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Stop the witch hunt: Exploits are not cheating

This post has been edited by the GamesBeat staff. Opinions by GamesBeat community writers do not necessarily reflect those of the staff.

Ladies and gentleman, this crap needs to stop.

An alarming number of massively multiplayer-game fans actually believe (and defend by pointing to Terms of Use documents) that it is "cheating" to do something in-game without the assistance of anything outside the scope of the game (like hacks and whatnot) that MMO developers consider an "exploit."

 This mindset is as anti-gaming as it comes — right behind the travesty known as Super Smash Bros. Brawl — and it has to be squashed before it really gets out of hand (though it's already far too widespread).

 The latest example of this buffoonery is ArenaNet, the company behind the otherwise really cool MMO Guild Wars 2, which has been banning players for — get this — walking up to an in-game vendor and purchasing an item.

 That's it.

 
Are any of those characters a vendor?
BREAK ALL OF THEIR LEGS TO BE SURE.
 
 
Well, not quite. The items in question are obtainable via a special in-game currency (separate from the "normal" one) called Karma. High-end items were erroneously listed for way, way less Karma than they should have been, enabling players to purchase really powerful gear really early. This gave them a head start by allowing them to make copious amounts of the "normal" currency by selling to other, higher-level players.

No hacks were involved. They literally went up to the vendor and bought the item. BAM. Permabanned.

(And no, I didn't get banned for this. I, sadly, know better than to assume I can truly explore the game space of any MMO. Part of the reason I don't take MMOs seriously, even if I find many of them fun.)

Oh, ArenaNet decided to give the "offending" players a chance to "atone", but it still doesn't address the underlying problem.

Games are awesome. No, that's not the problem, that's the thing threatened by the problem.

Games are awesome because they are virtual worlds with objectives and rules enforced by the game itself. Real life is something much more complicated. While nothing stops me from committing acts of vandalism, social order will eventually find and punish me even though physical reality has no set wall between me and the act.

But in games, anything you can do is, well, fair game.

Part of the reason Street Fighter players who whine that throwing is “cheap" are rightfully called scrubs is because they fail to grasp this very core concept in gaming. They forget the idea that whatever is in the game goes. Even if throwing were reasonably unfair (it's not), it's in the game. It is a tool available to everyone who plays. It requires nothing external (i.e., hacks, physical intimidation in real life, etc.). It is there, fair, and just, so to the victor go the spoils. Rightfully so.

Look at these fantasy scrubs being all polite and giving throw-backs.
BREAK ALL OF THEIR LEGS TO PREVENT MERCY.
 
 
Yet in MMOs and other multiplayer communities, this is frowned upon or even condemned. A paladin finds a way to kill a World of Warcraft raid boss in one hit? He gets a ban. Players in Arathi Basin find a way out of the confines of the gated starting area before the match starts to cap nodes early? Banned. "Exploiting" raid lockouts and the Raid Finder system to double up on epic loot? Banned. All WoW examples, but a simple Google search will find you more, and from other games.

Now ArenaNet is getting in on the lunacy, for a thing that was their fault to begin with. 

It's a disgusting trend. Gamers looking to get better at the game — objective betterment being a core tenet of gaming, real gaming, not the Jonathan Blow and hipster indie crowd "storybook gaming" nonsense — are punished for using everything available to them including finding out how to exploit (not an evil term) what's in the game to their benefit, and improve. Get better. Win. Get further ahead.

Game design is where developers should stop activity they don't want to see.

I really don't like warp zones in Mario games; I'd rather they play out Yoshi's Island style, with you needing to tackle all the developers' and level designers' balanced challenges to meet the win condition. However, I cannot fault anyone for using them. They are there, and fair game. It is no less an accomplishment to warp to World 8-1 from 4-2 than to struggle there from 7-4.

Well well, looks like we gots us a potential exploiter!
BREAK ALL OF HIS LEGS FOR LORD BOWSER.
 
 
I really, really, really don't like Street Fighter X Tekken for a number of reasons, gem system included, but in any venue where gems are allowed, you're a fool to not pick the ones that will help you take first place.

Speaking of which, imagine if fighting game tournaments did what MMOs routinely do. Imagine if using Blackheart's demon infinite from Marvel vs. Capcom 2 were grounds for banning a player from tournaments because obviously Capcom "didn't intend for it." It would be a punishment based on inability to exercise the non-existent superpower of mind reading.

Yadda yadda Hayato scrub pancakes.
SOMETHING IN CAPS ABOUT BREAKING LEGS.
 
 
Using this word again: disgusting.

ArenaNet, Blizzard, and any other developer or gamer that supports banning people for using “exploits” is punishing players simply for playing the game. 


Screenshots from GiantBomb's archive. Visit GiantBomb.com. They're pretty cool.

Carlos Alexandre is a self-described handsome fat man. He ponders his entertainment, and you can find said ponderings on both his website and the podcast he co-hosts.


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