There is a gray area between be a little dishonest and cheat consciously.
Who has not tried to escape payment on another player’s property in Monopoly or taken a look at the opponent’s cards in Clue?
Even if we never intended to cheat, the little adrenaline rush not paying at someone’s box or taking advantage makes us feel good.
Although for most they only give rise to a few family disputes during the holidays, and perhaps an overturned board, the traps they are a major problem in professional games.
Without going too far, the coaches of Counter Strike esports teams were recently banned for taking advantage of bugs and fixing matches.
The best esports players can earn millions of dollars, so any suspected cheating is thoroughly investigated.
The worlds of professional poker and bridge they have also been rocked by recent cheating scandals.
But, despite attempts to stop cheating in both professional games and amateursare actually more common than we think.
Surprisingly, they can also be a good thing.
The Whyville, created in 1999 as an educational resource for children over the age of eight, may seem like the most unexpected game in which to learn more about cheating.
But evidence that they can be done anywhere and that they are present in many spheres of life, says Mia Consalvo.
She is the author of “Cheating: How to Get Advantage in Video Games,” and a professor of game studies and design, and communication studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
In Whyville the players solve science and math puzzles in exchange for “clams”, the used virtual currency of this world online.
Clams can be exchanged for avatar upgrades like new facial features, haircuts, or possessions, while players can design their own upgrades to sell at the price they want.
The game won praise for its innovative use of virtual currencies and for attract a younger, mostly female audience to science and math fields (At one point, a virus, Whypox, spread across the faces of the avatars and players had to figure out how to stop it.)
“When I found out that this game was for teens, I told the developers that there probably wouldn’t be a problem with cheating, ‘” Consalvo says.
He had good reason to believe that it would.
Most of the research on cheating at the time focused on men, she says.
Men were thought to cheat more than women.
However, the Whyville developers noticed something unusual: there was a game in which 68% of the audience was female, specifically between 8 and 13 years old, but in which traps abounded.
Like many games, there were cheat codes and step-by-step guides on how to win.
But Players also hacked each other’s accounts or created sub accounts to scam and get more clams, explain Yasmin Kafai, a professor of learning at the University of Pennsylvania, and Deborah Fields, at Utah State University.
Inflate the market
Consalvo was also struck by another type of cheating in the game, something he had rarely seen in others.
Using the chat feature, some of the girls were rigging the clam market conspiring to increase the value of their products.
Girl groups were publicly saying how rare or sought after a particular upgrade was, and how much they would be willing to pay to trick other players into overpaying for their products.
Consalvo calls this a kind of “social arbitrage,” a form of market manipulation.
“That’s great, isn’t it?” Says Consalvo, about the ingenuity of the girls.
“You can never predict who will do what in a game. There will always be something new and interesting ”.
Why were they cheating?
In his book, Consalvo describes an idea called “gambling capital.”
Being good at a game brings social prestige to a certain group.
The good players they want to maintain their status and be sought after as experts.
Interestingly, it could be the case that best players sit a need mayor to cheat than worse than them.
The fear of losing something appears to be a greater motivator for cheating than the lure of a gain.
“There is this knowledge that you get from playing a particular game in depth … and that’s something you can share with other people,” says Consalvo.
“The idea is that you have a kind of cultural capital.”
But for maintain that status, sometimes players can feel the need to to cheat.
This may be because the loss a player feels in a game is real.
It hurts to have your playing capital taken away, even if it’s Monopoly dollars or Whyville clams you’re losing.
The idea of cheating to maintain status it could be supported by evidence from other areas.
Kerry Ritchie, who researches improving teaching at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, says that Most academic cheating is performed by high achievers (60% of offenders scored 80% or higher).
Although cheating in education is not the same as cheating during a game, the similarity is that those at the top feel the pressure to maintain their status.
But there are other factors that influence whether or not we cheat.
The more cheat friends a player has, for example, the more likely they are to cheat in the future.
This could be for two reasons.
One, to thesocial influence, or when the decisions of our friends cause us to alter our behavior.
the one of, homophilia, when we look for friends who are like us.
“People will say, ‘Well, there are other people cheating, so I need all the advantages I can get too,’” Consalvo adds.
So were they honest players being influenced by their dishonest friends on Whyvilians? Or are the people who are more likely to cheat looking to be friends?
Research indicates that it could be the latter, as we tend to be friends of people who show similar levels of trustworthiness.
But Kafai and Fields point out that the Market manipulation in Whyville requires a lot of social interaction, so friends can influence each other.
Players are more likely behave dishonestly if they can say that it benefits other people besides themselves.
Cheating in a group it can also allow some players to justify their behavior.
In a 10-year follow-up of their study of cheating in Whyville, Kafai and Fields found that (although the average age of the players had risen a bit) it was still common and openly discussed among people who gambled.
Kafai and Fields say this can be a good thing: It encourages young players to wrestle with moral judgments and, because cheating is commonly a community activity, it requires negotiation.
However, they also observed the negative effects of cheating.
Although some were quite innocuous, having the clams removed hurt the players.
Kafai and Fields give an example of a 12-year-old girl, Zoe, who, after being cheated out of her earnings, went on to cheat for the first time the next day.
Then two weeks later, he stopped playing.
The game magic had been ruined.
Kafai and Fields explain that the scam is an activity that is directed at other players and does not go against the design of the game itself.
And they also speculate that it could be related to cyberbullying.
They say that the high rate of gambling scams demonstrates the need to educate children about the effects of their actions.
Beyond multiplayer games, cheats can improve gameplay. single player games and they are not made at the expense of another player’s enjoyment.
When played alone, cheats can repair moods, relieve stress, and satisfy psychological needs.
Consalvo attributes this to several reasons.
First of all, sometimes the games are not perfect.
A little flaw or carelessness can mean that a player gets stuck, and that’s not fun for anyone.
Consalvo explains that this is overwhelmingly the reason most people cheat.
Compare this to reading a book.
If the reader has to fully understand one chapter before moving on to the next, people may lose interest and leave the book.
However, many games are designed so that the player has to complete a level before continuing.
Unlike a book, difficult parts cannot be skippedr.
Some games are boring too, Consalvo says, and it could be more fun to “play God” and experiment with the game.
Players can show your creativity by finding new ways to play, using cheats to set new limits.
If all that is at stake is an imaginary coin or our own pride for completing a game fairly, maybe cheating isn’t so bad.
The deceptive Whyvilians who manipulated the market were certainly showing their creativity.
Hopefully they also learned where the boundary between good and evil.
It may interest you:
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.