MMOs and their Hackers - Symbiosis or Parasitism?
Switch on the launcher, start the game, log in, get started! That's how a usual beginning of a more or less long trip into another world looks like. As a rookie at the beginning of the game the player often feels a bit lost in this usually unexpected large virtual dimension and before even thinking of breaking the rules of the game the player first has to explore them and the limits. Having this phase behind oneself and after deciding to occupy oneself with the game long-term the player sets oneself a goal for it. If it's achieving the maximum level, the best skills or other goals varies from game to game. At the beginning the player tries to achieve that goal obeying the rules just like the creators of the game meant to but after an undefined amount of time and after he has gotten along with the gamingscene he discovers a way of bypassing the rules by using game-external applications which alleviate and speed up gaming progress. Everyone of us has this inner instinct, there are some who can resist the temptation and there are some who can't. Readers of this article most likely belong to that second group. However, the applications mentioned above, called "Hacks", "Bots", "Exploits" or "Tools" (I'll sum it up as "hacks" here) in gaming-jargon, can be found in any kind of MMO and are usually free to use or cost only few. Here I try to exemplify the relation between Hacks and MMOs as well as the impact on the game and the players.
MMO-Fans know the everlasting conflict between legit players and hack-users. Legits feel disturbed by the constant presence of people breaking the rules and feel disadvantaged because of that. That results in the antipathy towards hack-users as well as towards the gamecompany which has the duty to stop the rulebreakers. In return hack-users insist on the argument that if you follow the rules you are forced to make a decision between RL (Real Life) and the ultimate goal of the game (generally to become the most successful player) since as a player you can't have both. Here we see the first difficulty . This conflict in which both parties have justified arguments creates a displeasing game atmosphere and a triangular dispute between legits, hackers and the gamecompany. An eternal dispute and until now there has been no solution since hackers or rather freelancing programmers are often at least as talented as the gameprogrammers and so the company very rarely manages to dispose those tools even with the help of external companies (see GameGuard).
Regarding this it is definitely worth thinking about creating an advantage or compromise for all sides. But then again the gamecompanies see their advantage for themselves in hack-users since it is often a well-known fact that people who occupy themselves that intensive with the game, most likely invest a lot of money into it. So if the companies lead a "war" against this group they risk to ruin themselves which has a negative effect on every side. The role the gamecompanies have to play is of enormous importance. They have to move between the fronts in order to keep as many people as possible playing the game. That means to the outside a company has to seem battling the rulebreakers with bans or the likes to keep the legits calm. On the other hand it would be a grave mistake to scare off hackers.That's an aspect only very few players keep in mind and that leads to a lack of acceptance and understanding on both sides. Sure hackers could think about not exaggerating in breaking the rules and legits could think about not being that offensive towards hackers but that won't happen so it is important to get along with the current situation.
To get back to the original question I want to point out that the hackingscene and the gamecompanies form a symbiosis as well as a form of parasitism. Crucial is the appearence to the outside. On the one hand hackers are a bothersome part of the game for the legits and the company. On the other hand the company and the game depend on that part.