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The Sunday Reader - Issue 3: Ethical Gaming part 1

eth-i-cal [eth-i-kuhl]
     Being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct.

gam-ing [gey-ming]
     A competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of one or more persons who play according to a set of rules.

In a way, "ethical gaming" is slightly redundant. When you play by the rules then you're playing by the standards for right conduct. In other words, you're playing fair. You aren't tying a runner's shoes together or injecting a boxer's gloves with mercury. (I saw that one on CSI. ^_^)

All things being equal, people win or lose based on a combination of skill and luck. Regrettably, some people want to win, no matter what the cost is to others. That's part of what we're going to look at today: a common method of cheating and how it affects everyone else.

But first off, it's important for you to understand that the sites we play and enjoy are actually businesses.

Gaming is a Business

When I sit at my computer playing Poppit! at Pogo it's easy to feel like I'm the only one around. I can't see the people working to keep the website up. I can't see the people spending hours upon hours making new games for me to try. I can't see the customer support people sorting through hundreds of queries every day.

All I see is the game. And since I don't see the people involved in the process, I don't think about them. Pogo is just one giant entity in my mind. It's like the blob. ^_^

The truth is that the game sites we enjoy depend on us for their income. Here is an incredibly simplistic graph to show you what I mean.

Remove any part of the cycle and the whole thing falls apart. Without income the site will crumble. If that's too altruistic for you, how about this. ^_^ Less income for them means fewer prizes for you!

Now that we've got that covered, let's tackle the next bit.

What You Agreed To

Whenever you make an account on a game site you have to agree to their Terms of Service. It's the huge wall of text that you probably looked at, choked, and then clicked the button to say that you read it.

Look familiar?

There are 6 more pages of that for iWon's Terms of Service! Is it any wonder that most of us don't read these things?

The downside is that once you say you've read it, you can't plead ignorance if you get caught breaking their rules. So I dug through the terms of service for all twelve game sites listed in the sidebar and searched for some common rules. You can thank me by sharing my site with everyone you know. ^_~ (No gifts of fruitcake, please!!)

Among other things, you agreed that:
  • You are responsible for everything that happens on your account.
  • You will not cheat or give yourself an unfair advantage.
  • You will not use programs or hacks to manipulate the games.
And much much more. If you get caught breaking these rules, they will close your account. Heck, most of the terms of service state that they can close your account for any reason. So don't give them a reason to want you out of there. ^_^

Also, if you play one of seven sites, you agreed that you would make only one account. Many people think that it's a "victimless" crime to have multiple accounts on the same site, but this isn't true.

Multiple Accounts

If a site says "one account per person," they mean one account per person. Not one per email. Not one per imaginary friend. One account per actual still-alive-and-not-in-a-coma person. Sites have this rule because they want everyone to have an equal chance.

Are you biting your thumb and wondering if you unknowingly broke this rule? ^_^ Well here's the list of sites that allow only one account per person. Included is a brief explanation as to why it's limited.
  • Club Bing - Earn prizes with tickets. Some games have a daily ticket limit.
  • FreeSlots - Limited sweeps entries. (10 per person per day.)
  • Gamesville – Eases customer service issues and simplifies tax stuff. (Read more.)
  • GSNOodles - Earn prizes. Play daily trivia to earn extra Oodles.
  • KadoKado - Get 4 free game plays each day.
  • Spigo - 6 daily scratch cards with prizes up to $200
  • Winster - Earn prizes. Get 200 free spins each day.
You can see how using multiple accounts would give someone an unfair advantage. On Spigo alone they would double their chances of winning money! That's why these sites have the "one account per person" rule in the first place; they want the games to be fair.

Some people think they're being clever and say, "Well I don't do that! I just play my family's accounts for them because they're busy. It's still one account per person!"


If you are playing more than one account when a site says "one per person," then you are cheating. You are literally stealing from them. In addition to being illegal, this is against the freeple code of ethics and is seriously uncool.

Sites like KadoKado and Winster limit the number of free plays because they want you to buy more gems/spins. KadoKado in particular has zero ads, which means that their only source of income is from people buying more gems.

Think of free samples in a grocery store. They're available because the store wants to encourage you to buy the full product, right? They don't want you to pick up the entire sample tray of pita chips (with hummus) and walk off with a free meal!

By using multiple accounts at KadoKado and Winster, you're essentially saying, "You know, I really like your site and I want to keep playing. But dangit, I don't want to pay for it. Let me just grab another sample account."

In addition, KadoKado, Winster, Club Bing, and GSNOodles are all sites where you play to earn prizes. They have to keep everything balanced. You see, every game site has a budget for what they can afford to give away. (AND for paying their employees. Don't forget that part!) I think we can agree that one person seeing the same ads four times is not the same as four people looking at ads. Using multiple accounts negatively affects their advertising revenue, because you simply aren't multiple people.

And remember that graph at the top? Less income means they can't pay as many staff members, which means game updates will become less frequent. If they want to keep all of their staff members, then they may have to change how prizes work.

Oh, and if you get caught using multiple accounts you will lose all of the accounts and forfeit any prizes you may have won. Yes, this means they have the legal right to take back any prizes you gathered from cheating. So not only are you forever banned from playing games, you also lost the prizes too. Sounds like a great risk, doesn't it?

When a site says "one account per person," they say it for a reason. They're trying to maintain a balance between revenue and prizes, and also keep the game fair to everyone.

This is only the first discussion on ethical gaming. Parts 2 and 3 will be posted in future issues of The Sunday Reader. (I feel like I should be wearing a velvet bathrobe, sitting in a formal armchair and smoking a pipe.)

I realize that some people may disagree with what I've said. All debate is welcomed, but you must keep things civil. Any posts that insult me or another commenter will go bye-bye. ^_^


    Updated on Nov 10th, 2010, to include Gamesville’s new policy.


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