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Stop Cheating!04:25 PM -- Mon March 23, 2009

Don't cheat. Not ever, at anything. I suppose that's obvious, but apparently not obvious enough, judging by what I've been dealing with here at Hamumu lately. Let me explain some of the many many downsides of cheating. No wait, let me list the upsides:

1. You get to be in the lead without having the necessary skill or luck.

Now downsides:

1. Shortly after you get that lead, it's stripped from you, along with whatever legitimate gains you had in the first place, because you get caught. In other words, the very reason you did it is gone, so you gained absolutely nothing, and actually ended up losing stuff.

2. You're embarrassed and feel horrible.

3. All the other players are annoyed that you messed up the game for them.

4. People stop playing the game, feeling that they have no chance, and so the game becomes less fun for you as it loses players.

5. You get punished in addition to the loss of gains. Most likely, you get kicked out of the game you cheated in, so you can't even play it legitimately anymore.

6. The person running the game stops trusting you, and looks at you in a bad light from then on. There's no recovering from the stigma of "cheater". And you won't be getting the benefit of the doubt again!

7. Now here's something you probably never even considered... I just spent an hour this morning, that I intended to spend messing around with my flash word search game, modifying my website and hacking various databases to undo the latest cheating, punish the cheater, and prevent future outbreaks of same (I could've spent easily another 40 hours if I were really trying to robustly lock it down from future cheating, which is what I would have to do if it were happening a lot). Short version: Cheating takes time away from game development!

If we lived in a world where we knew nobody would ever cheat at anything... games would take about half as long to develop (forget DRM and piracy protections too! That's also cheating, so in our perfect world, no problem!), "demos" would be full versions that say "Hey, pay me $20 when you're ready to!", and every game would have online score systems and there would be 10x as many online games. It's cheat prevention that makes online gaming tough (well, it's one of the major challenges anyway - definitely one of the biggest I'm facing in designing this turn-based game, where lag is not an issue), and cheating has literally destroyed more than one online game completely.

Here's your takeaway from this: Cheating won't benefit you in the short or long term. You will get caught, and when you do, the penalties will be severe enough to completely outweigh any potential gain you might have had. Cheating also hurts the company whose game you cheated on, making it harder for them to make games, and making them take time out of it to battle you. That hurts you, in case you didn't notice! There is no positive here, only pain and misery spread to all around.

And hey, I get that there's a thrill from 'beating the system'. You're just going to have to live without that thrill, because getting it will, shortly after, deprive you of all the other thrills the game has to offer. And replace the first thrill with shame and guilt.

Man, just do a little cost-benefit analysis... you really need 10YB (that's equal to TEN CENTS. A DIME!) so badly that you want to cheat and risk losing all your Yerfbucks, and the ability to play the game, and possibly your ability to even be a part of the Hamumu community, on the slim chance that you'll get away with your cheating? Odds are extremely high that you'll be caught, so even a large potential upside (cheating at $1000/hand poker) would not be a smart choice (5% chance of getting away with $100,000 versus 95% chance of being beaten to death by bouncers... hmmm). And you're doing it for 10 cents? Math:

2% chance of 10 cent gain < 98% chance of being banned from the game and losing all yerfbucks

You make the call.
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