It’s hard to exploit a sport that requires both the body and the mind.  Athletes try steroids and rig the game, but hopefully, and I can’t verify this, the officials on the inside find and prevent further use and even expel them from their respected sports with justice.  A video game is a bit trickier.  You can call playing the Wii using your mind and body to play a game, but for the X-box 360 and games like Gears of War, or Halo, or any competitive action shooter, all of the skill the player possesses is in the fingertips and head of the player.  Hence, it’s not very rare to characterize the best gamer with being in the worst shape.

There are huge differences between Football and Call of Duty, obviously.  The audience for Football sits passively on the couch living in the moment on screen.  CoD is different in that the audience for the game participates in the content.  Apart from not using the body, the gamer uses an incredibly rich repertoire of strategies and skills in their mind within the context of the game causing a huge separation between the best and the worst, much like any other sport.  But, where it’s more difficult to exploit a physical sport, it’s very easy to exploit a virtual one.

Look at Gears of War.  A game pumped up by it’s religious following and dedication to a gritty, blocky, world of grey and blood created by Cliff Blezinski and touted for it’s awesome multi-player, a mode the developers didn’t even think to spend a boat load of time on for the first installment, is the perfect example of exploitation.  Initially, the online world for GoW was new and fresh and everyone was trying to use the skills they’d learned while playing through the campaign in an online mode of a few maps and game types.  But, as the community grew to encompass more people, it also allowed itself to become exploited to the extent that I can’t even turn the game on and have any desire to play it.

People always act like the things that take place in a video game don’t have anything to do with real life events and don’t do anything but make gamers zombies hungry for virtual blood.  Contrarily, a few months into my dedicated run with GoW, I began to lose my drive to play and compete with like-minded individuals and it thoroughly affected my motivation to play any shooter.  Whenever the gamer feels cheated, they honestly feel cheated.  They aren’t hiding their emotion because they’re afraid of becoming embarrassed nor are they living in a dream world where they don’t understand the definition of the word cheated.  I feel the same amount of pain when someone molests a game I enjoy as much as I feel the same amount of pain when someone cuts my change short or has me pick up the tab without knowing it.

The exploitation in GoW goes like this:  4v4, primary weapon Lancer, secondary weapon Shotgun.  Four players spawn and everyone sprints for the best weapons on the map, or the best place to find combat.  One (or all four) player(s) on one team decides that a more effective way to battle their opponents is to hold A, sprint across the map, and run directly into the enemy while they post up on walls and try to strategize.  The enemy, unknowingly because in a real battle no ballsy individual is going to run through an open battlefield with their head down and legitimately expect to survive, is immediately blasted into pieces with the quick flick of the right trigger from the sprinting player and then they repeat the same formula.  Sprint directly at them, R-trigger, sprint towards the next enemy.  Repeat.  It sets the match up so that no matter what weapon you use, you won’t be able to do anything good unless you use the same strategy or if you and your team use explosives and play from a bunker.

Why is this exploitation?  If you can’t tell from my description, the player is using a move in the game but taking the move out of context and bastardizing it so that they achieve the most amount of kills next to their name so that they can win.  They aren’t playing to have fun, they are playing to win.  These same people are the people who never swallow their pride and accept that someone has gotten the best of them.  They look for an out so that they can never accept defeat, but these people live in a fictional world where they get everything they want or everything they can out of something without considering any other option other than self gain.  The fact that this exists within the context of a video game means that it probably transcends into the gamers actual life.  The factors that contribute to this could be many, but the overall point is that physiological habits exhibit themselves through video games which help illuminate the type of player playing the game, as well as how a virtual world can be taken advantage of.  These same people are everywhere, and with video games, they are destroying communities that could flourish as a form of entertainment, communication, and expression.

These issues should be fixed by the development team within the lifespan of the game.  X-box live is a treat for any developer dealing with exploitation and complaints from its community.  However, with GoW 2, I still find the same amount of exploitation.  Not to say that the gamer using a bulldog shotgun technique is necessarily a bad thing, it becomes exploitation when the most effective combat move has a tough time being pulled off due to the utilization of one technique over and over by an enemy player.  It eliminates strategy, and forces gamers to refrain from public games due to the simple yet effective tactics on repeat.  It’s like listening to the Jonas Brothers.  Simple, yet effective.  Exploitation.  Should something like this be perpetuated?

Argument for yes:  Money.  Make a game where people will buy it without looking at anything else and it prints money.  Argument for no:  Considering video games are an outlet of self expression and represent the thought patterns of the gamer, taking advantage of a seemingly untouchable medium fragments the population of people playing the game from those who A.) Fight fire with fire or B.) Only play when they know who they’re playing with or C.) Stop playing completely due to many other games that have eradicated this problem or D.) Abandon video games and focus on more productive hobbies like model airplane construction.

If we can notice the differences between a game printed for money and a game printed for something else, gamers can hopefully take control of their content by opting not to buy a game with a history of exploitation without evolution.  They can instead buy games made for gamers, by gamers.  People who understand that balance and fairness are key to propelling a competitive video game into greatness are the development teams worth keeping an eye out for.  The money will follow if the product can prove itself as balanced and fair.  You probably aren’t surprised that I only play one First-person shooter on a regular basis.  But I’m not an exception to the rule; I find the game I like and the game that doesn’t have problems like blatant exploitation, and put money and energy into it, like everyone should.  Examples:  Call of Duty, (1,2,MW, MW2), Blizzard (WC,SC,WoW,Diablo).

About The Author

Roger Gude is a Blast Magazine correspondent

2 Responses

  1. Isaac Preston ;)

    I think you’ve just been killed one too many times. sure, no one likes losing, but conversely, most like winning. It’s fun to win, and when someone plays to win, they play for fun. At least that’s what I got out of it.

    • Roger

      I agree, winning is fun. But what’s more important is enjoying the game, and if I can’t do that, what’s the point in winning?


Leave a Reply