My first experience of on-line gaming was playing Battlefield 1943, it didn’t go well. Not being adept with the controls or the environment, I spent most of the session hiding behind a rock watching people dash past in every direction. When I finally felt confident enough to venture out from cover, I promptly blew myself up with my own grenade. Undeterred by the experience, and with my blood-lust undimmed I moved on to Call of Duty. This time I took up the role of elite sniper, hidden ingeniously in plain sight on top of a lorry unaware that I was about to be stabbed in the back while scoping for the enemy.
These are but two examples of my total lack of skills when it comes to computer games. Why do they make them so complicated that I can’t complete them? Why introduce difficulty levels when I’m too ashamed to admit to friends that I play every game on the easiest setting. In this context, is it any wonder that I resort to the dark side of cheat codes and walk-through’s. I don’t want to replay the same level over and over again, I don’t enjoy getting killed immediately after every re-spawn. It’s for this reason I discovered that I can get far more enjoyment from cheating and winning than toiling for days and weeks and limping over the finish line in a haze of late nights and bloodshot eyes.
In fact, I take offence at the term ‘cheat code.’ Is it really cheating when the option is there in the game? Why do I have to search on-line for the codes to make me invincible? They should simply be part of the options in any game. I choose to play FIFA with the commentators off, is it such a stretch of logic therefore to demand that I should be able to have the option of turning on unlimited ammo in GTA if I so desire? It leaves a bad taste in my mouth when I hand over my twenty pounds in exchange for an official walk-through and strategy guide, I’m not S.A.S. trained in jungle warfare, haven’t been raised from childhood by Ronin, or studied for my FIFA pro license. It’s not too much to ask for a little help along the way before I sacrifice months of my time on a game.
This brings me back to on-line games however, and the options for personal customisation of the gaming environment (my suggestion for the now surely defunct term of cheating). I have to admit that I face a crisis of faith when it comes to on-line gaming. I enjoy playing games tailored to my own preferences, but am also keen to shoot random strangers in the back in an on-line deathmatch. Is it possible for these two desires to coexist together? Or is it immoral to have an invisibility cloak and go around sniping people? It’s a predicament that I have yet to solve, and one that is only going to grow in my musings with the release of the next generation consoles.
It must be said also that it pisses me off when a company doesn’t include an insignificant cheat code to their games. It means I cant play the damn things because i’m that rubbish at them, and my fragile confidence takes another battering when that dreaded game over screen appears.