Week 5.2 – Have you ever had a gaming epiphany? (due before class on Feb 6)

Your reading from Mia Consalvo (2007) talks about Aarseth’s concepts of aporia-epiphany in gaming. Cheating in a game breaks the “a-ha moment”. What are your thoughts on it?

There are gaps in any game, that we have to come and fill in. When we find a solution, we have an “a-ha! moment” or an epiphany. I remember having an epiphany while playing Counterstrike when my friend told me that if my teammate and I did not care about planting the bomb as terrorists, the other counter-terrorist team could not find us as easily and we could surprise them just by playing the game differently than other times.  That was a good gaming session with family and friends! Was that also cheating?

What’s your story?

References:

Consalvo, M. (2007). “Gaining advantage: How videogame players define and negotiate cheating”. In Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames, MIT Press: Cambridge, MA. (pp. 83-106).

Gif source: https://giphy.com/gifs/11Q6BgLc5al3tm

10 Comments

  1. I guess I’m what you would call a video game purist, defined as someone who believes that “anything other than a solo effort in completing a game is cheating” (Consalvo 88). The text resonates with me when it discusses walkthroughs or cheat codes being alright to use only after “[the player] had completed the game” (Consalvo 89). I do agree that cheating breaks the “aha!” moment. In a puzzle game like The Room Three, there are many times where I feel quite stuck, but I know that there has to be a solution somewhere that I’ve overlooked. It’s tempting to Google the solution, but as the reading says, this breaks that “sudden revelation that replaces the aporia” (Consalvo 90) and I would not feel satisfied with the progress I make.

    In a more classic example, my brother and I used to play Super Smash Brother Melee quite a bit when I was younger. My choice was always Pikachu (as I love Pokemon), and Pikachu has a really powerful Thunder move that does a lot of damage. My brother would get really upset with me for spamming that move against him, even though there were no game rules against using the move in rapid succession. Though I wouldn’t classify this as cheating, it did provide me with an advantage that my brother classified as unfair, so in his eyes, I was cheating.

    More recently, this came to light when I was discussing with a friend the use of walkthroughs in games. She was using a walkthrough for her first playthrough of the game in order to find every secret area and treasure in the game. I consider this cheating, though I don’t condemn others for doing this, but it feels like personal cheating to me. You lose that aha! moment of finding secret areas and treasure yourself, you lose that sense of achievement, and at that point, is it really worth it? Games are meant for enjoyment, and to me, Googling all the answers doesn’t make me appreciate or enjoy the game.

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  2. For the most part I am a video game ‘purist’, opting to challenge myself to complete the game and attain all trophies without help, however, I would argue that there are a few games that are so deeply complicated that without a little assistance, a walkthrough in my case, it’s nearly impossible to truly ‘enjoy’ everything the game has to offer. While I don’t condone the use of codes as it not only defies the purpose of the game but makes everything so unchallenging that any excitement is quickly bled, sometimes a balance has to be found where the player enjoys the entirety of the game content while the creator’s work is also acknowledged and respected.

    As for myself, I have ‘cheated’ only three times, to my recollection; all in varying degrees. The first is the blatant use of cheat codes in The Sims, where I justified having an unlimited access to money so that I could ‘enjoy’ the games home builder. Unfortunately, I can say with absolute certainty that the use of the codes robbed me of all joy very quickly. Without the feeling of earning or accomplishing my rewards I quickly grew bored and uninspired, having felt I had experienced all the game had to offer with none of the risk or strategy.

    The second time was while playing the original Bloody Roar. Easily one of my favourite games growing up, I found it was incredibly easy to capitalize on the reach, speed, and power of Wolf by spamming his kicks until my opponent either died or gave up. It was all fun and games when I was doing it, but my perception quickly changed when I was on the receiving end. To this day, I can’t bring myself to play PvP console games because I get so incredibly frustrated with how ‘unfair’ it feels. My only exception is the Dead or Alive franchise, who implemented a ‘counter’ technique that could be used against button spammers.

    Lastly, and most arguable, would be the use of a strategy guide or walkthrough for Final Fantasy X. I had beaten many previous Final Fantasy games and felt devastated when I missed content that was chapter or scene exclusive (meaning once you’ve missed it, it’s gone forever). And while I agree that walkthroughs should not be used for strategy or game content that can be learned, I feel there are some games that hide content so well that without a little help there is no way to discover it without luck. Finally Fantasy X is an excellent example of this because it has 26 Al-Bhed primers hidden throughout the world, some of which can only be found in a specific scene. Without discovering them all, you can’t access some of the other secret content, and the primers are often hidden in very obscure places. Personally, I feel that if I’m going to invest a substantial amount of time and energy into a game, I have the right to experience everything that game has to offer; while there are only a few games that I would even consider for walkthroughs, I argue that if a game is designed to take 40-80 hours to complete I’d rather not have to play it twice to maximize my experience. In the right hands with the right movie, a walkthrough guide is a compliment to the game developer, because the gamer isn’t using it to make things easier, they’re using it because they want to see, feel, and experience everything the game developer’s have created.

