|Is he or isn't he?|
There's been a lot of talk in the news recently about cheats, and it seems eventually cheating will catch up with you. No I'm not talking about Lance Armstrong, although that in and of itself is an interesting cautionary tale. Here we have a man who was undoubtedly an extremely talented and gifted athlete, who if you believe the huge body of evidence against him is actually guilty of quite possibly the most elaborate doping scheme the world of sport has ever seen. Obviously Lance Armstrong denies these allegations, and I'm torn about whether to believe them. I mean the brain looks at what has been said and by whom and nods in sad agreement. But my heart, the part of me that admired Lance Armstrong as the supreme athlete I thought he was, just can't bear to think that he might have won all his titles and performed all these super human feats while under the influence of performance enhancing drugs. It honestly, and genuinely upset me an awful lot.
Why? Because I take the spirit of competition very, very seriously. You see to me if somebody kicks my ass at any sport or game I want to know that my ass is being kicked fairly. I might not like it that somebody is getting the better of me, but if it is in fair competition I'll extent my hand at the end of the game and be a gentlemen about it, and say well played. Sport was always the same for me, although the levels of sport I've played at have never got to the levels where doping would have been present (I hope) there were always cheats. People willing to bend those rules just a little bit to gain an edge. Here's the thing, I think the urge to cheat, to gain the upper hand is so ingrained in the human psyche that it is almost inevitable. Here's why. Even me, who I think is a paragon of fair play at times, I inform opponents when they've forgotten to do something, even when it's to my own detriment, so yes, even I sometimes get urges to 'nudge' that miniature slightly when no one is looking because then it'll be in charge range. We've all had these thoughts I'm sure, even if they are infrequent.
|If you live in one of these, then perhaps...|
Yep, sometimes it would be so easy to cheat in these small little ways and have no one even notice, that I'm surprised by my own personal restraint. Funny thing is I've caught others doing such things, or 'fast rolling' dice and picking up 'successes' that never were, before people can check them. It's cheating, no matter how small, and no matter how inconsequential such stuff often is to the outcome of a game. But, it gives people that little edge, an unfair one mind you, but an edge. Now I'm not saying everyone out there is a serial cheater, that's just not the case in my experience. Nope, the opposite is true actually, in my now 28 years of gaming I've actually come across very few incidents of actual cheating, minor or otherwise. So it seems that the code of honour that resides in me, resides in all of you lot too, which is actually quite comforting to know. Yet I contest it's a struggle in all of us too. The urge to 'win' is a very strong driving and motivating factor in humans, it has been driven into us by evolution. The need to get an 'edge' is strong in many of us. So while I'm not saying it's a case of people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, I am saying that maybe more of our own houses are constructed of glass than we first thought.
|...you shouldn't throw too many of these!|
For some of us it is too strong. I'm sure many of you know where this is going don't you? Well there has been a bit of a 'buzz' throughout the tournament scene recently over an incident of cheating at Beaky Con in Tampa, Florida. The old loaded dice urban myth if you will being totally busted as a myth, as it becomes reality. Well guess what, I knew it wasn't an urban myth as I'd seen the act been committed in front of my very own eyes. I've been on the end of loaded dice, it wasn't nice, but it was so blatant that it wasn't even in question when witnesses and independent observers were called in the verify my claims. Hell recently I've even heard tales off of gamers people have built MoFaux decks with two red jokers in them and no Black Jokers, plus a slightly altered set of suits that would be difficult to clock as a gamer unless you had an awesome card counting ability. All sneaky, and not so sneaky, ways of getting an edge... or if we're calling it what it actually is, cheating! Yep, that most heinous of crimes to a Brit, not playing fair. It's just not cricket or gentlemanly, and it flies in the face of what we stand for, it gets our stiff upper lips all a quiver at the injustice of it all... but lets calm it down a notch or two.
