Draw Something & the art of cheating

by Bernard De Koven on July 6, 2012

In his article in the LATimes, Cheating rampant on OMGPOP’s Draw Something — what to do? David Sarno writes:

“There’s no real way to flag a player for cheating, or to ban or block them — or even to message them to ask them to stop. (Enterprising players, this writer included, have tried to use the actual game interface to paint out a plea to opponents to please stop cheating. Sometimes it works, most times not).

“When people write out words, the other player usually doesn’t answer and deletes the [match],” (OMGPOP CEO Dan) Porter wrote. “We log this behavior which helps us figure out which players are best to match. So people who write out words a lot over time get less matches.”

I, on the other hand, like this about the game. A lot. I like the game (well, I like helping my wife Rocky play it) anway: I like how it invites creativity, how you really don’t have to be a good artist, how the people you play with keep on coming back even though they don’t have to… In fact, I like that part also especially, the part where you don’t really have to commit to playing, so that by playing you demonstrate the fact that you want to play, that you are having and sharing fun together. But I especially value the cheating part. It’s a strange kind of cheating, because it helps both of you. But it is really cheating. It breaks something. It makes the game fragile enough to make you want to protect it. It is, after all, an unwritten rule. I mean, nowhere does the game tell you your not supposed to cheat. And there are times when you really almost have to cheat, because the word you chose turns out to be much more difficult to represent than you anticipated. Sure, if you write down the whole word you kind of break the game. But you can make it a kind of art, the cheating thing. Make it an act of, well, shall we say “creative cheating.” You could make a rebus, write maybe just the first letter (starts with…), or last. Or the last couple letters. Or write the etymology of the word, or its Hebrew root. Get, you know, creative about the whole cheating thing.

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