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Cheating Spreads Like Infections in Online Games

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Jeremy Blackburn

South Florida University researcher Jeremy Blackburn


Online gaming communities are investing significant resources to find and stop cheaters.

For example, University of South Florida researchers have been studying a social network of about 12 million gamers on the Steam Community, of which about 700,000 are cheaters. The researchers found that cheaters are much more likely to become friends with other cheaters.

Cheating also appears to be infectious, according to the researchers. The data shows that the likelihood of a fair player becoming labeled as a cheater in the future is directly correlated with the person's number of friends who are cheaters. In addition, once a person is labeled as a cheater, they tend to lose friends that play fair.

The research points to a new angle of attack for gaming communities that want to eliminate cheating, says South Florida's Jeremy Blackburn. The researchers want to use the structure of the network to predict the likelihood that a given player will become a cheater in the future.

From Technology Review
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