Today's games come with intentional cheat codes and third parties create other cheats. This is fine; but a subtler form of cheating is exploiting a game's loopholes. This is also ok since finding and using a game's loopholes is a challenge and often the only way to survive.

But loopholes remove the rest of the game's challenge and its associated personal growth and fun. Sadly, loopless games are hard to make and rare. So, instead of not playing most games, people often just outlaw the loopholes. Seeking mastery, some people also outlaw simple, easy, or degenerate tactics to bring difficult and complex tactics to bear.

So, cheating is actually a continuum and is relative to the observer's ability and intention with the game. This causes disputes in games: the accuser says the accusee cheated. Usually though, they simply differ on what they tacitly outlawed. The accuser thinks the accusee intentionally cheated. Symetrically, the accusee thinks the accuser is only angry that the tactic worked so well. Tensions will spiral if they share their thoughts.

Of course, sometimes a person intentionally cheats for emotional reasons, such as frustration or anger. Subtler is when, hedonistically, vu cheats just to feel the pleasure of winning.

Trying to win causes pleasure to be associated with winning (cathexis), while actually winning fires off that pleasure but lessens the association (inthexis or extinction). When a person wins by cheating, the pleasure association is quickly depleated (athexis) since vu doesn't have to try and the cathexis process is lacking.

Generally, once a game's challenge is gone, a person often uses cheat codes to wring out the last bit of pleasure from the game. This ruins the game for vu since, afterwards, playing the game without cheating is boring. This is actually good since it removes any risidual addictions and provides closure to the game. However, vu shouldn't start out using the cheats.

A designer can assure a game's longevity by making its challenge adapt closely to the player's ability. Vu can assure its adoption by carefully balancing cathexis and inthexis at the beginning of the game. Vu can raise its popularity by making cheat codes explicit and minimizing loopholes.

John LeFlohic
March 4, 1999