Cheating vs. Gaming

Cheating is not gaming.  When we say we’re “gaming” a system, what we’re doing is cheating or exploiting a loophole.  I believe that these sorts of negative connotations with our chosen profession set us back.  Maybe that can be my rant next year (joking).

I am sad at some of what I’ve read today.  I felt upset that the very well-intentioned, even innocent desire to win a game and a chance to speak at the GDC Social Games Rant has spurred blog posts that tarnish my very fond memory of what I thought was an amazing experience.

When I sat down with Jane at the rant, she told me she’d collected 12 coins already and we decided it would be fun to collect more.  At that time, I had no intention of ranting, just helping out with Jane’s collection quest– after all, games are fun!  We got up to ask people for their coins, and by the end of the first row  a talk idea was forming in my head.  I started to talk about my ideas to people, and they were responding well and handing over their coins. At that point, Jane said to me that I should come up and talk, too.  Of course, I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea.

By the time we’d sat back down in our seats, I was frantically thinking of what I wanted to say.  Several times I tried to back out, and Jane said “You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to, but I think that it’s awesome and important for more women to lend their voices to these things.”  That I could completely agree with.  I pared what I had to say down to two(ish) sentences, and did my best to make it relevant.  I was nervous, but elated.  In the end, I kept a coin as a token of my courage.

I guess the moral of the story here is that not everyone is out to screw you or to cheat their way to the front of the room– that was certainly never my intention.  Some people just like to play, and become better for that playing.  I grew from my experience, and to me it remains one of the best things I did at GDC, no matter what anyone else may say.

My point here is this: playing a game makes you better, cheating makes you worse.

4 thoughts on “Cheating vs. Gaming

  1. Avatrix

    Sounds like a you-had-to-be-there situation. Even with what I know about what was supposed to happen at the panel, and trying to follow twitter conversations, I’m not sure what happened or why people are upset.

  2. Thomas Grové

    “My point here is this: playing a game makes you better, cheating makes you worse.”

    In Street Fighter II, there were arcades where you could into trouble for “throwing” in the game. Some people claimed that “throwing is cheap”. Ignoring or avoiding “cheap” tactics that are allowed by the game rules means that you’re not going to grow as fully as someone who explores the entire possibility space, someone who is “playing to win”. This is an important and oftentimes misunderstood concept in competitive gaming. I’d highly suggest that you read David Sirlin’s e-book on the topic available here: http://www.sirlin.net/ptw

    If, as a game developer, you find someone exploiting the rules in a way you did not intend, you need to fix the bug and issue a new version of the product. Maybe they’ll have better luck next year writing rules that cover edge cases a bit better.

    Anyways, congrats on getting up the courage to rant!!! That’s awesome!

  3. admin Post author

    Absolutely. I think that the difference between playing and cheating is an internal, psychological difference. If you don’t feel you are cheating, then you likely are not. It gets down to a question of ethics and decision making.
    Games that have loopholes for people to exploit are asking for exploitation, but the truth is in the intent.
    For example, I played Fable 3 recently and I used the “cheat” where you leave the controller plugged in and just wait to get enough gold to get the good ending and make all the good choices. I didn’t feel like I cheated because I didn’t feel like I got any value from doing it the “right” way.

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