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Should We Stop Publicising Cheating in Airsoft?

Man with airsoft gun

Unfortunately, like many other sports, cheating occurs in airsoft. As much as it pains us to admit, players, both new and experienced, bend, ignore, and break the rules of gameplay for their or their team’s benefit. Thankfully, and we’d like to make this clear, it is a meagre amount of people that commit these crimes, and the sport is certainly not ‘rife’ with cheating. That being said, it is a frequently talked about topic of conversation within the community. Rather than shying away from this topic, we’d like to open up the conversation and present our own opinion.

This particular article focuses on the filming and publishing of content that shows cheating players in the sport. Typically, this kind of content can be found on YouTube, along with airsoft groups and forums on social media. To clarify, when we say ‘cheater’, typically we mean someone that isn’t calling their hits. There are other ways for players to cheat the game and the system, but we think this is the most commonly experienced and talked about.

Cheating in General

Man in woods playing airsoft

Regardless of whether you’re filming your gameplay for publishing online, to show your friends, or not filming at all, playing with a cheating player is not a fun experience. Not only does it go against the spirit of the game, but also can have a major impact on the overall result; something some of us take more seriously than others. It’s also worth noting that many cheating players aren’t necessarily regulars to the site. As airsoft is a community-built sport, regular offenders can quickly be dispatched from the circle of trust and cast out into the cold, wet puddle of embarrassment.

The confounding thing with cheating players is that there isn’t really much of an incentive in the overall big picture. The main incentives for those players who purposefully ignore the rules are three things. The first is the results, either of that game, that day, or a general leaderboard that is kept at the site. This is generally done for the ‘benefit’ of the player and the team. That being said, just one or two people cheating on that specific day has a fairly minimal impact overall, which means that mostly, it is done in vain. Secondly, there is the vanity aspect. More experienced players could possibly feel that they are above the quality of other opposition, leading them to ignore a hit every now and then; as not to impact on their own K/D ratio. Finally, there is the sole personal benefit that comes from cheating, this is more game time and less time spent in the spawn zone or walking back to it. If a player is behind enemy lines and gets one hit, they may choose to ignore this as their position is almost too good to give up.

What often confuses us is the risk that cheating players take when committing this cardinal sin. For players playing at their regular site, they risk being kicked off that day or banned entirely, surely that’s not something worth risking?

Cheater Video Content

YouTube Search Results Airsoft

This is an entirely different ball game, specifically when uploaded to a social media platform. It’s especially telling when the fourth-highest search suggestion when searching ‘airsoft’ on YouTube is ‘airsoft cheater’. This shameless popularity of cheater-based content is something that we’re not big fans of at Surplus Store, for a number of reasons:

The first and perhaps the most important reason is the first impression that new players get when researching the sport. For new people who haven’t had their first time on the field yet, YouTube and blogs (such as ours here) can be an excellent repository of information about the sport and what to expect. If, before they have even clicked on a video, they are seeing the word ‘airsoft’ paired with ‘cheater’, then this doesn’t create a great first impression. Even if, after just searching the word ‘airsoft’, they are then seeing cheater videos appear in the first ten options, this again does not give the best first impression. It can also present an imbalanced view of the sport. For example, if 10-20% of the first 20 video results show cheaters, people will begin to think it is a common daily occurrence on fields across the world, which simply isn’t the case.

Similarly, for players who publish this sort of content, it has the potential to give certain airsoft sites a bad reputation and an association with cheating players, even if this isn’t true. Although many airsoft YouTubers don’t tend to publicise their preferred sites, it can be obvious from watching which sites they play at, especially if you know the areas well.

Additionally, something we have talked about before in previous blog posts is the outsider perception of the sport. For many, airsoft is something of a marmite sport, they either don’t like it, like it or simply don’t know about it. Due to the nature of shooting people with replica guns, it’s hard to have a middle ground on the topic. This means that there are plenty of people ready and waiting to complain about it at the first sign of trouble. Unlike other sports, we don’t have a governing body to fight our corner, which means any bad press can do serious damage. On the flip side, it also means that everyone has the power to contribute to the sport and allow it to grow in an organic and beneficial way. We think it’s important not to give people the ammunition or the opportunity to put airsoft in their bad books, and cheater videos do that.

Managing Cheating Behaviour

Three soldiers walking through woodland

The initial reaction for many of us when we see someone not calling their hits is to shout in outrage at such violating behaviour. How dare they! It’s almost as bad as someone queue jumping at the supermarket! Side note: maybe if security guards in supermarkets had airsoft guns, people would queue jump less? Anyway, this is certainly not the ideal reaction, either for yourself or your team. As frustrating as it may be, and as much as we’re told it’s not good to ‘tell on people’, marshals are on-site for a reason.

The role of the airsoft marshal is to ensure that the game goes off without a hitch. This, among other things, involves dealing with any players that don’t conform to the rules of the site. When you see this sort of behaviour, let your nearest marshal know so that they can take appropriate action. It’s also important to consider the possibility that players haven’t called their hits for a valid reason, such as not being able to feel the BB through their kit. Often, especially in the winter, it’s vital to layer up, to protect against the elements. This means that BBs coming in from range don’t leave much of a trace. When running through branches and forests, a BB could easily be mistaken for part of the environment, rather than a hit. Also not everyone has their weapon range awareness; even amongst experience players. Several players (me amongst them) will remember having some people shout “Take your hits!” when the OpFor’s BBs are all landing about 10 metres short. A good marshal will be able to give you a fair judgement!

There are times when it is clear and obvious a player is ignoring their hits, running and gunning without a care in the world, while the other, more conscientious, players are calling each of their hits. However, as the honest player that you undoubtedly are, it’s important to stick to your guns and your morals; not to be dragged down by unruly players.

When choosing to film airsoft gameplay, and cheating players in general, we’re giving these players a platform on which to ‘perform’. Granted, having the video evidence to back up your case can be useful when talking to the marshal. But, how many cameras have good enough resolution to capture a 350FPS BB at 150 feet? In close quarters, the camera will likely catch the action, but equally, the surprise, and often pain, of being hit close range will cause the player to involuntarily call their hit with a whelp or natural recoil.

In conclusion, we’re not huge advocates for the publication of videos on social media that centre around cheating players. In the long run, we think this will likely be damaging to the community as more and more people associate the sport of airsoft with the minuscule percentage of players who cheat. Granted, these are designed to be entertaining, and for the experienced player, they will know that it’s not an everyday occurrence. However, for the newer players that come to the sport, before they have even fired their first BB, they will have it in their minds that players cheat. For the community to continue to grow, this association needs to be cut, rather than strengthened.

We want to reinforce that this is just an opinion of ours, and something that we’d like to see your thoughts and comments on. Let us know what you think! Comment on Facebook or Twitter to join the conversation. You can also check out our blog for other tips, tricks and opinion articles on the sport of airsoft.

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