Is it cheating to fake achievements?

It was only a matter of time before people figured out how to fake achievements in Warcraft.

It’s become quite common for people putting together PUGs and raids to ask prospective members to link achievements, to prove that they know the fights or have beaten them before. It was probably inevitable. The ability to ‘boast’ publically about your in-game achievements has made them the ultimate skill currency.

The downside was always that this depended on Blizzard-definitions of skill. There aren’t any achievements for raid leading, for example, which is where it might be most glaringly useful. (You want me to sign up for your raid? Prove you know what you’re doing?) In any case, if you want to show that you are a skilful player, now you can prove it.

Or can you?

I was reading this discussion on the official forums last week, which is all about people using addons to link achievements that they haven’t actually completed. I laughed. I have limitless faith in the ability of players to find ways around stupid rules with which they don’t agree.

And I’m also sure that someone out there is working on an addon to check the official achievement lists published by Blizzard in the armoury to verify whether a linked achievement is real or not. It’s like the hacker/anti-hacker wars all over again.

But  is it cheating to lie to someone about your achievements in an online game? Well no. You can say what you like as long as it isn’t offensive. There’s nothing in the EULA that says you have to always tell the truth to other players. Blizzard have stepped in before to  stop certain types of misdirection on the auction house (e.g. people listing really expensive items next to really cheap ones to try to lure the illiterate into buying both by mistake), but they don’t get overly involved in personal disputes.

What if you fake that the message actually came from the in-game interface? This one is tricker. Back in MUSH days, we called this spoofing and spoofing another player meant that you made it look as though they had said or done something when actually it was  you. It was viewed as funny but impolite. You see this also in bboards, where you can edit a reply to make it look as though someone said something which they didn’t. Again, can be funny, not very polite.

Faking a message from the game engine is edgier because it’s a kind of appeal to authority – but to my mind, still in the category of funny but a bit naughty. If nothing else, it teaches players the valuable lesson: don’t believe everything you read online. If people really want to see if you know your stuff, perhaps they’ll have to actually talk to you, check your gear in person, or go look it up for themselves.

What do you think? Cheating or not?

18 thoughts on “Is it cheating to fake achievements?

  1. To be honest I’m in the ‘norty but funny’ line of things, especially when you see what some of the people want achievements for. Requiring people to have all the achievements in Naxx on a PUG run is just plain stupid to be honest. Yes, obviously you wnt a nice, quick run but how on earth are people without big enough guilds supposed to gear up otherwise.

    It’s gotten to the point where it’s daft on some realms, so I perfectly understand people just taking that little line of code written oh-so-handily on the general forum and using it.

  2. I absolutely loathe that ‘Link Achievement’ thing. Being in a group that has downed KT has nothing to do with your ability to actually down KT or not stand in fire.

    It may suggest you have the basic grasp of simple instructions not to wipe the raid on Thadd but that’s still kind of doubtful. So I until I actually finished Naxx I just used to link the clear achievement of the person spamming for the pug.

  3. I hate Achievements, do I really care you downed a boss in 10 minutes. I really don’t. When someone gets an achievement in guild, everyone Congrats those people, I go “meh” cause really I don’t care. Yeah I’m jerk.

  4. I don’t think it’s against the rules, but it takes a certain level of dishonesty to do such things. If I find out someone does things like that, I stop associating with them. I prefer my friends to have a higher caliber of respect for themselves and for others.

  5. There are two separate issues really. 1) methods pug raid leaders use to form raids and 2) lying to other people.

    Lying I think has always been an option for players. The consequences are social. If I were putting together regular pugs and someone lied to me I’d just ignore list them, effectively blacklisting them from future raids I build. Not because they can’t kill KT but because I don’t like being lied to.

    Whether it’s acceptable to ask for achievements is another issue. I think everyone is tending to view this from the outraged consumer perspective – how dare someone question my skills!

    I think what the raid leaders are thinking is that most puggers are clueless idiots. If the trade channel offers

    1) People who are the reason bosses like KT die
    2) People who are kinda useless but happen to have the achievement
    3) People who are kinda useless but happen to not have the achievement

    then what a raid leader wants to do is maximise the numbers from category 1). Pretty much all the people in category 1) will have the achievement. If you take people from category 3) they are taking up a space that might have been one of your category 1) puggers.

    I would point out as well that before the Link Achievement system very very few people were forming pug raids except for VOA.

    It may be a meh system but it does at least get people running raids who otherwise wouldn’t bother. And if you don’t approve of it lying your way in doesn’t exactly give you the moral high ground.

  6. Afterthought: on a lighter note, back on the subject of lying here is the blog of one of my favourite MMO liars:

    I particularly love the scam where, having become so hated that people will do anything to get back at him, he starts a fund to kill his main character with an alt and collects yet more money from his victims.

  7. Stabs: I think they are a bit more connected. If there wasn’t any benefit from spoofing achievements, then it’d be an (arguably) amusing trick, like all the silly Dirge spam. It’s because of the way the players are using achievements that it gets more interesting to fake them.

    I do sympathise with PUG raid leaders but at the end of the day, I can link my Emalon achievements all day … it still won’t tell you which spec I was in when I killed him 🙂

  8. There’s already websites where people can check on your achievements. Generally, PUG leaders will check without having to ask for a link. That way they can just say “full, sorry” instead of “you suck too much, sorry”. One of those earns a pug leader a place on my ignore list, for sure.

