Friday, 29 January 2010

The ethics and morality of cheating

Right, so by now everyone has heard about the cheating problem that went down at the 2010 Indy GT Circuit: Seattle. I am not going to go into that as it has been widely posted.

What I am going to talk about is the ethical and moral aspects of cheating and how different people perceive it to be.

Wikipedia throws up this very good definition of cheating.

“Cheating is an act of lying, deception, fraud, trickery, imposture, or imposition. Cheating characteristically is employed to create an unfair advantage, usually in one's own interest, and often at the expense of others.”

The whole issue of cheating came up on a topic over at the B&C and it was interesting to see how people basically broke down into 2 camps. While all agreed that Nathaniel is an idiot who deserved everything he got, some seemed to think that he was an idiot because of the act of cheating while others thought he was an idiot because he was stupid enough to get caught.

Now before I go on let me state that I am very much a member of the former category. I loath anyone who intentionally cheats and this post will be biased to that viewpoint and I apologize if it seems like I am sermonizing.

The people who considered him stupid for getting caught had a few arguments to justify why they seemed to condone cheating. Some players seemed to come from a cultural background where cheating is a part of every day life. Some folk maintained that if you are playing in tournaments for money and prizes and that forms part of your income then you are justified in trying to maximize your returns on investments. Some people even used the whole “if no one knows you are cheating then it isn’t hurting anyone”. One person even went so far as to recount a tale from his army days where cheating was used as a test to see who could “think outside the box” Another one was “if no one catches you then you weren’t actually cheating”

Looking at the above reasoning the only one I could ever possibly forgive is the cultural one. If that’s how you have been brought up and don’t know any better then its understandable that you would go into a tournament with a cheating mindset. But its only forgivable once. Once its been explained to you why cheating in the game is wrong then you have no excuse.

To the professional players who use tournaments as a form of income, well all I can say is that if you choose that as your profession you should be good enough not to have to cheat.

“Thinking outside the box”…well we have a name for that. It’s called “Rules Lawyering” The box you are trying to think outside of is there for a reason and is structured around a rule set. Trying to manipulate that for your own gain is just wrong in my book.

Now, as to the “if no one knows you are cheating then it isn’t hurting anyone” brigade all I have to say is this. You are just plain 100% wrong. A: Because people generally realize later on that they have been cheated. They go back and check their rule books, talk to their friends and sit and analyse the game seeing where they went wrong. And B: Because even if they don’t figure it out, you have stolen an experience from them. People paint up their armies and travel sometimes 1000’s of km to play our game and if they loose out because they happened to play a cheat then they are loosing out on the fun and excitement of the game and that is just wrong.

I know of people who have left the hobby because of experiences like that. I know people who will never go to a tournament again because of bad experiences with cheaters. This costs the hobby as a whole and by doing that it costs the cheaters themselves in the long run.

“If no one catches you then you aren’t actually cheating”…ummmmm. No, A thousand times NO. Whether or not you are caught, you are still a cheater. As I put it on the forum. If you drug and rape someone and they never realize due to the drugs, does that make them any less violated? No, they have still been violated and you are still a rapist.

Ultimately though, cheating is a betrayal of trust. We go into each game with an unspoken contract that we will play honestly and within the rules. Betray that trust too often and the game will become unplayable. And also think of this. Someone who is cheated against will come away with nothing from the game, he will have learned nothing except for the bitter taste of an unwarrented defeat.

In conclusion all I can say is that cheating is wrong, just plain wrong. There can be no justification for it, especially not in warhammer or any other voluntary hobby and even more especially if you have been caught and warned before. You are not going to die or starve if you don’t win and it is ultimately to the detriment of the hobby to do so. You choose to play the game and you should play it honour and honesty. I know that I personally would gain no enjoyment from a game if I won it via questionable means. I like to win because of my skill and knowledge.

And as for Nathanial, well his minis should be confiscated and he should be beaten with a rattan cane until the knowledge of what he has done wrong sinks into his head.

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