Sunday, August 4, 2013

Urban's Complaint: Hacking in Online Games

Last night a few Geezers got together to play Red Dead Redemption and some of the expansions. I played this game for a year and half and even created project based learning templates around Red Dead Redemption and the American West. (Skip to next section if you don't care about teaching materials)

When I was teaching my students loved the connections we made to popular culture. Red Dead appeared the summer before I was about to teach American Literature to a bunch of 11th graders. (I'd be happy to send anyone interested in teaching sample project based files that are fully developed for use in a history or literature classroom. Send me an e-mail.) It is safe to say that I loved this game.

My problem was that when the game came out I didn't have a community to explore the online component. Over time I couldn't stand being bullied and cursed at by teens that I put the game aside after I milked every ounce out of the story and achievements.

Cheaters and Hackers

After a week of organizing and scheduling, a handful of Geezers embarked on a back to the past adventure tour of Red Dead Redemption's multiplayer. We quickly explored the shootouts, undead sieges, but when we tried to go into free roam we hit a wall that ruined the game.

We attempted to engage in battles against other groups but other players seemingly zipped across the map, disappeared, and then we were killed by invisible forces. A high pitched voice told us that the game had been hacked and was affecting game play for everyone (unconfirmed).

Regardless if this was due to hackers or poor server maintenance, the word hacker ruined the game night for a group of regular working class stiffs. The thing is that this isn't the first time our group has run into hackers in a game.

Last year I ventured to PC gaming after upgrading from a 10 year system. The lack of money kept me a console gamer happily where lack of community allowed me to avoid PVP and multiplayer games. In a way, I lived in the ignorant bliss of single-player.

Now almost every multiplayer online game has been ruined by cheaters. I mean, I understand why hackers create hacks. Here is an article discussing online security and hacking. It details the financial motivation to creating hacks.

In One Shot, One Kill, No Skill , a cheater, named John, explains why he feels the need to cheat. He says,

""Technically hacking does ruin games," John recently told me. "I do feel bad for doing it, ‘cause I know regular legit gamers—which I once was—just want to have fun and play the game with their friends. I basically go into servers and hack, because it's like releasing anger with my job. "

I'm not an expert at the law but something deep down inside tells me that there is something wrong in what their doing. I can't believe that hacking in someone else's software isn't illegal and thereby prosecutable by the law and by extension the use of hacks, that ruins the experience of people, should also be illegal.

From what I've seen, cheaters get banned. They buy another account and keep coming back. Really?

Our experience with the coop element of gaming seems to be the only aspect of online gaming that hasn't been completely marred from hacking and cheaters. I guess this is why I promote coop based games and stay away from PVP type games.

Since we're at the end of the life cycle of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, we're planning a bargain bin tour of older multiplayer games to explore together. I'd encourage your participation. It is sad that as of the time of this writing, I have only 6 people listed on my xbox 360 friend's list.

If' you're interesting in joining our rotation game tour on the PC, Xbox, or PS3 visit our site or add me to your steam, PS3, and xbox 360. My screen name is theurbanwatcher on all of those systems.

As for the hackers and cheaters, they will be around as long as they are allowed to operate and will continue to spend money to cheat. I'm happy to say while I may get angry when I encounter cheaters it happens infrequently.

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