  9. Cheating? No.

    Naughty? Obviously.

    If you really want to know what achievements people have, then there are websites you can visit, such as pugchecker, that show you what content people have cleared.

    Requesting people to link their achievements is useless anyway. Even if somebody links the actual achievement from their own log though doesn’t mean anything. You can get those achievements while being carried through by your other guild members. For all we know, you could have died 3 seconds into the fight and then the rest of the raid pulled you out.

    It doesn’t mean you cheated to get the achievement, it just means that you suck while the rest of your guild is good, yet you got credit for their greatness. Achievements are a very poor tool for use in finding out how good/bad a player is or how much skill they do or do not have.

  10. Stabs: I think they are a bit more connected.

    What I was driving at is that there seems to be a general feeling amongst people who normally would rather not con other players that it’s ok to con other players who ask you to link achievements because it’s a crappy thing to ask. (Certainly on the WoW boards if not here).

    My point is if you’re not ok with being a liar then don’t be.

    And secondarily if someone else is forming a pug you should probably play by their rules or not join. Scamming them just ultimately means less pug raid leaders because it’s a kinda crappy job anyway that gets even crappier if everyone lies to you on the basis that you’re an ass for trying to actually make something happen as opposed to hanging around Dala bored like everyone else.

  11. As a guildleader who regularly PUG’s in people to fill out guild raids, I find a quick wow-heroes gear check to be much more instructive than asking for achievements.
    Plus, IMHO, if someone is smart enough about WOW to know how to create fake achievement links, then they’re probably fairly reasonable players.

    • Haha. Actually I use the same line of thinking on Vigilance in PUGs. If someone is smart enough to ask for Vigilance then they probably know what it does and will make good use of it.

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  13. Do like being lied to? Fine, I understand that.

    But after gearing up my alt I finally managed to do 3k on patchwerk in a naxx guildrun and thought I’m finally good enough to pug VoA.

    Problem was, this guy wanted the achievement. I did the honest thing – I told him I have it on my main and know the tactics well, but this being an alt I hadn’t had the chance to get it yet. He didn’t respond to me and continued spamming trade channel for more group members.

    So I’ve had no choice – I tried the honest route, but people like that kind of force you into sinking that little bit lower into lying to them.

    As has been said above – just because you have the achievement doesn’t mean you’re good. Hell, you could be dead the entire fight but if the remaining members get the boss down – so have you effectively.

    So I’ve no problem using a fake achievement to get the real one – if they kick me or don’t give me loot, I don’t care, because next time I can link the proper one and all will be fine and dandy!

  14. I kindof disagree with achievement system. It lowers the degree of liberty a player has. I dont think it is fair someone to be able to check u if u completed something (and i’m not saying this having cheating ni mind). I want to be a rogue(in a good sense) and I want to see rogues in the game. I’d like to trust a person because of their word and not by enforcing a check. I’m not a banker, and the game should remain a game. Failure is human and I want to see that 2 in the game. I want freedom.

    • People are always going to judge you though, Alex. Whether it’s by looking up your achievements, scouting your gear, checking the damage meters, or your spelling in chat. From your point of view, trying to get into the group, your liberty is limited because you can’t get into content while lacking the achievement. To the one in charge of the group though, it gives him greater liberty to keep “noobs” out of his group that have never accomplished it before and by so doing increase the chance of his and his group’s success. It’s limiting to those who haven’t done it while it’s liberating to those who have.

      If you participate in achievements, then you increase your liberty. If you don’t participate, then you limit it. The achievement system is just like taking tests in school. If you always fail your tests, then you probably don’t have the liberty to go hang out with your friends once your parents find out. If you always pass all of your tests, then you probably have the liberty to do just about anything you want to within reason.

      In the game, whoever’s in charge of the group is your parent. If you’ve passed your tests, then they’ll let you know whether or not you’re allowed to go watch a movie in Old Kingdom, play baseball in the Construct Quarter, or throw down a game of chess in Karazhan.

      The system helps those who put forth some effort, even if it’s false effort. But it only limits you based on your “parent’s” rules. If they say you can’t go on a raid without getting scoring a 100 on your test (heroic difficulty achievements), then that’s the way it is. You can cheat to get the grade and still be allowed to go, or you can work on achieving that score yourself. If you fail the test, or don’t bother taking it in the first place, then you will never meet the requirement for that party leader. But just like parents, not all party leaders set the same standards. While some might require you to have a certain achievement to join in, others will not.

      You already have the freedom you’re looking for, you’re just trying to exorcise it in the wrong place. PuG’s are more like babysitters than parents, rather than knowing that you usually do good on tests but simply bombed the last one, all the babysitter knows is that you failed your test yesterday so you aren’t allowed to go out an play at all today. Your real parents (guild/raid leader) know that you put three weeks worth of study time in on that test that you failed, and they’ll probably let you go out and play a bit even though you didn’t pass.

      So to sum up that TL;DR reply there, if you want to run content without having the achievement for it then you either need to find a PuG that is open to everybody (success depends somewhat on the general attitude of your server), or you need to find a guild that’s willing to take you along without having the achievements already.

      And I know the analogy up there doesn’t work all that great and could vary greatly between everyone’s own experiences, so if you reply to this part don’t bother trying to point out the flaws as it’s simply there to help illustrate the point.

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