Game Design Issues: Cheating in Pokemon

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As someone who is trying to get back into the competitive Pokémon game, I am concerned about the amount of cheating that is at least perceived to run rampant in the competitive Pokémon community. I say perceived, as I am unsure as to how frequently cheating occurs, and have no idea of how to verify the actual numbers. That being said, I will go over the unique issues in Pokémon that make cheating sound more appealing than it should, and will supply a guide for those who wish to play the game without cheating.

I understand that this issue may be controversial, at least within the Pokémon community. My purpose for writing this article is to shine some light on the issue, and to help players see how they can play the game and be on the same level as cheaters. I also will try to point out game design tools and concepts that could help limit cheating so that developers of similar games don’t make the same mistakes that the Pokémon games made. If the Pokémon company uses similar ideas in future games, then the games will be all the better for it.

This article will cover the following topics, and which page they will be on:

  • What is cheating in Pokémon? (Page 1)
  • What isn’t cheating in Pokémon? (Page 1)
  • Why is cheating common in Pokémon? (Page 2)
  • How not to cheat in Pokémon (Page 3)
  • How to detect cheating in Pokémon (Page 4)
  • How to limit cheating in Pokémon (Page 5)

Please note, that most of the content in this article applies to Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon versions. Things may change for better or worse in Pokémon Sword and Shield, which will be released in about a month from this article’s writing. The methods used may not apply in the new games, or may be improved upon in some way. A follow up article will be written once all is known about Sword and Shield’s systems.

What is cheating in Pokémon?

Cheating in Pokémon (and in video games in general) is using a device or program to alter game data to gain an advantage not normally possible within the systems provided in the game in question. Most of the time, cheating in Pokémon is used to gain the best possible version of a Pokémon faster than anyone else does. This will be explained later in the article, and isn’t allowed in official tournaments. Incidentally, I have no idea how often players get caught doing this, or how tournament organizers can detect this. I also do not know the ways players cheat, and I wouldn’t encourage this even if I did know how it is done.

What isn’t cheating in Pokémon? 

If you are using all the game’s built in systems (except glitches) to get the version of the Pokémon you want, then you aren’t cheating. This can include resetting the game if you don’t find the version of the desired Pokémon until you get the one you want. Pretty much, if you are playing by the rules, you aren’t cheating.

Go to page 2 for why cheating is common in Pokemon.

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