Cheaters. You can’t get away from them. No matter how a game is designed, people will find a way to cheat even when the design was intended to help less skilled players. The latest hub-bub of this happening is with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Apparently the “in” thing to do is to stand in the corner and kill yourself to lower your rating. This will get you moved into a match with lower rated players and let you place your domination upon them. You’ll feel like a bad-ass but the other players will feel cheated.
First off, if you are doing this you are a cheater, no mincing words about it. Play the game legitimately and earn your rewards fairly. Don’t take advantage of other players in order to gain rewards or to feel better about yourself. Developing your skills and getting better will ultimately be more rewarding than getting cheap thrills and rewards. Fortunately, Sledgehammer Games is looking to address this with the ever-powerful banhammer.
“Peel back another layer and ask how or why is this behavior possible in modern games.”
Look a bit deeper and try to determine why this behavior exists. The quick and easy answer is that it is just human nature to want the most results from the least amount of effort. Many of us are all for this but we should not be taking advantage of each other to do so. Peel back another layer and ask how or why is this behavior possible in games. Competitive, online matchmaking has been around for many years now and there should be systems to prevent these types of things from happening.
Having not played Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare I cannot speak directly for the matchmaking mechanics, but it seems that poor play will result in you being moved to a more advantageous lobby. The developers theory was probably based on the idea that players should be matched with like skill levels, not thinking people would ‘tank’ in a game in order to do so. Perhaps the error was to move the player into a different lobby whereas games like Halo 3 handled the issue by rebalancing the teams. This method took measures to evenly distribute, as best as possible, good and bad players across both teams. This, for the most part, kept any one team from dominating match after match.
Of course, no system is immune to all tactics. If Halo 3 players became familiar with each other or were clan members, they could enter into the game as a party and never be split up. Memory fades on this point, but it occurs to me that eventually the party would be moved to another lobby as to grant mercy on the downtrodden losing group.
“When it comes down to it though, the easy solution is to not be a cheater.”
When we think about the problem, the solution is simple – punish the cheaters. The problem remains as to how to properly identify those that are cheating. If you see a player that has zero kills but twenty deaths you might think they are cheating, but in fact it could be someone that has simply never played the game before. I’ll tell you that the first few times I played a Call of Duty game my K/D was in the 0.02 range and it took me a bit of time to get the feel.
Enter the realm of complex mathematics, statistics, and computational algorithms to determine the cheaters. The more statistics you collect on a player’s performance, you will gain more insight as to what they are doing. Tracking the type of damage causing a player’s demise–friendly fire vs. enemy fire vs. self-inflected damage–would be great information to have, but not all games are tracking this. Things like kills and assists are tracked, but even if a game accounts for friendly fire, are they tracking it per-kill and additive through out the game? You could be working with a buddy to kill each other in this reverse boosting scenario and if the game doesn’t count the friendly fire through out the match, you may go unnoticed as a cheater.
When it comes down to it though, the best solution is to not be a cheater. You’ll feel better about yourself and so will others. Think about how you feel when you play a game while somebody is taking advantage of you, and step back even further to think about how you feel when somebody cheats outside of gaming. It is good that studios are addressing the in-game problem, but it is up to each and everyone of us to stop it at its source, ourselves.
Paul Novak is a self described Polish ninja toiling away as an IT professional but more into gaming and writing. Physically existing in the west side of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania yet existentially flowing with the ether of the Internet. Found here at What’s Your Tag? and on the Twitter @dudewantshisrug. Game on with Team XBRO!