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    1. Edit last line:
      “In the right hands with the right motive, a walkthrough guide is a compliment to the game developer because the gamer isn’t using it to make things easier; they’re using it because they want to see, feel, and experience everything the game developers have created.”

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  3. I would guess that every player or group of players have their own set of rules regarding what constitutes cheating or being unfair in gaming, even before formally analyzing the matter. My first experience with video games was together with my older brother, and since that moment, we spent countless hours playing numerous titles throughout the years. It is ingrained in my mind that we are one player and I would never think of my brother as a “cheating resource” to overcome any game’s obstacle.

    To illustrate my point of view, one rule that we abide by when going through a single-player campaign for the first time is to never reach out to the internet, magazines or walkthroughs to progress in the game. If one or more friends happen to be physically playing with us, their input is “allowed,” but we have never called them to ask for help. But after beating the game, if we decide to play it again, we do agree that some forms of cheating (like using the internet or cheat codes) might bring pleasure and a much different experience of the same game.

    One of our favorite game franchises is Resident Evil, and the satisfaction that comes after solving the game’s puzzles is one of the main reasons that I like video games so much. Other than the in-game challenges, even though my brother and I are seeking the same goals, which is to help each other and beat the game, there is a subtle and inexplicit “race” to see who figures out the puzzle first. And this friendly competition only adds value to what is already a great experience.

    So personally, I firmly believe that cheating radically reduces or even eliminate the pleasure derived from having the “epiphany” described by Espen Aarseth, and also that the greater the struggle is, the more satisfying or bigger the epiphanic moment.

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  4. According to the textbook, “The greater the struggle is, the more satisfying or bigger the epiphanic moment. Taking this back to the use of guides and walkthroughs, such items will either reduce or eliminate the satisfaction derived from having an epiphany” (Mia Consalvo, 2007). I was nodding my head while reading this paragraph. Based on the experience I had from the past, I did feel less sense of achievements when I applied the tips, which were provided by the game or a friend, to a puzzle video game. This situation also happened when I took my friend’s game which he had achieved the highest level. I completed the game without exerting any effort. I believe if the purpose of playing a game is to enhance or train an individual’s mental ability by utilizing the planned strategies, the behavior of cheating in the game does not serve its spirit in the game at all.

    However, if we have been stuck in a game for a while, why not seek assistance to walk through it? I like playing puzzle games most of the time. If the estimated time to complete a mission in a game is beyond my expectation, I prefer to ask for help or tips from any legitimate source, such as suggestions from friends, solutions from the Internet or the hints to unlock the riddle embedded in the game. I think it is hard for me to hold the painstaking and struggling feelings over a couple of hours and days. I believe as long as I still get the “a-ha moment” or learn how to solve a problem in the game from others’ perspectives, then the ultimate goal to improve the individual’s intellect in a game still exists.

    On the other hand, I have heard of many serious cheating cases involved money and the game players who got caught while selling the codes or coins in games online to make a profit. Some cheaters were not allowed to play the game anymore to punish them using plug-in software and sharing with other game players. As far as I am concerned, game players should avoid any situation that could violate the legality in terms of laws or gain any benefit or profit out of sharing the information. Furthermore, the shared information should not be interchangeable if it will cause any negative effect on the game developers or other game players. In conclusion, game players should still follow the rules or orders. If there is any need to take the walkthroughs, it supposed to serve for elevating self-development not for making a profit.

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  5. In regards to the definition, I agree with most of the purists that cheating occurs “when you use external sources to complete a game,” or “anything other than a solo effort.” I can’t consider myself a purist though, as I will often refer to walkthroughs while playing certain games even though I consider it cheating. However, unlike a lot of the players I don’t feel the need to justify this as I know that I would personally prefer to peek at a walkthrough rather then spend hours in frustrating trying to solve a puzzle whose solution is eluding me. Like many of the interviewees, I typically only use walkthroughs when I have attempted to solve the puzzle by myself, however I have also completed entire games by following a walkthrough. In having this experience I can agree that by using guides you lose the satisfaction of the “a-ha” moment which may take away from the enjoyment of the game.
    As previously mentioned, although I agree with the purists on what constitutes cheating I still do it.

