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Should game developers have cheat codes for their games?

Posted by Jason on March 29, 2017 at 12:35 AM

For as long as they have lasted, video games have incorporated options for players to cheat during the course of a game. Originally, cheat codes were included for the sole purpose of play testing a new game or a new version of an old one. Video game mechanics were tested using this process and soon the cheat codes were officially installed. This made the process much easier and players soon were able to type in a code or issue a simple command and the ability to use a cheat code was immediately activated.


A more basic version of a cheat code is one that is already included within the video game itself. They are typically activated when a password is entered or if certain controls are pressed in a particulcar sequence. Game boundaries and paremeters can be modified by using a specific debugging console where characters are unlocked or their performance is enhanced. A character may get better at jumping or flipping, or they could get put into noclip or god mode where they can access superpowers.


The earliest example of a cheat code was known as the Konami Code. Otherwise known as the Konami command, this code was first developed and used in the 1986 release of the Gradius game series. It was later adopted by game players in North America in the NES version of Contra. It soon became known as the "Contra Code" and the "30 Lives Code." Due to its growing popularity among video game players, the Konami Code was soon adopted into the rest of the Gradius series and other versions of it soon made its way into other video games.

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However, the question remains: Should developers have cheat codes in order to make their games easier to win, or should those codes be excluded for the sole purpose of a win to ensure that it is truly earned? Before answering this question, it is important to note that the original purpose of the cheat codes was not to make the games easier to win, but to remain in place just in case the testers needed to cite ways that a game could or should be improved. Developers such as 3DRealms do not like to remove the codes because it is possible that they may need to be accessed through retesting prior to putting a game out on the market. To the unseasoned, it would look as though providing those codes would be wrong for the simple fact that they pave the way for players to cheat. But developers know that even in the final stages of game development, opening the codes and removing them could cause significant damage to the game before it reaches the market. The code is sent to the company, who reserves the right to accept or reject it. At times, game developers may simply forget to remove a code whether or not the company approves its inclusion into the game.


Video game cheating is more commonly defined as posing as a player who obeys all the rules while seeking covert ways of beating their opponents. In most cases, such as games with more than two players, it becomes very difficult to recognize. Because there are no sure fire ways for companies and developers to target and identify the cheating, this practice goes largely unnoticed. One form of cheating, known as aimbotting, is based mainly on a system that gives players information about their opponents. This happens regardless of the positions of the players, whether or not they are hiding behind walls, and how far away they might be in terms of location, location. Artificial lag/lag switching relies strictly on a peer-to-peer gaming model and involves a considerable slowdown of data streams where the opponent's moves are delayed significantly or interrupted. Lag switching happens when gaming network connections are disrupted between the players and the game server. This is done when the switch is turned on and off. Game inventors have developed special protective software to guard against these lapses in movement and time. Otherwise known as voltage detectors, these methods are used by detecting the change in voltage during play. Once detected, the software can act to put a stop to it.


Other cheat codes include the look-ahead approach, one in which a player can delay a move while watching what his opponents are doing. World hacking allows players to exploit bugs and get much more information regarding the level that they are currently on than is allowed. This is done either by personal hacking or by a third party computer program. The ESP approach is used in the course of a game by revealing specific information about opponents that would normally remain secret, such as the health of their avatars, their names, equipment being used, game positioning, and orientation through the use of navigation markers. Removal of a game's elements involves the overall ability of the cheater to rid the game of any annoyances or hindrances. This includes factors such as speed, weapon recoiling, and complex visual effects. These removals, however, result in the decrease of a user's skill level requirements, thus making it much too easy to advance to the next level.


Given the above information, the question remains: Should cheat codes remain within the games, or should they be removed? For those who wish to earn their right to win or to advance to the next level, the answer is no. Losing is a necessary component of the playing experience. If for some reason the codes were never removed, players still have an option of whether or not they should use them. As some of the above examples have cited, the application of these codes poses a nuisance to the opponent and could affect a computer and its operating system, especially as they are activated online. Although they may serve to make the games easier, they run the risk of potential abuse by each player if they are activated and used much too frequently. A significant feature of not activating a cheat code is that one could become cognitively engaged by actively earning their way to the next level while subsequently besting the enemy. Since some developers still include these codes, the choice is up to the players.


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Categories: Gaming and other topics, Cheat Codes