Earlier this week PCGamer and Polygon released articles about a Fortnite professional gamer being dropped from their team. In both articles, the writers covered that the man who created the software used to cheat the game was the person to turn the player in.
Player Johnathan Kosmala was released from Team Kaliber after being found cheating during the World Cup Qualifiers, whose finals has a prize pool of $30 million dollars and would take place in July of this year. Then yesterday news broke that Epic Games has banned more than 1,000 accounts for cheating during the qualifiers because the players were account sharing, circumventing region locks to play in multiple qualifier tracks, or using cheating software.
As a result of the frantic cheating within Fortnite, Epic Games released a new ‘Competitive Game Integrity‘ report which begins with the following statement:
Anyone found to be breaking the rules will be disqualified and penalized. Penalties may include a warning, a temporary competitive band (duration will be determined by Epic), removal from competitive play permanently, or a permanent ban from Fortnite. Penalties may be escalated if an account has received prior penalties in tournaments.
However, this Jaggy’s corner isn’t meant to go after specific players or teams because of cheating practices, it’s to talk about cheating in video gaming.
As a person that is part of a couple of tournament organizations, I can say that cheating is not limited to the game of Fortnite. Many competitive games have various mods or addons that provide certain advantages to the gameplay experience. I can recall a year and a half ago where a team was called into question among a tournament organization that I am part of. The admins had to make a decision about whether or not we should let the team play in our tournaments, especially since it was a community organization put on by an individual, and not by the game developers. Our team of admins engaged in a heated discussion, and ultimately we decided to ban the competitive team from play. It was a difficult decision to make and it was also an unprecedented decision due to the fact that the game developer hadn’t yet made a decision about the team until after we made our announcement.
A couple of things happened as a direct result of that decision. The tournaments started with a base prize pool and community members would donate to it, increasing the total amount. Normally this wasn’t a problem since fans of the professional gaming space like to support their favorite teams and players, but one person requested a refund for the $1000 they had contributed once our ban was made public. Yes, you read that right. The person asked for a refund because the team they voted for was no longer going to play. Take that for what you will.
The second thing that occurred after we made our decision was the polarizing beliefs that the community had about the tournament and the admin staff. It was brutal because people wanted that team to play since they believed them to be ‘the best’ when we knew that most of them were being paid to boost accounts and engaging in other cheats. And when I say most of them, I mean that one or two of the players had not been proven to cheat the game. The admin staff had discussed at length whether or not we should ban the team, because we knew that only some of the members were legitimately corrupt.
A number of questions arose from that specific instance: should tournament organizations penalize a whole team because of a couple of bad apples? (Haha, ZING! #nocontext) Do we assume that if a couple of members are cheating, the others must also be corrupted? How does a tournament organizer deal with instances of cheating in a world where screenshots can be doctored? (especially since some of the information we had came from Discord screenshots.) And is it necessary to wait on major decisions like it when the game developer hasn’t made their own ruling?
The idea that players are sometimes more outraged by the fact that their favorite teams/players are banned is more egregious than the fact that people are losing legitimate chances to win money based on their aptitude for a game, is ludicrous to me. But ‘professional players’ have done all sorts of things to win tournaments like taking Adderall to enhance reaction time and refine their focus. Because of increased drug use in gaming, most esport tournaments have implemented rules to prohibit players from using any performance enhancing drugs. Also, this issue has never been solely the issue of physical sports, so when it became an issue in professional gaming, tournament organizers weren’t necessarily surprised (I would think…)
The thing is, the onus isn’t just on the players using various methods of cheating, it should also be on those who create the programs that can exploit video games. Having programs that can tip the balance in favor of certain players is not fair, and it makes the gaming industry look worse than it already does to the general public. Also, it calls into question a person’s moral compass, the fact that certain people who create these programs don’t care about the integrity of people or of friendly and fair competition.
Frankly, I think the programmers who are known to distribute cheats should also be penalized for their actions. And in the case of Fortnite, the person who created and distributed the software was the one to bring the person to the attention of Epic Games, ultimately leading to their removal from a professional team and a ban from the tournament. Now, in my opinion, the creator of the cheat program gets a small free pass because told the World Cup organizers about ONE player. I say only a bit because personally, I don’t condone cheating in most circumstances and definitely don’t condone it in a tournament setting. However, I applaud the fact that the man was willing to bring someone to the attention of the admins. So there’s that.
Anyways, that’s just how I feel. The professional gaming space should continue to work on other ways to combat cheating, defrauding players, and promote good sportsmanship. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, but they are principles that can be improved upon.
Do you agree? What are your thoughts about competitive gaming and cheating?
Until next time.