Sanctioned Cheating

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Cheating which either is supported by the game design or is seen as acceptable to a certain degree by other players.

A basic agreement when playing games is that one should follow the rules. However, some games give some leeway in this by supporting actions that in other circumstances (or games) would be seen as cheating. These actions might be punishable if other players detected them in multiplayer games or might make others view the actions in a single-player game more as playing than gaming. In both case, the game design does sanction these "cheating" and can by this be said to provide Sanctioned Cheating.


Some traditional Card Games such as Cheat provide Sanctioned Cheating in that it is okay to lie but being called out on it has a negative consequence. Another Card Game, Illuminati, allows players to do some specific types of cheating actions which have to be retracted if other players notice them.

"Creative Mode" in Minecraft can be seen as a form of Sanctioned Cheating since it provides players with unlimited resources. The cheat codes provided in for example the Sims series function the same way but require the players to use these explicitly as they need resources.

Many First-Person Shooters such as the Doom series allow players to access command prompts where they can change the game state and give themselves abilities (e.g. becoming immune to damage by entering "god mode"). Using similar systems in the Europa Universalis series allow players to change ownership of provinces, activate events or otherwise affect the game state.

Using programs to control one's avatar to do routine actions in MMOGs such as World of Warcraft and Eve Online can be seen as Sanctioned Cheating but opinions may differ between players and the game developers.

Using the pattern

Sanctioned Cheating is basically deciding on allowing or making possible certain gameplay actions that are typically seen as cheating. This typically provides an initial set of possible actions to consider, but besides this game designers can consider whom is sanctioned to use them and if there are rule-based consequences to being found out using these actions. That the actions often should be hidden and that they are not presented as direct gameplay actions make Concealing the use of Extra-Game Actions one prime way of creating Sanctioned Cheating. This also implies that some amount of Imperfect Information must exist about the gameplay.

Cheat Codes is a way of creating Sanctioned Cheating to give players access to Resources or give them Abilities, Powers, or Invulnerabilities they otherwise wouldn't have. It is typically only used in Single-Player Games due to the problems with Player Balance and being able to notice its use in Multiplayer Games.

Feigned Die Rolls is a type of Sanctioned Cheating that Game Masters can allow themselves to have by simply hiding their die rolls. They can typically do this without complaints since they are Entitled Players.

Sanctioned Cheating is a Subject Pattern since players can argue that they are allowed since players can do them. In some cases it is also subjective in that players, or more likely Game Masters, can decide that the cheating they are doing is sanctioned on the basis of improving the experience for all players. One example can be "cheating" by worsening your one position to achieve Player Balance, and this type of Sanctioned Cheating can be seen as players taking control of the game to make it a Self-Facilitated Game. Glitch Usage may be a type of Sanctioned Cheating depend on what it is used (i.e. it is subjective if this is the case). One case when it is typically seen as sanctioned is in Speedruns since players attempting these are adding very specific additional goals to the gameplay activity.


Sanctioned Cheating affects Single-Player Games and Multiplayer Games differently. In Single-Player Games they provide players a greater degree of Freedom of Choice and give Creative Control both in creating Player Defined Goals and in defining what types of activity they actually want to have from interacting with the game; Pottering for example can significantly be supported through Sanctioned Cheating. In Multiplayer Games, the pattern typically forces players to behave as they are doing something while doing something else. This is a form of Bluffing which may require Roleplaying that also provides players with a form of Stealth goals. Players engaging in Sanctioned Cheating in Multiplayer Games may alos experience Tension over the risk of being exposed while those that do not may have Tension from knowing that other players may be engaging in it.

Since the actions provided by the Sanctioned Cheating is to a certain level forbidden, being able to do them can give players an Exaggerated Perception of Influence.

Sanctioned Cheating has a fickle relation to Game-Based Social Statuses; performing Sanctioned Cheating well may provide a positive status of this type but just as well ruin one depending on the opinions of other players of what is acceptable.

Somewhat paradoxically, Sanctioned Cheating is used to achieve Player Balance; this is probably more common in Self-Facilitated Games since players make take control of the game facilitation specifically for this reason.


++ to add and link Ownership

Command Line Systems

Privileged Abilities Invulnerabilities Mules Difficulty Levels

++ to link properly

Can Instantiate

Exaggerated Perception of Influence, Game-Based Social Statuses

with Multiplayer Games

Bluffing, Player Balance, Roleplaying, Stealth, Tension

with Single-Player Games

Creative Control, Freedom of Choice, Player Defined Goals, Pottering

Can Modulate

Difficulty Levels, Multiplayer Games, Single-Player Games, Speedruns

Can Be Instantiated By

Cheat Codes, Feigned Die Rolls, Glitch Usage, Imperfect Information, Mules, Self-Facilitated Games

Privileged Abilities Invulnerabilities

Conceal together with Extra-Game Actions

Can Be Modulated By


Possible Closure Effects


Potentially Conflicting With

Game-Based Social Statuses


New pattern created in this wiki.