If you are an online gamer, chances are you have played with or against someone who is prepared to step outside the rule-book in pursuit of victory. Cheating is a significant problem facing those who develop and play online games — so much to the point that one of the world’s most popular Call of Duty players recently announced that he was quitting the game due to the large percentage of players trying to hack and cheat the system.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but cheating is not in the spirit of fair play in any type of competition — including online games. Not only that, but cheating often leads the perpetrator to engage in behaviour that can land them in significant legal trouble. As an online gamer, prioritising fair and safe gaming practises should be one of your top priorities.

The ‘world’s biggest’ video game cheat-operation

The Chinese police and technology giant Tencent recently collaborated to shut down what was reportedly the world’s largest video-game cheat-operation, which earned organisers approximately $99 million AUD.

The operation, known as “Chicken Drumstick”, was run by a gang of 10 individuals who designed and sold cheats to popular online games, including Overwatch and Call of Duty.

“Chicken Drumstick” operated on a subscription model and prices ranged from $10 a day to $200 a month. Upon arresting the perpetrators, $60 million AUD in assets were also seized by the Chinese police.

While this is believed to be the world’s largest online gaming cheating ring, it is by no means an isolated event. Reported incidents of cheating have risen dramatically over the past few years, as the stakes have become higher and more money has been made available to winners.

Warning signs of a cheat

No one likes a gaming cheat — unfortunately, the more time you spend gaming online, the more likely you are to run into someone who is more than happy to circumvent the rules in pursuit of victory.

Fortunately, there are a few class warning signs that you can watch for to identify cheating opponents:

Abnormally high kill counts

Yes, your opponent could just be really good at the game. However, abnormally high kill counts in battle games can be a potential sign of a cheat, particularly if the player hasn’t been playing the game for too long.

Deadly aim

A ‘wallhack’ is a particular type of cheat in which game maps and terrains are modified so a player can see through what should be a solid wall. An opponent with incredible accuracy may have a hidden advantage up their sleeve.


For a cheater, the biggest thrill often comes with rubbing their victory into their opponent’s face. While there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of friendly banter, persistent and unpleasant bragging can indicate that your opponent hasn’t been playing by the rules.

Gaming cheats will also often try to hinder the progress of their opponents through attacks known as ‘DDoS’ or ‘Distributed Denial of Service’. If you find that your own device is lagging and you are struggling to keep up with the pace of gameplay, a hacker may be attempting to overwhelm your connection with a flood of traffic that prevents you from competing.

Tips for online gaming safety and etiquette

It goes without saying — don’t be a cheat. Winning may be fun but the only way that all players can enjoy the game is if everyone is playing by the rules.

Aside from this, there are a series of standard online gaming ‘etiquette’ rules that should be followed if all are to have a fun, safe time. Following these rules can also help keep you safe from online criminals.

Treat others the way you want to be treated

Online gaming is competitive. While it’s understandable that you might get caught up in the heat of the moment and let a few frustrated words fly, online bullying in any form is not acceptable. Use appropriate language when talking with others and respect the views and opinions of your fellow gamers.

Don’t quit when the going gets tough

If you’re being decimated in a battle, it might be tempting to “accidentally” hit the quit button. However, this kind of behaviour is not on in the gaming community. You wouldn’t walk off a sports field midway through a quarter because you were behind on the scoreboard — stay online until the full game is complete and then thank your opponents and team-mates.

Protect your information and the information of others

Online gamers are frequently the target of cybercriminals, for a variety of reasons. When you sign up to a gaming platform, you usually have to provide quite a substantial amount of personal information — your full name, date of birth, location, and even credit card details. This type of information is incredibly valuable to online criminals. Ensure you are doing everything you can to protect your information and prevent it from ending up on the dark web.

Use gaming antivirus

As members of the digital world, it’s our responsibility to take appropriate steps to protect ourselves and others online. As part of that, all gamers should make use of gaming antivirus security products. Protect yourself against the most common types of attacks facing gamers — including viruses, malware, DDos, doxxing, and webcam hacking — by using trustworthy antivirus software.

Online gaming is a fun and social way to keep in touch with friends. However, no one wants to play with a cheat. By always following the rules and reporting any suspicious behaviour, you can be sure that you and your friends are having fun and staying safe online.