One of the many gifts youth provides is stupidity. Well, that's not quite right. Our younger selves didn't engage in certain activities because of a lack of intelligence... more a lack of wisdom. And a little bit of "I'll never get caught". I know I have a great many tales I've never shared with the population at large (or my close friends at small?), but for some reason I can't quite enunciate, I feel inclined today to share one.
Years ago, when I was still in high school, I remember the game of the moment being Return to Castle Wolfenstein. A friend had picked it up and being impressed by all the shooting (oh, how easy to please I was) and my mate's AMAZING audio setup (read: he had bass), I set out to make two purchases.
One, obviously, was RTCW. The other, a set of speakers with a subwoofer. The latter acquisition I could go into detail about, but I won't, mostly because there is no detail. RTCW, on the other hand...
So, I rocked up to my nearest EB Games and did the right thing — I purchased the game using my hard-earned dollars. I quickly returned home, cracked open the box and pulled out the CD case. As I was preparing to install the game, I noticed something wrong with the key.
Due to a printing error, the key was misaligned on the sticker, leaving the last letter or number lost in space and time. It was then I had a brilliant idea — I'd just brute-force the missing glyph and return the game for a full refund.
Turns out it took only a few attempts to get the key right and soon after, RTCW was happily installing away. A couple of days later I went back to EB, showed them the misprint and as you'd expect, a refund was easily sorted.
In the grand scheme of things, it's not a horrible crossing of an ethical line, but to my younger self, I'd gotten away with the world's most intricate scheme. I look back now and yeah, I don't have quite the same opinion.
On a related note, it is possible to brute-force, in the space of 5-10 minutes, a CD key for the original StarCraft by repeatedly mashing the keyboard with your hands until it accepted a code. I doubt you'd be able to play online with a key produced in such a fashion, but for teenagers, it was an, uh, affordable way to play over a LAN.
Have any gamer confessions you'd like to share? Please do!