Xbox controller with TV.

It was always frustrating playing my one of my friends in Sega hockey as kids. During every possession, he would simply dart directly toward the net and score an easy breakaway goal, whereas I would try to set up an elaborate play, finding those goals much more satisfying.

Today, he works in business (having purposely eschewed the arts for a more logical path), and I’m an idiot writer. The correlation is painfully obvious.

What it Means to Play Cheaply

Every video game has the perceived cheap manner of playing, the overt way to take advantage of the game’s basic programming. In hockey video games this meant always doing the one-timer, in football using the best team or playing with Tecmo Bo Jackson, and in basketball games always dunking or shooting from that one spot where the ball never seems to miss.

So that pixelated player, no matter how bad his rating, will probably score. Even when he enters the game’s locker room the other players taunt him.

“You know you only scored because of the awful code, right?”
“Whatever,” he says, concealing a single tear.

Maybe you only use sniper rifles and hide on a hill in first-person shooters, or always go for the best weapons and spells in role-playing games. Whatever the genre, you are the designated cheap player, the one that causes your friends to shake their heads in constant disappointment.

In the same way that board game nights always feature the one person who takes it a little too seriously, video game gatherings have the one player who is always more interested in winning than everything else, like having fun, for instance.

Where Are They Now?

How this carries them through life always remains to be seen. But when you notice them playing that way, you seem to keep a distance, as if they’re the type of person who would kill and eat you on a deserted island. That’s also how I look at anyone who eats the last piece of bacon at breakfast.

Being a cheap video game player doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad person, just that you typically have an eye out for any loopholes, and sometimes aren’t the type to take the scenic route through life.

Perhaps it’s best to find a middle ground. Because the emphasis on constantly going for the original play may lead to an inability to score a simple goal or get a point or land a kill when you need one in the game. Winning is, after all, part of the point. You take too scenic of a route through life and you’ll never get anywhere.

What I’m trying to say is that I could kill my friend at that game today. There’s ultimately no shame in both being a little cheap and a tad creative here and there while playing video games.

Just be thankful that neither of you are the button masher. That guy’s probably in prison now.

Profile Photo for Chason Gordon Chason Gordon
Chason Gordon is a former staff writer and editor for How-To Geek. His writing has previously appeared in Slate, Vice, Input, and The Globe and Mail, among other publications.
Read Full Bio »