How to Cheat at Video Games

Online Video Game Cheating

Cheating against a computer is pretty harmless but what about cheating against other people? Online games are very popular and have a wide audience. Some of the people in that audience are cheaters. But how do you cheat online?

Some cheaters use hacks and codes similar to game trainers. A fairly common manifestation of this is an auto-aim hack. An auto-aim hack is an application that helps players aim at opponents in first-person shooters. You might not be able to hit the broad side of a virtual barn on your own but with auto-aim you can be a crack shot.

Another tactic is to create scripts of commands called macros to automate tedious tasks. Some online games -- primarily massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) -- allow players to improve character skills by performing certain tasks repeatedly. A player skilled at creating macros might be able to create an automated looping routine for his or her character. It's considered cheating because the game developers intended players to build character skills organically by playing the game instead of setting up an automatic schedule.

Some players try to avoid the time and effort required to build up a character by paying someone else to do it for them. They farm their character out to someone else who plays the game normally, building up that character's stats and abilities. Once the character reaches a certain level, the player resumes control.

Several online games allow players to trade weapons and other objects. Many have an in-game economy that supports exchanges within the game itself. But some people have taken the practice out of the game, selling virtual objects for real money on sites like eBay. While this isn't as big a problem as it was when MMORPGs first debuted, you can still find people trying to sell video game objects for real cash if you look hard enough.

Most online games have administrators who have a very low tolerance for cheaters. Others rely on the community of players as a whole to police the game and report instances of cheating. Either way, if you cheat online you risk getting suspended or banned from the game.

In some instances, cheating doesn't have to be a bad thing. It can keep you engaged in a game when you might otherwise have given up. It can also give you a new reason to play an old game, increasing the return on your investment. But keep in mind while the computer doesn't care if you cheat, real people may not feel the same way.

Want to learn more about video games? Take a look at the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • Adelson, Andrea. "Cheating is Just Another Part of the Game." New York Times. Nov. 26, 1989. (Feb. 25, 2009)
  • Consalvo, Mia. "Cheating." The MIT Press. Cambridge, MA. 2007.
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  • Halter, Ed. "No Fair!" Games for Windows. September 2007. (Feb. 26, 2009)
  • Kimppa, K. K. and Bissett, A. K. "The Ethical Significance of Cheating in Online Computer Games." International Review of Information Ethics. Vol 4, Dec. 2, 2005. (Feb. 26, 2009).
  • O'Brien, Luke. "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, B, A." Slate. Aug. 10, 2007. (Feb 25, 2009)