Video game cheats are codes that can be entered into a video game to give the player an unfair advantage over other players. These codes can range from simple to elaborate, and they can help players reach the end of a game without having to play through it all first. Cheats can also give the user a wide range of special abilities in a game, including invisible and invincible characters, unlimited ammo, power-ups and more. Cheating in video games can cause a great deal of frustration for honest gamers, and it may lead them to abandon the game altogether. This can have a negative impact on the video game industry, which has grown into a multibillion-dollar business.

The earliest game cheats were developed as tools to aid video game developers in the testing phase of development. A simple code, like “COMBOS” (“COmbats” and “Modes”), could teleport a player to any cavern in the game. This allowed developers to test the game’s last parts without having to play through the whole thing before it was released. Modern video game cheats are more complicated and can include camera hacks to give the user a wider field of view, radars to display opponents’ locations, and ESP (electronic sensing program) visuals that reveal information to the player, such as the cooldown time on an enemy ability or the location of spawned loot. Some cheats also remove challenging elements to make the game easier, such as lag switches that slow an opponent’s action down or a “drop hack” that automatically drops the player’s weapon for them.

Many video game cheats involve modifying the game software, a practice that is illegal under most gaming license agreements (EULAs). EULAs allow for modification of game data files but not the underlying system drivers, so these types of cheats are harder to detect than those that directly alter the game’s code. Some cheats use the system driver to bypass depth checking and draw all objects on the screen, a process called wallhacking. These are easier to spot by 3rd-party anti-cheat systems than the direct modification of the game’s code itself.

Some video game cheats, especially those related to online multiplayer games, can create virtual economies within the game world, allowing players to trade in-game items for real money. These activities can violate the terms of service for most online games, which explicitly prohibit trading in-game items for real cash. Others, such as aimbots, autoaim and macro scripts, automate a player’s response to an opponent’s actions and can cross the line into cheating, depending on the rules of a particular game and the consensus opinion among gamers. The industry has worked to combat these issues by introducing achievements and trophies, which encourage fair play, as well as micro-transactions for extra lives and other advantages that can be used to level the playing field between casual and competitive gamers.