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Half of social game cheaters cheat in real life too, says study
Half of social game cheaters cheat in real life too, says study
January 11, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

A new study from PopCap Games finds that those who cheat while playing social games are nearly 3.5 times more likely to be dishonest in the real world than non-cheaters, with offenses ranging from cheating on taxes to illegally parking in handicapped spaces.

PopCap Games, along with Information Solutions Group, surveyed more than 1,200 adult consumers across the U.S. and the UK, and found that 48 percent of players who admit to using a hack, bot, or cheat in a social game also admit to cheating in some way in real life -- for non-cheaters, that number drops to just 14 percent.

PopCap revealed that among those who admit to cheating in social games, 53 percent admit to cheating on tests at school, 51 percent report illegally parking in handicapped spaces, and 49 percent claimed to have cheated within a committed relationship.

In addition, 58 percent of social game cheaters in the UK admitted to cheating on their taxes, compared to just 33 percent for U.S. cheaters.

The report also said that 118 million people play social games regularly across the U.S. and the UK, and 7 percent of U.S. players admitted to cheating while playing these games, while 11 percent admit to doing so in the UK.

"It's not surprising that online cheating parallels real-world cheating, even if people are just experimenting with the possibilities," said Dr. Mia Consalvo of Concordia University. "With more of our daily systems and processes moving online, and being divorced from human contact (downloading music, filing taxes online) the risks either appear to be lesser, or they don't feel like crimes."

The full report from PopCap and Information Solutions Group is available for download here [PDF].

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Alan Winthrop
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Doesn't this just show correlation between those who admit to cheating in social games and those who admit to cheating in real life?

Gregory Fuller
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Indeed. In fact it could be the other way around -- those who won't even admit to cheating in video games are even less likely to admit to cheating on more important issues.

Really a pretty worthless study overall.

Will Ooi
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Immediately, there are several issues with this study (and interpretation of its results). The wording of "those who cheat while playing social games are nearly 3.5 times more likely to be dishonest in the real world than non-cheaters" - runs the risk of suggesting that these games predetermine cheating behaviour. This brings up the chicken-or-egg conundrum similar to the violence & games debate: do people who cheat in real life then cheat in games, or vice versa?

Then there's the problem of relying on survey responses, because even if there was a question along the lines of "if you cheat in games, will you then cheat in real life", we can never be sure that users have answered honestly (and you'd think if the question was about behaviour that's frowned upon, people wouldn't), nor are we able to fully know that they did actually cheat in real life as a result of in-game behaviour later on in the future unless they've been adequately (but perhaps unethically) followed up.

Will Ooi
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Ah no worries, I probably read too much into it and stand corrected!

Michael Joseph
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Isn't there a rise of all kinds of cheating in the last 20 - 30 years?

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