Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Multi.player 2011 - "Counter-striking the cheat" - Christoph Bareither

Presentation at multi.player 2011 by Cristoph Bareithe (University of Tubingen). Full title: "Counter-striking the cheat: The impact of cheating on an online gaming culture."

Looking at the effect of cheating has on the gaming community. Apparently in Counter-Strike there are a couple of code hacks that are well-known, allowing the cheater to see through walls or aim automatically. It's pretty much impossible for any other player to know if anyone is using these cheats, so it's the possibility that someone is using these cheats that is potentially damaging to the game community. Individuals using these cheats actually just look really skillful to the other players, so it may be that you just come up against someone who is a lot better than you.

Basically if a kill usually indicates superiority/inferiority (he likened it to a goal in football, one side is automatically superior to the other once the goal has been scored), cheating can destabilise that sign. The kill may not indicate superiority, but cheating. Players will need to renegotiate what a kill means. 

Actually, he said it was often used to mitigate the pain of being inferior. So if someone just got shot, they can call the person who killed them a cheater to tell themselves they aren't that bad after all. Apparently it's also used to express awe at the other's skill (and occasionally sarcastically - he said he was rubbish at Counter-strike, and his clan-mates sometimes called him a cheater in contexts suggesting they were taking the mickey). An interesting subversion of the otherwise bad social stigma of cheating. 

Players also form strong clan structures, trusting their fellow clan-members not to cheat. They have to trust each other. Breaking that trust often causes the players to be ostracised by their online friends. 

I love that there is a cheater rehabilitation program! Apparently it includes writing essays about how much you regret your cheating ways. Awesome. 

There was also some interesting chat about 'othering' the cheater. Demonising them, saying "we are not like that". 

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