Cheating: Then and Now

checkers

I still remember the first time I experienced cheating. I was in kindergarten and playing a dinosaur-themed version of checkers with a classmate named Braden. The game started out well enough; we moved our checker pieces- delightfully modeled as rubber T-Rexes- across the iconic grid, each space colored to look like rock and lava. This was back when dinosaurs and the floor being made of lava were the two coolest things that a young boy could ask for.

Then it happened.

Braden declares his T-Rex is going to do a quadruple front-flip (or “super-mega flip” as Braden called it) across the board and land on an empty space on my edge of the board, conveniently becoming a King piece in the process.

Gullible as I am, my five year-old mind knew that bull$@%! was afoot. I tried to dispute the maneuver, but Braden simply declared that those were the rules. Of course when I attempted a similar “super-mega flip”, Braden declared that I was not allowed to do that.

Not wishing for blood to be spilled over a game of checkers, I reluctantly finished the game, taking my loss in stride and avoided playing Checkers- or with Braden- ever again. I was always a Chess guy anyways.

A pleasant aspect of board games is that it is really not worth it to cheat. Cheating is typically easy to notice and has immediate and immense repercussions. You are one card falling from your sleeve away from souring friendships and alienating yourself from your gaming group. Unless big money is on the table (i.e. Poker tournaments), there is very little incentive to cheat in board games.

Growing up in the 90’s and 2000 period however, I was also an avid PC gamer during the renaissance of online shooters. Games such as Unreal Tournament, Battlefield, and Alien V.S Predator were staples of my childhood. As much as I love these games, the moment I stepped into the online realm, I encountered cheating on a level that made the super mega-flips of childhood checkers seem…well childish.

Cheating in online gaming commonly took the form of hacks, 3rd party programs that modified a player’s experience or avatar in their favor. Hacks took the form of automatic aiming, one-shot kills, and even flat-out invincibility. A player may have one or more of these hacks, ruining the game for all other players.

Sometimes, I would run across a hack that left me awestruck. One such incident happened during a match of Alien V.S Predator 2, when a player somehow managed to become invincible, invisible, move at twice the speed of other players and kill with a single strike of their spear, which they swung endlessly and was a tell-tale sign the hacker was near. On top of all that, the player found a way to duplicate himself, allowing to avatars to stalk zoom around the level, ripping the other players to shreds.

Moments like that made me walk away from the computer and go outside for some physical activity. I suppose I owe these hackers a thank you for having motivated me to start on the path to completing a marathon.

Marathon running is seeing the silver-lining in what is a tremendous problem with online gaming. The trouble with online games is that the anonymity and the fact that the group of players changes with each match, providing infinite opportunities for cheaters to have their fun implementing hacks, taunting other players, and being all-around dregs of humanity.

With board games, player groups are comparatively difficult to find and once labelled as a cheater, you will have trouble staying within these groups or maintaining friendships. Cheaters even risk confrontation because of their actions face-to-face with a man or woman potentially multiple times their size.

Today, cheating can still be found in both mediums. As long as rules exist for a game, there will be those that seek to bend or break them. As I spend more of my limited gaming time with friends as opposed to strangers, I encounter cheating less and less. Though I will never understand what motivates players to cheat, I do know that the less time I spend playing with anonymous stranger, the better my gaming experience will be, online or offline.

Advertisements

Gambling with Fate

As a slow reader, I lean on podcasts as my primary form of information consumption. News podcasts, History podcasts, Philosophy podcasts, Geek podcasts, anything and everything…though come to think of it those last few could all be geek related, but I digress.

The other day I was listening to the Tim Ferris Show, which focuses on productivity and excellence in a variety of fields (I can almost feel the eyes of the reader rolling as I type this). In this particular episode, the topic of negative visualization came up and was discussed at length.

For those of you unfamiliar with negative visualization, it is easiest to explain by first understanding Positive visualization. Positive visualization is imagining your goals coming true. For example, while I was training for a Marathon, I detailed out in my mind the moment of crossing the finish line. A mix of exuberance, exhaustion, and starvation that all fought for priority in my mind as I completed an athletic endeavour years in the making. I even imagined the tremendously portioned lunch I would eat after.

Negative visualization by contrast is imagining living without the benefits you currently enjoy. This helps to not only mentally fortify yourself against the loss of loved ones, good health, friends and all the other joys that we take for life. It also has the added benefit of making you capitalize on every moment that you hold them.

More than anything, negative visualization is what keeps me engaged from day to day. I have cheated death a couple of times in my life (both while on road trips interestingly enough) and I appreciate the moments of good health that I do have. I also appreciate the finite nature of what I have and am fully aware that every day you don’t pursue your goals, you gamble with fate over whether you will be able to again tomorrow.

Well that got dark fast and heavy rather fast. This weekend will be another silly story; maybe about wandering around Montreal!

Pursuing Happiness Concept #1: Brainwash Yourself

day1

Digital Design by Daniel Prairie

If you have no idea what is going on, I recommend that you read this post first.

As a child I struggled with depression throughout grade school. Sitting in the depths of self-pity, my mother would constantly repeat one piece of advice. “Just tell yourself that I you are happy”. At the time, I passed it off as parental indifference.

I could not have been more wrong.

The power of self-talk is tremendously powerful. Telling yourself over and over that you feel a certain way even when you do not is a very effective to alter your thinking. Repeat the message to yourself ten times a day and you will begin to believe it and alter how you feel.

When I have shared this advice in past, detractors were quick ask “how stupid do you think we are Trevor that we need to tell ourselves to be happy?”

To my critics my answer has always been: pretty stupid.

The brain is vulnerable to suggestion and the act of stating out loud your emotional state in the physical world adds far more weight to the emotion then simply letting thoughts bounce around in your head. This concept can applied towards other ways of course. If you wanted to feel depressed (though unless you are method acting or in a punk-rock band why would you), telling yourself that you feel depressed can make you depressed over time.

Applying the concept:

Tell yourself that you are feeling happy 10 times each day for the next week. It doesn’t have to be in front of others (though that could be a nice way to promote this blog), it just has to be done. Do it in the shower, when you are driving to work, do it whenever and wherever you can. Just keep doing it, no matter how terrible you feel.

Don’t stress out if you don’t experience an immediate mood change. Mood alteration won’t come instantly, but change will come about through repetition of this act. Just keep the message the same and soon you will find your mood has changed!