Feb 20

What Kinds of Cheaters Prosper?

Taking a closer look at players, players, and players.

Background: You find yourself in the arms of a man/woman who is not your significant other (single people just pretend, it’ll be fun!). But it’s (A) totally cool, because by “you” I mean your online avatar that has absolutely no value in the real world, (B) questionably okay, because that man/woman is shooting steroids in your butt so you can win yet another championship for your fans who will most likely never know about it anyway, or (C) totally wrong because you have a husband/wife at home waiting up for you! The old saying goes that cheaters never prosper. But one could argue that 2/3′s of the time cheaters absolutely prosper. And if that’s the case, maybe we should take a closer look at cheating..

As the scenario demonstrates, there are three types of cheaters: Players, players, and players. Player 1 is a gamer who cheats with codes, hacks, or walkthroughs. The second player is an athlete who dopes his/her blood, injects or ingests performance enhancing drugs into his/her body, or manipulates elements of the contest below the radar of the officials. The final player operates outside the bounds of a monogamous marriage or relationship by seeing or sleeping with another man/woman. And even though they are all players, society scrutinizes each type of player very differently. This seems strange to no one except to a young child. Granted, most children don’t really grasp the concept of the third player so early in life.

I’d like to think there’s a world where cheating is grounded in an objective reality that is governed by a natural law with axiomatic ethical principles. That’s the world in which human children seem to exist. Make them go to bed early? That’s not fair! Why isn’t it fair? Why isn’t the sky sparkly-purple? There’s no logic in the answer that they give because to them it just is (or isn’t). Have you ever been accused of cheating by an 8 year old? It sounds like you murdered somebody. You’re a cheater! You cheated! (And I’m telling on you!) That’s because to a little kid it’s all the same thing. Cheating, murder, arson, butting in line–it’s all wrong. Which means it isn’t right. And that’s the end of the conversation.

As we grow up though, the lines of right and wrong start to blur. People start throwing concepts like “entertainment value” into the equation and now we’re playing a whole new ballgame. Entire websites are dedicated to providing gamers with the latest cheat codes because it makes the game more fun. And you know who complains or cares that you cheated in a video game? Nobody T. Jones. It’s just pure entertainment. With sports it gets a little trickier. People don’t really mind cheating while it’s happening as long as they don’t catch you in the act. However, if they find out you cheated at some point in the future you’re boned. Why? Because people care or pretend to care about the “integrity of the game,” but also desperately need to see a great show. Major League Baseball and Lance Armstrong were a ton of fun to watch in the late 90′s and 00′s…but now we know that the show was fixed so it’s time to throw on our judge’s robes and “do the right thing.” Adulterers are the worst types of cheaters who are heavily scrutinized by everyone…except themselves. Why? Because it isn’t entertaining to see somebody get hurt (if you know them), or to be hurt by somebody. But it’s extremely entertaining to spice up a boring love-life.

Conclusion: We have to redefine our paradigms people. The 21st century has given us highly advanced technology, giant corporations, and a total lack of privacy. It’s NOT cheaters never prosper. It’s bad entertainers never prosper. See, you can be a cheater and make millions, or win another round of Call of Duty, whatever. Point is, you can do it as long as the show is good enough. Did you know there is actually a television show called “Cheaters”?! How much more literal can I be, readers? And that world of right and wrong that you and I both knew as kids, the one that our kids still hold on to, is slipping away from us. I’m sad to say that I don’t know how to get it back or how to bring adults into that world. I mean, I’ve already flagged the users and sent a lengthy complaint to the moderators. But dammit I do know that we can’t let prosperity define our cheaters anymore. Somebody’s doing something wrong!