Consalvo: Cheating (book cover)
Ian Bogost and Mia Consalvo have new books out that look at games from interesting angles. Ian’s book, which is literally just published, is called Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames, and looks at “the way videogames mount arguments and influence players”. Ian runs the blog Watercooler Games along with Gonzalo Frasca, and makes, researches and writes about these games. Most of Gonzalo and Ian’s work has been on political videogames, little web-based games that make an argument, you know, but advertising and maybe education are other areas this is relevant to. I blogged a bit about political video games during the 2004 US presidential campaigns, and have a chapter in my dissertation about the Bin Laden games that appeared after September 11 – and a blog post with links to many of these games.

Mia Consalvo’s book, Cheating: Gaining Advantage in Videogames, is about cheating as a strategy in playing video games. She “investigates how players choose to play games and what happens when they can’t always play the way they’d like”, “provides a cultural history of cheating in video games”, and more. I’m the kind of player who loves to cheat – though I have yet to buy gold in World of Warcraft, I despise having to grind for hours and would love a shortcut through that boredom, and playing Zork and Infocom games in the eighties, my sister and I always begged Mum and Dad to buy us the hint books. We adored the invisible ink and the layers of clues – it was such fun! I even want hints for simple riddles, and I love that The Sims have official cheat codes to get infinite money. So I have great sympathy for a whole book dedicated to players who like me, like to cheat.

4 thoughts on “persuasion and cheating in video games

  1. JosÈ Angel

    Cheating is the game behind the game…
    Wow- i’m the kind of guy who never cheats, but now I’ve got the theory, I’ll think twice about it.

  2. Jill Walker Rettberg

    There’s clearly an ethical difference in cheating to gain advantage against other players who aren’t cheating (that’s not cool) and cheating in a single-player game where the objective is for you to have fun – I totally endorse that kind of cheating 🙂

  3. Tama

    “Cheating” used to be built into games, too: I remember SimCity on the old Amiga 500 used to have codes to that would give your more money, but if you used the cheat more than 3 or 4 times, there was an Earthquake and your city was rubble anyway! Whole magazines used to be based around cheat codes!

    That said, being a sibling game player, I don’t think quietly unplugging your sister’s joystick was quite what ‘cheating’ meant in the official sense! 😉

    I can’t wait to read both of these books, or to hear Ian talk DAC!

  4. Norman Hanscombe

    Sadly, Jill, cheating in education is so entrenched that despite an ICAC Report in NSW highlighting organised cheating with HSC Assessments,and pointing out that nothing could be done, because the rules were so loose, everyone’s simply sticking their ostrich heads into the sand and doing nothing. This despite the fact that the marks involved can have enormous unfavourable consequences for those who haven’t cheated. I guess I’m just old fashioned?

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