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Study Reveals There Are More Cheaters Than We Ever Realized

It would be an understatement to say that cheating is a problem in the gaming community. High profile cheating incidents – like Ludwig cheating for views or Dream's speedrun scandal – earn clicks and views from fans, but smaller incidents of gaming dishonesty are what typically permeate online lobbies and earn complaints from gamers. For example, cheaters managed to ruin "Call of Duty: Vanguard" before it was even released, and "COD" developers have been trying to rid the game of them ever since. Investigations into cheaters only led to more questions. Perhaps people shouldn't be so judgy, though.

A new study by Plitch, detailed in TheGamer, revealed that over half of gamers have cheated when playing. That doesn't mean that every single player you encounter in "Warzone" is using alteration software, but it does mean that many gamers have tried out cheating to see how it feels. Plitch's larger point is likely that cheating can make games more fun, and therefore gamers should use its product. Plitch is PC software designed to modify games in order to help train players to be better, or just have more fun. Gamers can use Plitch's settings to gain unlimited resources in survival games or unlimited ammo in first-person shooters, but they can also use the same codes to make games more difficult, therefore increasing their skills with practice. However, there are some important differences between Plitch's point that most gamers cheat and the software that it's offering players.

Cheating is fun

We should note that cheat codes are nothing new. In fact, Plitch is, in many ways, like a modern-day Game Genie. The Game Genie was a device used to modify games, essentially cheating, but because it predated online play, it wasn't used against others competitively on a larger scale. Similarly, Plitch can only be used in single-player games – so don't think you can just get unlimited ammo to go on a rampage in "Warzone" online.

The larger point of Plitch's study (via TheGamer) is to show that cheating isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes, gamers simply want to relax in a digital world. Instead of scrambling for resources in "Stardew Valley," players could breezily work on relationships with the locals as they tap into their unlimited fortune like the luckiest trust fund baby. When given the opportunity to make a game more enjoyable for themselves, many gamers take it.

Plitch's study showed that 57% of gamers polled said that they had used cheats before, and 37% of respondents said that they exclusively used cheats in single-player games to enhance their experience. Plitch's study showed that a majority of gamers will use exploits if given a choice, but that the majority of those people don't want to harm others by doing so, and are instead content to use cheats privately. Some expressed hesitation to share their views on cheating because they wanted to be seen as a good, fair player, while others were aware that cheats are generally frowned upon in the larger gaming community.

Cheating eliminates boredom

A similar study by Plitch focused specifically on players of "Anno 1800," an immersive city-building game that puts players in charge of constructing a bustling, wealthy empire. Plitch argued that because "Anno 1800" often has extensive downtime, using exploits can eliminate the need to wait for things to happen. When given the opportunity to use Plitch's software, players could get rid of those boring parts, creating a better experience for themselves. Of course, it wasn't enough to ask players how they felt. Plitch had to go deeper.

Plitch's study used EEG machines to track brain activity in its participants, ultimately creating a heatmap to track players' emotions while gaming. Without Plitch, gamers were bored or unhappy, struggling to sit through prolonged stretches of gaming where they had to wait for structures to be built or time to pass. Gamers who used Plitch to cut that time down showed more positive emotions, and were overall less bored with the game.

Plitch also claims that its software helps people who might not normally be able to access games enjoy them comfortably. An interview with one gamer and Plitch user showed that the software could be used to remove boundaries that sometimes keep people from gaming, especially in terms of disability.

While Plitch isn't advocating for gamers to cheat while playing with others online (in fact, part of its core policy is that it's "fair"), there's some perception that cheating is almost always a negative thing. However, the studies show that being a bit more open-minded as to why people cheat might not be a bad thing. Maybe it's time for everyone to dust off those Game Genies and enjoy playing again.