it's hard.  So if you can do it...more power to you.  And as far as walkthroughs go...well...I try my best not to use them.  Though I did buy the LBP Strategy Guide for the creation section...but that's not cheating :P

    Posted Feb 28, 2009
  • Really interesting article.  The idea that a player will show up on the radar if they camp is sweet, and so is the 5sec replay if you get killed in CoD.

    Posted Mar 01, 2009

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Publisher(s): NoobFeed
Developer(s): NoobFeed Editors
Genres: Artcile
Themes: Feature, Editorial, Interviews, Opinion Pieces
Release Date: 2009-02-14

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