    One obvious example of cheating that I do regularly is use cheat codes while playing The Sims. I use codes in order to play with unlimited money, and keep my Sims needs met. I have tried playing this game without cheating and found it extremely unenjoyable. My characters were always unhappy, dirty, over-tired and I couldn’t seem to keep up with their basic needs, let alone branch out and experience everything the game has to offer. Once again I know that this is cheating, but without doing it I would give up and stop playing. Like the article suggests, constantly “failing…destroys the please in playing and ultimately end the game.”

    The one kind of cheating that I would not take part in would be to gain an unfair advantage over other players. I only cheat in single player games, where my game is the only one that is altered by my actions. I often play Super Smash Bro’s with my friends, and only play Link or Toon Link as they have a move done by pressing down and then B, that when done correctly is really effective, but extremely annoying for other players. While playing my tactic is to stay slightly removed from the action and then spamming my “down B” move when I can. When I win by using this method my friends usually get mad and tell me I cheated, however I consider this a strategy rather than cheating. I feel the same way about camping in FPS games, and your method in CounterStrike.

    In conclusion, I don’t think that cheating is a negative act if it makes a game more enjoyable for the player. However I would not personally take part in any cheating that affects other players. As the article suggests there are many levels of cheating and I think it is up to the gamer to decide what they are and are not comfortable with.

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  6. I completely agree with Aarseth’s idea of a gaming epiphany as a phenomenon. The feeling of accomplishment given by completing a difficult puzzle or overcoming a difficult area of combat is one of the main factors that makes playing games enjoyable for me. I’m not sure I have a specific, memorable experience of one in particular though – which could be attributed to my behaviours regarding what some people interviewed for Consalvo’s piece consider cheating.

    By the broadest definition given in Consalvo’s piece, which regards “anything other than getting through the game all on your own” as cheating, I cheat quite often (88). I do make some effort to avoid walkthroughs, and enjoy solving puzzles on my own, but I am quick to resort to a walkthrough once I have tried everything that seems logical to me to solve a puzzle. I’m easily frustrated and hate the feeling of being stuck in a game, as Consalvo’s subjects describe on pages 95-98. This isn’t something I consider cheating, though. My definition of cheating is in line with the narrowest one outlined in this piece – cheating only “counts” if it directly affects other players playing against the cheater, not just a single player game and the one playing it. I’ll use colloquial language like “cheat codes” to refer to manipulating a game’s code as opposed to developers’ set boundaries, but I don’t truly view this as cheating anyone.

    That being said, I still choose to avoid partaking in these behaviours I do not consider cheating, as they can somewhat decrease the feelings of satisfaction that can be gained by working through a game on one’s own. I don’t particularly feel guilty when I do use things like walkthroughs, however. For example, I remember a time during my first playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap where I became stuck on a puzzle involving pushing blocks across a floor of ice the right number of times, in the right order, and in the right direction in order for them to cover the two switches that opened a door. After many tries, I was becoming frustrated and chose to look up a walkthrough. At that point, the relief I felt from getting past this puzzle room and being able to move on in the temple surpassed the satisfaction I would’ve gotten from completing the puzzle after so long. Apart from situations where one’s modifications to a game could influence other players against their will, it’s completely up to the player whether they want to gain their satisfaction from a game from completing it as the developers intended or from messing around with it in their own way.

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  7. I’d say I’m partway between what Consalvo defines as a purist and the group midway through the continuum. Because as I obviously believe altering the game to gain an advantage over other players in a multiplayer situation is cheating, the single player world is its own animal. I believe that while cheating yourself in a single player game does exist and robs you of the “a-ha! moment”, I accept the existence and utilize outside sources such as friends or guides. I don’t view them as cheating per se, but on the other hand, I try to avoid them if at all possible.

    I’ve talked about my affection for the 1993 computer game MYST in class, but never really why. MYST is a solely single player, puzzle solving game that just kind of plops you on an island with minimal background information, and no clear mission. To make a long story short, I got introduced to the game by my cousin when I was probably around 10 years old, and was immediately drawn in, and also very confused. He’d point me in the right direction from time to time, giving me hints as to what does what, and where to go next, but never a clear answer. This is the perfect level of “cheating” in a single player game for myself (even though I wouldn’t necessarily define it as that). I try what I think is the right answer, and if it doesn’t work out, and I become stuck, there’s a little nudge that helps me in the right direction, without robbing me of the “a-ha! moment”.

