Exploits are just another facet in the world of gaming

Published 4:30 pm Saturday, June 7, 2014

“Mario Kart 8” players have found a new way to keep speed boosts running longer. It’s called fire hopping, which involves players jumping at the very end of a speed boost to continue it for fractions of a second. It’s advantageous in turns and may or may not give a significant boost in speed to players who use it.

Some players are already calling foul over the exploit. And so an age-old argument begins again.

Look, exploits have been around for ages in various games. Combos in fighting games were invented after enterprising “Street Fighter II” players figured out ways to keep an oppontent stunned and off-balance for a majority of a fight, all while using the game’s engine in an improper manner.

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In the early Super Mario games, there are always warp tunnels in the early levels that will propel you to the last world. And in the first “Super Mario Bros.,” there’s one map that will give you 99 1-Ups if you know where to jump.

Most of the time, game developers don’t mean to include these exploits in the final game. They’re byproducts of the game’s engine and the developer’s code. Many people love to explore a game’s programming to find little ways to get ahead, to get another life, to exploit the game’s environment.

That’s how people can speed run huge games like “The Legend of Zelda — Majora’s Mask” in 20 minutes or less. That’s how people beat games like “Chrono Trigger” in little more than an hour. It’s also how people get a small edge over the competition in a game like “Mario Kart 8.”

People will constantly debate what constitutes an exploit and what constitutes a cheat, or hack. More often than not, cheating and hacking involves players introducing their own programming to a game to get an intended result — like maximum strength in an RPG or constant blue shells in a Mario Kart game.

At the end of the day, exploits, cheats and hacks are simply the end result of many gamers’ curious natures. It’s only when gamers have to compete with one another that these issues get brought up. Is fire hopping illegal? Likely not, for Mario Kart players who can remember snaking, wheelies, drifting and other such techniques to get a leg up on the competition. Is it frustrating? Only if players can’t figure out how to do it.

Like it or not, exploits are simply another facet of gaming. If players don’t like a certain exploit, they can always join another room where well-defined exploits aren’t happening. Otherwise, you may as well consider exploits as just another thing to master in a game. If fire hopping turns out to be advantageous, then that’s just another part of “Mario Kart 8.”