Posted by: codecalla | December 31, 2012


As a casual gamer, who loves RPGs (role playing games), among many other genres, one of the things that I find incredibly amusing is that there is so much time and devotion to figuring out cheat codes or ways to rework the game to the player’s advantage.  While at first, cheats may seem desirable, for me, they devalue the experience.  For example, if a game requires that you build money up before buying a piece of equipment or desirable house, and you have an endless money cheat, the value of the item dissipates.  I love earning that accomplishment.  I like the idea that the digital fruits of my labor (and it can be labor) have borne fruit.  When I am tempted (and those cheats are tempting), I find that my satisfaction dwindles to nothing, and I lose enjoyment in the accomplishments.  Instead of proof of my fortitude and ingenuity, it is proof of my laziness.

To be fair, not all cheats or cheat codes are bad.  There are some amazing modifications that can enhance the enjoyment of the game.  Mods can satisfy certain play styles, and do so in an engaging way.  The players who discover and work out these cheat codes are pretty amazing.  Whether it is console games or PC based, there are many variations.  It seems like the choice of figuring out how to cheat creates more hard work, at least for those who are putting the commands together.

Writing correlates to the idea of cheating in that we are constantly driven to meet standards, deadlines, and content; sometimes people get desperate and look for short cuts.  Perhaps not all of the short cuts are bad, there can be something learned from every writing experience (at least if it’s something that they have personally written).  I find the ambiguity in our nature to cross reference things that we experience, to communicate with others who have shared that experience, and our desire to build upon the worlds (and words) of others, is akin to the code seekers for video games.  Break it down and find the point of manipulation, enhance the experience.  Perhaps the attention to plagiarism and copyright will come back to haunt us in limiting imagination and discussion about ideas.  Is it wrong to build on the worlds or ideas of others, when we as a culture have been doing it since the beginning of time?  Can we litigate and legislate against human nature in this fashion?  *I should add, that copyright laws fluster me, so there is much that I must learn about the recent changes.  The advent of digital copies of works creates further discussion.*

The grey area is in writers like T.S. Eliot or Shakespeare, who blatantly took lines they liked from other works for audiences who (mostly or most likely) knew the cultural references.  I’m sure there is a great deal of argument against this claim, but the idea of cross referencing and adapting text or ideas to create new ones can probably be found in The Iliad and The Odyssey.   I wonder if the legality of idea sharing, using, and manipulation is going to infringe upon the basic imaginative right to create or re-create?  Weaving texts from our experiences, both personal and via popular culture is a mainstay.   Perhaps the adaptations and new variations can restore interest in the original works, to create a conversation about how we have progressed in our world views.

(Although I do admit, even I abhor the idea of introducing zombies to Jane Austen, especially as I love her works in their original form.)

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