You Want Some Cheese With That?

Operation SportsCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2008

Cheese is one of those things that goes great with just about anything. The problem is, it doesn’t go great with video games.

Put some cheese next to one of those next-gen consoles and it will be melted almost instantaneously by a fire-breathing PS3 or Xbox 360.

Sports gamers everywhere would also attest that cheese doesn’t go great with video game football. The exploiting of a game’s engine and/or doing things that real teams wouldn’t do are what many in the community call "cheese".

The problem is, what if the real-life counterparts break the video game code of being a straight player?

Ever since the days of Tecmo Super Bowl, people have found ways to exploit the engine of the game they were playing, and as such, had an edge over the straight players. Far too often a player will throw the ball deep on every play or check down to the running back to exploit the coverage not getting into the backfield fast enough.

Just as often, a player will constantly break the pocket with the quarterback even when there's no defensive pressure.

Therein lies the problem, though. Oregon is a perfect example of why the line has been blurring to such a large degree. Think back to last season’s performances by Dennis Dixon and how often the Ducks’ plays had him scrambling out of the pocket before looking to release the pass.

So if someone is Oregon in a video game, would that still be cheese or merely an emulation of how Oregon plays?

It’s not just playcalling though. I recently saw a thread on MaddenMania’s forums about putting Champ Bailey as a backup wide receiver in an online game. It can’t be cheese if it’s been done in real life, right? Or maybe the real-life team is the real cheeser?

The debate in the thread raged on for many pages as users argued whether or not the aforementioned gamer had in fact cheesed or was merely using a legitimate strategy.

The general consensus was that so long as he was only moved into a backup role where he only came in when the players ahead of him got tired, it was all right. That said, who even really defines the exploitation of a player’s ability to play multiple positions?

In reality, the issue of cheese and exploitation of video games traces back as far as the eye can see with video games.

NHL 94 is possibly best known for its exploit: tearing down the left side of the rink only to cut across at the hash marks and fire a shot was almost always an assured goal. Top that off with NHL 96 and the similar success of the wraparound.

Think back to the days of Street Fighter 2 in the arcades. I remember walking up to the machine on many occasions, only to hear people complain that using Ryu’s Hadouken over and over again was cheap and unfair. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be.

That very sentiment defines the argument against cheese. Cheese is not so much an issue of a specific set of rules, so much as an unwritten rule—a code of sorts.

The great thing about having forums where players can congregate is that as certain plays are introduced that alter the way a game is played, the community can follow up by adaptin its code to the new and until-then-undiscovered way of doing things.

Of course, this code is not perfect. The very fact that it is an unwritten agreement gives way to that same complaining when a person can’t figure out coverage schemes. Usually, the community figures this out as things go and adjusts accordingly.

If someone is predisposed to complain when he or she loses, not a lot will change it. People are extremely competitive and look for some reason, any reason, why the loss was not their fault. Sometimes they end up right, but more often it turns out to be their own mistakes doing them in.

I want to hear what you guys think. What do you define as cheesing? I want to know how you define it and how you think the community has done at keeping the less desirable plays and substitutions out of the online game.

This article was written by Erik Westfall for Operation Sports.  Operation Sports is the Internet's leading sports video games resource.