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Cyber Bandits Get Their Just Desserts

Joe Johnson

Gaming is big business and it is common knowledge that the games industry is more lucrative that it’s silver screen equivalent and has been for some time. It goes without saying then that, of the millions of people purchasing and playing games all over the globe, there is a growing hardcore clan of gamers that take their hobby very seriously. A far cry from the casual part-time player sitting on the bus playing Nintendogs on their DS, the serious gamer will devote large swathes of time to their passion, often arriving home from work and logging in for an evening of online action. The rise of online console gaming has contributed to gamers spending more time on their favourite titles, online multiplayer aspects of the Call of Duty and Halo franchises add value to the central single player mode and extend the lifespan of the game by months or even years.

One criticism of early online console gaming was that players were not being evenly matched, rookies were often paired with experts meaning neither of them had a satisfying gaming experience, the beginners were shot to pieces by the more experienced players, who themselves were not given enough of a challenge. This skill chasm lead to games producers pioneering a experience system whereby as players progressed through the online ranks, full-filling certain requirements (such as getting a specific number of kills in a game) which gave them an ever increasing experience score and access to new goodies such as guns and vehicles. This score stays with the player meaning that they are matched up with similarly skilled individuals in future games.

As with most things these days, some have found a way round this system and deem it necessary to cheat. It emerged in the national news yesterday that players of Red Dead Redemption on Xbox Live, a game set in the Wild West by Rockstar purveyors of the famous GTA series, is the subject of a row over a cheat that has been found to increase players experience points, earning them better weapons and horses. This has lead to an unprecedented step from Rockstar who have taken action to ban gamers from any online endeavors if they are found to be cheating. This is a clear message to those taking shortcuts that this type of online behavior will not be tolerated and highlights that fair play in online gaming is taken seriously by developers, publishers and providers of the Live service.

Do you play online games? Is there a ‘netiquette’ that you obey? Do you think online gaming has reached a point where it should be regulated by an independent body ?

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