Cheating in Games and in School

Karla R. Hamlen, “Negotiating Students’ Conceptions of ‘Cheating’ in Video Games and in School”

Reviewed by: Michael Weldon

Technology use, and video game play in particular, occupies a large amount of time in a typical teenager’s life. Methods of learning and playing video games differ from that of traditional learning settings in that it is common to collaborate and use alternative methods known as “cheats” in the gaming world, strategies that might be considered unethical in the traditional classroom setting. This study actually took 3 high school, male, students and had them describe their experiences in gaming and in school, and their views of ethics, honesty, and acceptable forms of information gathering in the two contexts. It went on to discuss definitions such as: glitching, cheats, walkthroughs and a market in which the students were able to share cheats so that others online may use those cheats to boost their character or the virtual world around them.

What constitutes cheating in a video game is still an emerging issue with widely varying opinions on the matter. With such diverse possibilities, it becomes difficult to define cheating within this realm. Most people would probably say that cheating is breaking the rules. Paying someone else to level your character or to give you gold for RL [real life] money is currently viewed as “unfair.” … So if using RL resources to get ahead is cheating, what about people who are rich with time? After all, the principal mechanic for MMO progression is time spent playing the game. Aren’t people with enormous amounts of free time using their RL resources to gain an unfair advantage of those who have limited play time? Where is the line between cheating and working within the game rules to get the most out of your game time?

The article eventually moved towards a conclusion that for some people cheating in games can bleed into cheating in real life schooling, but for others they can clearly see the ethical/moral line and are able to leave all that happens at home, at home and not follow them to school. All in all I found the article very informative and incredibly accurate. As someone who has a younger brother in high school, who games all the time, I see the skating of the ethical/moral every time that I go home for a visit as my brother is desperately trying to finish a project and level up at the same time.