Why Cheat Codes Are a Huge Part of Video Game History

Not so long ago developer Kazuhisa Hashimoto, who created the well-known Konami code, passed away, he was 61. For 35 years, Hashimoto’s sequence of button presses has been memorized by lots and lots of gamers. It’s simply a legend.

Hashimoto made a very important contribution to the whole industry of video games, but now, cheat codes are a part of gaming history which is under-appreciated.

We are saddened to hear about the passing of Kazuhisa Hashimoto, a deeply talented producer who first introduced the world to the “Konami Code”.

Our thoughts are with Hashimoto-san’s family and friends at this time. Rest In Peace. pic.twitter.com/vQijEQ8lU2

— Konami (@Konami) February 26, 2020

What does it have to do with the memes?

So there was this video game meme not too long ago, where people combined some games with this emotional text being like “You not only cheated the game but also yourself”. It made fun of players who tried doing literally anything to make the game slightly easier. The meme originated from a tweet attacking a journalist for using cheat codes while playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

Think about Sekiro’s difficulty what you will, but the game started a debate about the difficulty in video games which not even FromSoftware’s past Dark Souls series could sustain.

Some people believe that lower difficulty levels withhold from the feelings of fulfillment they get when they win. Other people understand that someone else’s easier experience doesn’t affect their more difficult experience in any way. They can tell apart winning a fake video game from real-world growth. They realize various forms of accessibility are more important than their gamer gatekeeping garbage.

Outside this stupid difficulty debate, the initial post that inspired the meme also annoyed some by saying that speedrunners or cheat codes are a kind of degradation. That’s just not true. Cheat codes are a part of video game history.

The most important characteristic of games is that they are interactive. Developers give you the necessary tools and guidance, but then it’s the player who makes the magic happen. Cheat codes are a completely valid way to change the interaction with the space. By using them you don’t break the rules. Anything you can do in the game, all sorts of hacks are okay for as long as they are in the game.

Cheat codes an essential part of video game culture, too. Secret codes in arcade games were a thing lots of people bonded around and they also helped to spread the word of playground knowledge of the early internet. Entire cottage industries surrounded cheat codes, and big video game websites get tons of traffic from walkthroughs even now.

One of the most precious parts of present-day retro-inspired games is the way they embrace cheating. Everyone’s delighted with re-release of the original Final Fantasy VII on Nintendo Switch, where you can blaze through the story thanks to cheats.  And how satisfying it is to go back with a new arsenal in The Panzer Dragoon and re-visit the bosses that previously troubled you.

Unfortunately, nowadays it’s much easier to claim that cheat codes in video games aren’t a thing really, and not because the games industry has changed. Due to the fact that there are so many multiplayer games, just competitive balance in the world of pro paid esports players is of course more significant than having fun locally with friends and stuff like this.

Moreover, game publishers have realized that they can make more money if they sell various bonuses through microtransactions instead of including them as cheat codes. And just like that, people have to pay $10 for an XP boost in games like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey when they could have just pressed some buttons in a secret order to activate God Mode. Yet again, the increasingly predatory capitalism is to blame.

So, I want you to understand that there’s no incorrect way to play a video game. And if you’d like to play on easy difficulties, it’s fine, just like with hard mode. If you just want to pet dogs, that’s even better. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Hopefully, both players and publishers get it, too. By proceeding to deny the importance of cheat codes, we aren’t only cheating the games, but we’re also cheating ourselves.