I wrote this essay quite a while ago when aimbots were first introduced in Quake 2. I never really "published it" because it illustrates a Catch 22 I can't really bitch about people breaking stories about available cheats without actually doing so in the process. I fear it is a bit late to save our current game of choice, so all of this should be said now so maybe it won't happen to the next game that catches our fancy.
Something I've been ranting about since the first time I saw a cheat in Interstate '76 (anyone remember that game?): The discovery of a cheat, exploit or hack that allows players to either disrupt regular play, ignore the normal rules of play, or worst case, "stealth cheat", prompts various news sites to "break the story" and unleash paranoia and anarchy throughout the gaming community.
There are two reasons why a news site would post ANY news about the fact that it's possible to cheat, how to cheat, or where to get a file that allows you to cheat. The first, and most readily used by the newsies in question, is the belief that "by getting this information out to the public, it will force the game developer of the game in question to come up with a way to combat the problem, and then there will be no more cheating."
There are some huge holes in this logic. For one, what if that game developer has already moved on to his or her next project and no longer employs anyone that will try to make a cheat/hack/exploit impossible to use? For another, what happens to regular play of this particular game UNTIL a developer has a solution?
The first thing that happens upon the public finding out about the ability to cheat in some way is that an amount of people go to their favorite search engines and type in "[game name] cheat" and see if they can find out what the news site was "scooping". If they don't find it there, they'll just go to a number of choice IRC channels and look for it there until they do. Once they find it, they will most likely want to try it. An amount of individuals will even want to use it against other players on public servers "just to see it work". Once they see it work, they'll want to be "cool guys" and run and tell all their online friends about it and even give them a link to it so that their FRIENDS can try it or better yet, just DCC or attach it to an email to them.
The interim period of a game that has this happen to it is RUINED until a developer takes action, and that goes right back to the first problem with forcing the hand of game developers maybe there isn't anyone around to TAKE action anymore.
The second reason newsies would "break" a story like this to the public is somewhat underhanded and selfish: they don't actually PLAY the game in question on a normal basis (if at all), and don't particularly care about the people who do. Take for example a fictional multiplayer game that is quite popular that I'll call "Team Capture the Rocket Launcher" where the most important thing in the game is to keep the other players from getting a rocket launcher (a stretch of the imagination, I know).
If a particular newsie was relatively well known to be a "hardcore" in "TCTR" one must ask ones self, do they REALLY think that they would break a story telling about a new hack that is available that lets you just HAVE a rocket launcher? Of course he wouldn't. He plays TCTR for about 5 hours a day sometimes do you think he wants to wait the above mentioned "interim period" for the makers of TCTR to patch their game so no one can use it? Of course he doesn't..
So long as the newsie in question doesn't care about the people who regularly play the game in question, any news on how to RUIN it is apparently fair game for all the cheating news you can handle.
Gaming newsies need to think about this before the next time they post information about the use of cheating in multiplayer online games especially if they don't play the game in question themselves. They may be getting lots of hits to their websites because they have lots of "scoops" about such things, but in the long run, they are just ruining our fun, one game at a time.
As I mentioned previously, I never sent this out because it seemed hypocritical in that I myself played Quake 5+ hours a day at the time. Now I don't. In fact, I've all but uninstalled Quake 3: Arena from my system and NO, I didn't convert to Counter-Camp.
I only speak out now because I think that the final paragraph in my essay holds truer now than ever: Gaming news sites (and anyone else for that matter) need to STOP raising awareness of cheats and exploits to the public. Is this censorship? Not at all it's called self-restraint, and I can say pretty confidently that we could all use a large dose of it.