Understanding Cheating


No! Not that kind of cheating! Although I'm sure some of you have in the past or currently dabbled in the cheating you thought I was talking about. Specifically I'm speaking of cheating in video games.

As an avid gamer the psychology of the videogame cheater is fascinating and intriguing to me. Arguably there are two types of videogame cheaters

  1. The Single Player Cheater
  2. The Multiplayer Cheater 

I remember the first game I learned cheat codes for... Doom! It was 1993/94, I finished the first episode Knee Deep In The Dead, SEVERAL TIMES! Does anyone remember Shareware? I had not obtained the additional episodes at the time and began spending time with arguably the grand daddy of 3D RPGs, Ultima Underworld. Often I'd become bored with it or Myst and come back to the visceral fun of Doom. In a game magazine I stumbled upon cheat codes for Doom. I tried god-mode and hated it, it took all of the fun out of the game. I tried the wall clip which I found dumb. Then I tried the code I still remember to this day... idkfa! It was the code for infinite ammo and all weapons. And yet ... after a couple of level playthroughs with that code... the game was boring.

From that day to this I realized cheating in a videogame ruins the fun of the game!

Many years later after becoming better than average in multiplayer, I encountered my first cheater(s). You might think it was within one of the Quake series games or Unreal series. No! It was a little known Half-Life mod called Firearms.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQdIVAQy_Fo  I had become phenomenally skilled... legitimately, after years of experience with countless FPS titles often playing a PvP component before diving into the singleplayer aspect. Somehow I stumbled into a clan server, playing against some clan members. Eventually, I was offered a clan tryout, I accepted and after a short tryout, I was offered membership.

Days later, before a clan match my new clan mates asked where I obtained my cheats. I WAS DISGUSTED!!! Why? Because I wasn't cheating! They assumed I was just like them. In retrospect this was/is a HUGE compliment (being accused of cheating when you aren't). My new clanmates assumed I was cheating due to my skill, because THEY themselves were cheating,  incorrectly assuming my cheats were as good as or better than theirs. After insulting and vilifying the clan for being cheaters, in that moment I was kicked out of the clan... immediately!

Now, after years of multiplayer games, I've encountered various cheaters. Today, cheating has become prevalent and pervasive to the point that I've given up playing the vast majority of PvP games, preferring co-op instead. Puzzlingly and curiously, lately, I've witnessed and read about cheaters in cooperative games like State of Decay 2, Vermintide 2, Remnant from the Ashes, and HellDivers 2.

in the past and currently with GTA V, I've engaged with cheaters in conversation. Asking various questions such as

  • "Doesn't it remove the fun out of the game because you know the outcome of an encounter, level or match?"
  • "Isn't it a waste of time because the win isn't truly... real?"
  • "Is it possible to feel a sense of self pride or achievement when the victory isn't earned by developed skill?"

Many cheaters were responsive and open, with various responses from, "everyone does it" to "okay Dr. Phil, don't try to analyze me"

What about you,

What has been your experience with cheating or encountering cheaters?

Have you cheated in a single-player game, multiplayer game, or both?

How does cheating in multiplayer make you feel?

What are your thoughts about those that do cheat?


  • When I was a kid I'd use cheat codes for the earlier GTA games (San Andreas and earlier). It was always such fun to fly around with a jetpack and use unlimited ammo to take everyone out.

    As an adult though I haven't had any interest in cheating. I like to achievement hunt so that defeats the purpose for me. I also don't play multiplayer games, but I do moderate gaming content and it seems cheating is very prevalent in a lot of popular games. If you want to cheat in a single player game, that's fine. In multiplayer games it's just going to ruin the fun for everyone else.

  • Thanks for responding!

    I don't think the majority of cheaters care if they are ruining the fun of others. Take GTA V Online for example, I believe many of the cheaters desire to ruin the fun of others. It appears they take some type of perverse pleasure out of actively ruining an experience for another.

    People like this cause me to surmise they have no power, control, or find enjoyment in their lives, which allows them to want others to experience that feeling. As the saying goes misery loves company.

  • I loathe those who cheat in a multiplayer setting, especially in some form of "competitive" play (looking at you Warzone).  But, when in a single player game where you cheating doesn't hurt or harm anyone else's experience I think that it can be a lot of fun and change how some games are played.

  • I remember COD 4 getting ruined by cheaters.   Loved that game.

  • Cheating in single player games can be fun sometimes. You just grab a tank and a bazooka in GTA and go! 

    If you are having trouble with a game, it can also ease the hardship. I have never used this kind of cheat before, but I understand the use case.

    Cheating in multi-player is a curse, but there are 2 types:

    • I can understand type 1. Type 1 cheats to level the field for bad developed games. For instance: Pokemon. Cheating levels the field when everybody max the stats in a legit build. You either cheat or spend literally hundreds of hours in tedious tasks to find the ideal Pokemon for competition. Sometimes you need thousands of dollars in old hardware and cartridges to do it too. And even so you may not have access to the past days event that was exclusive of a city for a couple of days. If you don't cheat in Pokemon, you will be far behind. And, to be honest, it's better if everybody cheats because then you have a plain field instead of just RNG stuff. The game is flawed, so people cheat.

    • The type 2 is just toxic. Type 2 cheats to get an unfair advantage or bully others. For instance: Pokemon. People can have over the top stats or impossible moves using unlegit builds. This is the worst kind of cheater and these people have serious character flaws. 

    There goes my 2 cents. 

  • I just watched this video and found it interesting based on the topic at hand

    I found GameRanx's take on cheating interesting and it seemed to give a certain type of cheater, empathy. Personally for me, I have no empathy for a cheater in an online game.

  • Cheating removes the fun out of the game and is really pointless.

  • I used to love to play around with my Game Genie back in the day - that was good fun. Cheating is fine if you're comfortable with knowing that you got through a game  via less than honorable means...but cheating in multiplayer is weak. Winning is meaningless if you didn't really earn it. 

  • I will start off with I do not play multiplayer online games. Human nature is always going to be a factor. Some people can win competitive events on their own talents, and some can’t. In physical sports some reach for illicit performance enhancing drugs and in the virtual world, well I am not sure of the correct term other than cheats or hacks.

    What is different in video games than physical sports is the culture that ushered in the PC revolution and ultimately PC gaming. That culture was for the non jocks and not so cool kids to create something transformational in their garages. It was about using your intelligence over physical prowess. I pose the question of why are cheat codes a thing? The next question I ask is someone using their time and intelligence to research “unfair” ways to gain a competitive advantage in a game “cheating” or winning on other merits?

    Please don’t take this as I am condoning cheating at a professional level where money and endorsements are on the line.

    Much appreciated to you Tony C. for a great topic to ponder.