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Why do People Cheat in Online Games?

2021.10.18
Jake from Game Academy

(Image Credit: top10esports.com)

Why do people play video games? More confusingly, why do people cheat in online games?

There are a wide variety of different motives behind video games.

My ‘drivers’ for playing include: management, the desire to analyse situations and prioritise; relaxation, the preference to play as a form of escapism from real-life pressures; and pleasure, a motivation to derive enjoyment and happiness from playing.

Most of the time, these drivers are definitely accurate. Nine times out of ten, I do choose to enjoy my evenings relaxing on the sofa playing some slow-paced strategy or simulation game. It helps me unwind after a busy week of work. In these situations, I generally turn to games like Crusader Kings III, Football Manager or city-builders like Kingdoms Reborn.

But there are other times where this doesn’t fulfill my gaming needs. These other times, I am looking for competition. I am looking to test my skills against a human opponent.

It is in these situations where I turn to Age of Empires II. I get to compete in tournaments or just on the ranked ladder against real opponents where my decisions matter. My choice of strategy is critical to the outcome. My skill is integral to victory.

Other people turn to FPS games with the likes of Call of Duty: Warzone, CS:GO and Fortnite. I understand the appeal of these. Fast-paced games pitching you against other competitors. Testing your speed and reactions.

Where my understanding runs out is the multitude of cheaters that exist in these titles. What is the motivation for these individuals?

It can’t be a desire to show superior skill or speed, they are not doing this. The only explanation I can manage is that it is to win.

This doesn’t feel like a sustainable motivator though. Winning at all costs (in this instance, even at the cost of legitimately playing) is a concerning driver. I’m all for competitiveness and playing to win but it does require playing on a level field.

I’m also not against using cheats in single player games. In these, cheating can be used to learn new aspects about a game or just to be able to relax with a less challenging mode. But I personally see a big difference between using cheats against an AI and against human players.

Most experts when they discuss gaming encourage parents of gamers to talk about it with their children, with a heavy focus on what they do in games and why. Deliberate practice, goal-setting and overcoming increasing challenges are all healthy motivators.

Are you interested in finding out more about your drivers? Take the quiz and learn more about what motivates you: Game Academy.

When I was a schoolkid, I used cheatcodes a lot. I even was able to complete Fallout 1 (my fav game series now) only when hacked save file and created the char with top stats. But later I stopped to use cheats at all. After this post I am trying to understand why I’ve changed my gaming approach, but have no ideas…

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