I've read the comments of rage, anger and despair from gamers. Gamers who weren't at this tournament, gamers who quite frankly will never likely meet this guy. Did he behave like a douche bag? Yeah he did. Is it good that so many people find his actions abhorrent? Yeah, in a way I guess it is, but that so many people seem to be so enraged and vexed at his actions does seem to smack of fake plastic rage. I'm sorry, I read the story and thought the guy was a bit of a dick, but he was dealt with. Why should people from Australia, Britain or France be leading a global witch hunt for a guy who games in Tampa, Florida? Seriously? Are we that deprived of excitement in our lives that we have to pursue some poor sod who has already been named and shamed in a room of his peers? Why do we need to do that? There are theories, but I'm not going to do them, lets just say part of it is to do with not wishing to be associated with such acts, the other part is trying to absolve some of our own sins. Look, the incident was dealt with on the day, it's done and dusted, why drag it out? It just makes the problem seem far worse than it actually is. Cheating is actually quite rare, and severe cheating like this even rarer, yet with the hubbub it has caused you'd think it was a plague afflicting our hobby. It isn't.
|Apparently these are the offending dice... my question is why?|
So I'm not going to join the witch hunt for this chaps name that seems to have ensued, because quite frankly I don't see how that will help the situation. 'Make an example of him and others won't want to follow suit' I've heard. Except in other walks of life that sort of treatment doesn't work does it? Nope, it's human nature to be unmitigated *bleeps* at times. We all like to think committing heinous, foul and dishonest acts aren't within us, that we could never do such things. But, research and honest introspection will prove otherwise. There have been a number of famous 'lost wallet' studies down the years. The newspapers love them, they show as a 'headline' that a surprising amount of us, in fact the vast majority of us, will hand the wallet in or give it back to the person who 'dropped' it. What the newspapers rarely discuss though is the 'peaking' phenomenon many of these studies have witnessed. You see, in many of these studies the behaviour of the individuals prior to keeping, or returning the item is just as important as the ultimate act, and what is interesting is that a surprising amount of people will open the wallet up to see what is inside, yet again the vast majority.
Why would you do that if the idea of keeping what is inside hadn't crossed your mind, no matter how briefly? Of course you could also be looking for some form of identification or name I guess, and I wouldn't like to ascribe a motive where there isn't a clear proof of one. But, it is interesting that people do peak inside first before deciding to give the wallet back. So while most of us wouldn't use loaded dice, fiddle with a deck of cards, or do any other myriad of dishonest things during our games, lets not pretend we're all whiter than white... we're not. I bet many of us will think about it from time to time, and some of us will have cheated, even if only slightly, and as a kid I was a despicable cheat at Blood Bowl, but that was part of the rules. Honest! No seriously I was a complete git with cheating, often I'd have more re-rolls than I was allowed, have more players on the pitch and even move further than my players were supposed to. But if I'm airing my dirty linen I used to cheat against my dad at Warhammer Fantasy too, I had what many would term 'elastic tape measures syndrome' shall we say? Things that were just out of charge range when measured, sudden were in charge range.
|Ben Johnson another famous athletic cheat.|
However, I never won many games that way, and it never did me much good. Plus I always felt bad when doing it, so I just stopped. I guess my parents did a pretty bang up job of raising me to be as honest and as fair as I could be. So before we all start stoning this cheat to death lets make sure our own houses are in order first. Lets make sure we've never done anything even slightly dodgy in our own games ourselves first shall we. I'm not accusing us all of being dirty serial cheaters, but I bet there's a few of us out there who have, at the very least, bent the rules just a teeny tiny bit. Is that the same as using loaded dice? No, but it is still cheating isn't it? So what should we do when faced with this behaviour? Well if it's you doing the cheating, bloody stop! If it's your opponent well call them on it, but be civil. Trust me the embarrassment of a room full of their peers knowing that they're a cheat will be punishment enough, and event organisers, what should they do? Well that's a judgement call isn't it? I'm not going to join the calls for lifetime bans or their like, why? Because it's toy soldiers people. Peace out!