Degenerate Strategies and Cheating

Why isn't using a degenerate strategy considered cheating? Degenerate strategies take advantage of weaknesses in the rules of a game, but do not actually violate the rules. What kind of player would play in this way? The answer is both a dedicated player, who is overzealously seeking the perfect strategy, and an unsportsmanlike player, who has found a hole in the rules to exploit, even though he understands that he is not playing the game the way it was intended. These two kinds of players can both make use of degenerate strategies, depending on the context.

The difference between a dedicated player and an unsportsmanlike player is the degree to which the player subscribes to the lusory attitude. Dedicated players follow rules on all levels. Unsportsmanlike players follow the operational rules, but they do not follow all of the implicit ones. Dedicated players loyally uphold the magic circle of a game, but unsportsmanlike players fail to do so, occasionally stepping just outside its borders in order to bend the rules.

Often, whether or not a degenerate strategy is a "proper" way to play depends on how the game experience is framed. When it was discovered that Pac-Man could be played by memorizing patterns of movement instead of through improvisational moment-to-moment tactics, player reaction fell into two camps. Some frowned on using memorized play patterns as a violation of the spirit of the game. Other players, however, capitalized on patterns in order to get higher scores. These pattern players did not consider themselves to be unsportsmanlike at all: they saw themselves as dedicated players who had simply found a better (and more demanding) way to play the game.


Is the same true of memorizing algorithms to solve the rubiks cube?

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 Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Salen, Katie (2003925), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: games game design gameplay