A games cheat is a piece of software that modifies the code in a game. These are usually hacks that allow the user to bypass certain obstacles within the game or provide them with an unfair advantage in the game’s mechanics. They have been an indelible part of video game history since the 1980s. They were originally used by developers to debug titles, but have since evolved into features that augment or alter a game’s gameplay.

Cheats are created by hackers who use the exploitation methods in the same way that malware is developed. They scour game files and look for vulnerabilities that can be exploited to create the cheat. This is done by looking for specific patterns such as memory dumping or hex dumping in order to access and modify game values such as health, ammo or player skin kits.

Some gamers choose to cheat because they enjoy the technical challenge of discovering holes in the anti-cheating software that games have built in. Others view it as an ethical challenge that is necessary to beat the latest anti-cheating system that has been put in place by game developers. And, there are those who simply find it very entertaining to do so and are willing to spend a lot of time and effort in the process to do so.

The development of cheats is not only a hobby but a highly lucrative business that has grown into a multi-million dollar industry. Most of these sites offer a ‘cheat as a service’ model where the hacker sells their cheat to gamers and keeps up with updates and add-ons on a regular basis. Often this translates into the sale of stolen account credentials for online gaming accounts and in-game items as well.

Those who develop cheats and exploit the code in games typically do so because of a passion for the technology and a desire to be top of the scoreboard. For some it is a stepping stone towards more serious hacking. “Creating cheats is a good learning experience for people to get familiar with programming and the ways that a program can be modified,” says Santiago Pontiroli of Kaspersky Lab.

But, the popularity of esports tournaments that pay out huge sums of money for winning teams has caused a shift in the way many gamers see cheating. With such large sums of money on the line, it is in the best interest of game developers to create controls that cannot be manipulated by external software. For this reason, players are no longer allowed to cheat in the majority of modern esports titles. This is a major change in the gaming world from previous generations where the vast majority of games welcomed such alterations. This is a move that could have some significant long term consequences for the gaming industry. However, some games still allow cheating and have a wide variety of options available to the player. This includes in-game guides that can help you find hidden objects, weapons, tricky exits or the weak points of a main enemy.