Last Wednesday night, I played Mario Kart 64. For those of you who do not know Mario Kart 64 is a cornerstone of most 90’s children’s childhood. It was certainly apart of mine, and while I am by no means a video game junkie (as our professors wife seems to be) I do enjoy playing them, even one’s this old.
However this time around, the race was different. Mid race my friend seemed to take an illegal shortcut that I didn’t remember.
Not only did he cheat me, but he seemed to cheat some memory of my childhood by taking advantage of a glitch in the game.
I protested to which my friend responded, “tough luck, man.” And proceed to beat me in the race.
My friend argued that sometimes you have to play a little dirty if you want to win, and if he was a bit more like Machiavelli would say, “That there are two ways of contending, one in accordance with the laws, the other by force; the first of which is proper to men, the second to beasts.” In layman’s terms that, people should be both beasts and men, both cheat and play by the rules. This is exactly what my friend was doing, albeit he wasn’t very sneaky, or “skilful in feigning and dissembling,” as Machiavelli suggest. But the fact still reminded that he was playing within the rules most of the time, cheating at select moments, and getting away with it.
When dealing with something as nostalgic as Mario Kart, I had to disagree with my friends actions and Machiavelli’s advice. Would you cheat in Candy Land or skip ahead in your favorite childhood movie just to see the ending? Didn’t think so. You would play all of Candy Land and watch all of The Lion King, because you don’t play Candy Land or watch The Lion King for the pure purpose of winning or seeing the ending; you do it because it reminds you of something you had long forgotten you once enjoyed.
Along these lines I wasn’t playing Mario Kart not to win but just for the fun of it. Yet my friend seemed to relish the in the glory of winning a video game and would do so by any means necessary even if it meant tarnishing his childhood memory by cheating.
Since then I have been wondering, are there things that we deem sacred enough not to cheat? Even if we could get away with it, would we be disciplined and not? Or is cheating so engrained in us that the memory of our childhood can be cheated for the pure purpose of winning a game? Where do we draw the line on what is moral to cheat and what is not?