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Thumbs at the ready: Extent of video game cheating revealed

Cheating often involves the use of cheat engines, which are open-source memory scanner/debugger programs.

Young man playing a video game. Image by Vadermonk - (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Young man playing a video game. Image by Vadermonk - (CC BY-SA 4.0)

From AI computer vision to aimbots (a type of computer game bot most commonly used in first-person shooter games), cheating continues to be very prevalent in the gaming community. The extent of the misdemeanours is apparent in new research from the company Time2play.

The survey assessed over 1,000 gamers to find out how many admit to cheating and the consoles and games with the most cheaters. In terms of how to define cheating, a starting point is: “those who seek the subversion of the rules or mechanics of online video games to gain an unfair advantage over other players.” This can have big implications when there is an association with e-sports and other competitions with financial prizes.

Cheating often involves the use of cheat engines, which are open-source memory scanner/debugger programs. There are no rules banning cheating, other than anything relating to specifically to a game where an exposed cheater may be suspended or banded outright from further activity.

The stand-out figure in relation to platforms was that 81 percent of PlayStation gamers said they resort to cheating. This was the highest among all gamers.

In terms of perceptions within the gaming community, PC gamers are perceived to be the biggest cheaters. However, they ranked second-to-last on the list of different media for playing video games.

Certain games were more likely to be sought out by gamers for ways to side-step the expected approach to playing. Understandably, these were contemporaneous titles. These games are: Among Us, Animal Crossing, and Apex Legends, which constitute the top three games with the most cheaters.

When a longer-term view is taken, more established titles feature with Age of Empires II, Animal Crossing (again), and Mortal Kombat ranking as having the most (and presumably most successful) cheats of all time.

As to why cheating is so widespread this seems to rest on the cultural acceptability of the practice of getting answers to gaming puzzles from other sources rather than attempting to self-solve them. Here the study revealed that 77 percent of gamers think it is perfectly acceptable to cheat.

Building on this, there is a demographic element. In particular, 83 percent of the population categorised as Gen Z were inclined to cheat. This places the cohort born between 1997 and 2012 as highest, and by implication most dishonest, among all generations surveyed.

Despite the willingness to find a way to circumvent the ‘rules of the game’, there is an indication that some soon come to regret this. The research also found that 74 percent of gamers said cheats have ruined a game for them.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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