Video game cheats are tools designed to modify or circumvent the code of a video game during its production. They can take the form of graphical interfaces or simply be hacks that bypass the normal code of a program. Game developers put these tools in games during development for testing purposes and to debug titles quickly. They are not there for the gamers; however, some players use these codes as a way to play the game without going through the game over screen and back to the title screen.

The first game cheats were created in the 1980s. Some adventurous gamers with some basic computer knowledge used the 8-bit computing systems of the time to create third-party cheats. These programs used a technique known as POKE to change values in memory, which stored statistics such as player health and ammo counts. By changing the value, a game could be manipulated to give a player an advantage over other gamers.

These first game cheats were simple and easy to use. Later, with the rise of online gaming, a new type of cheat was developed that allowed a player to create macro scripts to automate the process of finding items or defeating enemies. This was considered cheating and could cause players to be banned from a game. This type of cheating was especially difficult to detect because the cheats were often written in a scripting language like Visual Basic.

Today, there are many internal game cheats that do not require any third-party software to install. These are usually hacks that utilize a technique called hooking to extend the functionality of a program at runtime. In general programming, a hook is a mechanism that can attach to any function and add new functionality to it. Developing an internal game cheat requires a lot of work as the developer has to dig into a modified console or computer system and read through what can be hundreds of leaked source code files for a specific video game.

In addition to hooking, a program that is programmed as an internal game cheat also needs to understand how the video game works, how certain graphical interfaces work and even how the graphics engine or 3D rendering works. There are a number of different ways that an internal game cheat can be created including examining leaked code, reverse engineering a hack or just talking to a friend who has access to a modified console or PC with a modded game to get the hack.

The prevalence of internal and external cheats is hurting honest gamers. They are frustrated by their inability to play the game by the rules and they are becoming less interested in the game overall. This is a concern for both the gaming industry and consumers alike as it can lead to an overall decline in video game sales and popularity. This is why it is so important to ensure that cheat prevention techniques are thoroughly implemented when a video game is released.