The Cheater’s Bread and Butter: lag switches

Posted on August 12, 2010


You have him in your sight, having lined up the shot perfectly. You’ve done this millions of times before. It should be an instant kill; after all, you’re an excellent shot. His player goes stationary–you pull the trigger and it’s a direct hit. But he doesn’t die. Instead, you die, and he runs off.

This is a lag switch

This is a scenario millions of players face every day, victims of ‘lag switches.’ These little bits of hardware interrupt the flow of local traffic, causing a delay from their system to the network. This temporary blocking of the signal made him appear frozen to you, and allowed him to move out of the way of your shot and instead kill you. A good comparison would be the bullet time effect in Max Payne.

It’s a little sad that some people feel the need to purchase special equipment specifically designed to let them cheat easier. However, it’s not necessarily a new thing. Turbo controllers, modding, Game Genies, the Konami Code– all of this stuff helped gamers who couldn’t cope with the admittedly high level of difficulty of the SNES/NES/GENESIS eras of gaming. However, there’s one big difference: these devices would help you cheat the computer, while the lag switch helps you cheat other players. Anyone that needs to win in a match of Counter-Strike this badly needs to get a life, pronto.

Contact whoever runs the servers you’re playing on if you see behavior of this kind happening. It’s a huge problem in online games, and needs to be eradicated.

Check this video out to see what a lag switch looks like.

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