Everybody who has ever played an online computer game knows the frustration of losing, but insult is added to injury when the loss is due to another player’s cheating. This is especially true in the world of Counter-Strike, the intense first-person shooter developed by Valve. With millions of gamers all over the world logging into plant bombs and rescue hostages, some players try to exercise an unfair advantage by modifying game codes to cheat. Others, however, are taking things into their own hands to stop them. Here’s a look at how the newest version of the game, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive takes on cheaters.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
Four games into the Counter-Strike franchise, Global Offensive was released on August 21st, 2012. It updated classic Counter-Strike content, such as the popular “Office” and “Dust” maps, but also featured new maps, character models, game modes, and weapons. Global Offensive met with mostly positive reviews from critics, who praised the attention to detail and more “polished” versions of familiar content.
However, cheaters have always blighted the Counter-Strike experience, as players use console commands to be able to see through walls, and aim at enemy players automatically, among other exploits to take the easy way to victory. In Global Offensive, Valve has let the gaming community strike back. In earlier versions of the game, responsibility for tackling cheaters lay with specially appointed moderators and administrators, but these players were not online all the time.
The Investigator Counterstrike
Now, Valve has allowed experienced Counter-Strike players themselves to deal with suspected cheaters. These experienced players, called ‘investigators’, will be able to review allegations and evidence of unfair activity. If necessary, the investigators can issue “temporary bans” on cheaters, until a moderator or administrator is available to deal with the problem.
The investigators are part of the “Overwatch” community (named after the authoritarian government in Valve’s bestseller Half-Life 2), who are chosen for their tasks on the basis of how long they’ve been playing, their official Skill Level, and their conduct within the Counter-Strike community.
The Counter-Strike community itself is an example of league gaming, where large numbers of players come together to battle one another in online combat over a local area network. Leagues allow gamers to compete in a wider area, with scores and statistics being ranked nationally (as in the case of Major League Gaming) or even globally (with the International Gaming League). Prizes can range from bragging rights to $1 million for scoring the most kills, leading your team to victory, accomplishing all mission criteria, and other factors by the end of the season.
League gaming is serious business. Forbes Magazine pointed out that even as attendances across professional sports leagues was low, Major League Gaming pulled 20,000 spectators in 2011 alone, with 35 million people watching live streams of the games being played. It’s the online following that has made league gaming a serious entertainment presence, as the costs for following online are cheaper than buying a premium cable package to watch professional sports. Big sponsorship deals are helping, too, with Red Bull’s American website hosting over 260,000 viewers over a single Major League Gaming weekend.