Confession Of An Older, Wiser Gamer

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!

Image: Steam


    Haha, I remember button-mashing my way into Starcraft when me and some buddies had a LAN one time.

    I don't think I brute forced any gaming related things in my youth except the quiz that tries to verify your age when loading Leisure Suit Larry.

      There was a key combination you could press to bypass the quiz... I don't remember what it was now though!

    i remember a cd key that worked for most of the old microsoft games.

    Buying avatar the last air bender and returning it straight after I got all the achievements. Can't believe I ever cared that much about my gamerscore

    My cousin hooked me up when I was younger. He would give me the floppy and photocopy the manual so I could pass the "What is the first word on page 16, paragraph 7?" copy protection of the day.

    I think the most notable instance of something like this was how we got past the DRM on Stunts. It was back in the day when they had creative things like getting you to type in a word from the instruction book to prove you owned it. Thing is, the game would give you most of a sentence and have one word blanked out with the exact number of characters indicated by underscores. Using the context of the sentence and number of characters, you could easily guess what the word was. We'd also write them down because there was a fixed number of checks that it selected from.

    You could also do this with the Prince of Persia DRM as well, though the "prince megahit" cheat was also useful for bypassing it.

    This comment was deemed inappropriate? Why, for stating the article is a public confession of obtaining financial advantage by deception, an indictable offence whose statute of limitation has not expired. Maybe instead of mindless censorship, retract the article.

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