Nobody Likes A Cheater
HWM Singapore|September 2020
How Can Developers Better Address Cheating In Games And E-sports?
Kenneth Ang

Sure, giving yourself unfair advantages in single-player games will probably raise fewer eyebrows than it would in a PvP setting simply because your performance doesn't affect the experience of others, but it's hardly the most satisfying way to win, don't you think? Not only does it take away from the challenge of completing the game through sheer grit and skill, but it essentially tramples over all the effort the game's developers have put into creating them.

Which brings us to today's topic: what are some options that developers can explore to better address cheating in games, especially with esports becoming as prominent an industry as it is?

But let's not jump the gun. Before we can talk about what developers can do about these issues, let's first go over three of the more common tactics employed by cheaters these days, as well as several examples of how they've compromised the integrity of esports.

AIMBOTS AND WALL-HACKS

For the record, I hate aimbots. And so does every honest, self-respecting first-person shooter player out there. After all, having a piece of code do the hard work for you in an FPS game really defeats the purpose of playing it. There wouldn't be any more satisfaction from reacting faster than your opponent did, nor the aww yes moment of scoring a difficult headshot. At that point, you'd might as well be playing Boxhead on Y8.com.

Anyway, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, aimbotting and “wallhacking” is the practice of having an external software that can automatically track and aim at opponents through the map, even behind walls and other obstacles that you would normally be unable to see through, and fire your gun for you in shooters like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, removing the crucial human reaction time between seeing an enemy, lining up the shot and pressing the fire button. It would also automatically compensate for any accuracy-reduction mechanisms within the game that would require additional finesse or skill to counter such as gun recoil or motion. Naturally, in a genre where swift hand-eye coordination is as valuable as a Minecraft diamond, this makes a lot of difference in gameplay, as it is borderline impossible to escape a player who is basically as precise as a machine and can see the enemy to pixel-perfection.

Frankly, we don't have to look too far back to find an excellent example of a cheater who used this hack in a professional setting, and more importantly, got caught using it. The man in question was Optic India's Forsaken, a pro CS: GO player whose use of an aimbot software he'd amusingly named Word.exe let him score near-impossible shots on opposing players during the 2018 eXTREMESLAND Asia Finals.

Naturally, this logic-defying tracking raised many eyebrows, and match officials went over to double-check his computer. What makes this one really memorable was that he tried to delete the software when he realised the gig was up, although he wasn't able to do it in time, and it was all caught on camera. Accordingly, he and his team were disqualified outright, and subsequent investigations revealed that he'd cheated at previous tournaments too.

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