    I’d say that while I’m in the purist category of gamers, the one thing that jumped out at me from the readings was the notion that “players also acknowledge certain soft rules in defining for themselves how far one could perhaps venture outside the circle for help. This is certainly not breaking the rules such as the cracking or hacking of codes that form other definitions of cheating but is instead a more complex negotiation of cultural systems of support in gaming culture” (Consalvo, 2007). From reading the article, there is no single definite definition of cheating, but rather general thoughts on the topic, as well as individual’s thoughts.

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  8. I do believe cheating in games destroys the “a-ha moments” or epiphany in games. “The moment when we grasp the logic of the puzzle or determine what attack to employ is our epiphany” (Consalvo 90) explains epiphany gamers will get very well. Epiphany’s gives you the feeling of success from completing difficult challenges and problem solving. When a gamer cheats this “moment” never happens for them and the epiphany cannot happen. This can take away from our enjoyment game, however these epiphanies do not make the game fun alone.

    Playing games is mostly for entertainment purposes. Every person that plays games enjoys different parts of the game. For example a player playing Undertale (2015) may be following the story closely and enjoying it, however to continue the story they must defeat a powerful boss. So to defeat this boss they watch walkthroughs and strategy guides to progress pass this boss and continue through to the story. Using these methods some players (In Consalvo 2007) would consider this cheating and destroying the “a-ha moment”. The player though used these resources to simply enjoy the part of the game they want to play which will cause their own “a-ha moments”.

    In my time with games though there has been “a-ha moments” from whole games that would have ruined the experience with some sort of cheating. Portal for example is a great puzzle game that the farther you make it into the game the more moments you get. With the complexity of the puzzles thrown at you by GLaDOS it can be frustrating to complete each one. Cheating would allow you to beat these levels without ever getting the feeling of success of completing the puzzle. For a game like this where a lot of the enjoyment of the game comes to solving puzzles, and can drastically change the enjoyment of the game by cheating.

    Cheating doesn’t have a blanket view of good or bad. It varies from game to game and player to player. Players can cheat for many reasons and they sacrifice moments in the game that others solved on their own. For that player though they are still enjoying that game, they may have taken a different path to reach the end, and they still enjoyed the journey.

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  9. Cheating is a part of all games and I don’t see anything wrong with doing it if you can. As a player in a game it is in your power to play how you want to play. Even in professional sports, players will cheat to have an advantage. It is the same in video games, if you have the opportunity to cheat you can. The reading went on to list many reason whys people cheat in multiplayer games which consisted of revenge and bots or cheat programs to win (101). This is the same in live sports such as hockey, soccer and football. Players are always looking for edges to win and breaking the rules is a part of it.
    Cheating in all games is frowned upon, but it is a part of competition and fun. Some players cheat to cause havoc and trouble in games (102). This kind of behaviour reminds us all that games are for fun, and the types of players that are cheating are sometimes out there to remind us that or to “show superiority”. “Its fun to play god” (98), is an accurate statement on why some people enjoy games like GTA (grand theft auto). There are plenty of cheats that can make the game more desirable to play such as; an access to powerful weapons, tanks and other resources that can raise the extremeness of game play.
    In many ways cheating does take the a-ha moment away from games, but it’s the players choice if they want to take that away. I think that’s the beauty of being able to cheat, knowing if something isn’t going your way, you can make it go your way. Many games give us chances to cheat but no one is forced to bend or break the rules, I think people can do whatever they want with a game, as it is for our entertainment.
    As the reading explained that cheating is a complicated thing and can express many different meaning from players (94). Why people cheat is for their own business, and in terms of codes that allow people to cheat or game flaws that result in some kind of advantage are a part of the game. The legal system as a real-life example expresses how there are many flaws within it that let people get away with crimes. Should something be done about this? Yes, but till they are fixed, people will take advantage of it.
    One game I cheated in often was Pokémon Blue for Gameboy. After I beat the main part of the game, I took advantage of an in-game cheat which took place at safari ridge. The cheat allowed a player to have a 100x of an item which was in a specific slot in the item list. The cheat consisted of finding a Pokémon known as “themissingno” (from what I remember) it was a game glitch that consisted of beating the Pokémon and turning off the game. I used this cheat to level up my Pokémon by using “rare candies” to trade to friends as a kid. Since Pokémon was a social game where Pokémon could be traded to other games it was a good incentive for me to have high level Pokémon to trade so I could get Pokémon that were unavailable in my version.

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