FAQ for Policing Online Games

Q: Do online games really need policing?

A: Oh yes. Cheating is common in some circles and rarer in others. Skilled hackers are writing new cheating tools every day.

Q: But isn't cheating part of the fun?

A: In a way it is. In some cases, writing a good, clever cheat is more fun than actually playing the game. But this fun can spoil the game for everyone else. Even if everyone is honest, the losers will always be tempted to blame their loss on cheating.

Q: How does the book help?

A: The book describes how to  remove many of the temptations. It shows, for instance, how people can shuffle and deal cards without trusting anyone. There's no central server and no way for the players to cheat each other. There are dozens of other algorithms that show how game designers can stop cheaters before the cheaters ever begin. Everyone can concentrate on the games.

Q: How?

A: The algorithms use some pretty standard codes and ciphers to scramble the cards. After the arithmetic is finished, everyone is only allowed to follow the rules.

Q: Are the solutions limited to card games?

A: No. There are 18 different chapters and each of them tackles a small problem faced by some corner of the gaming world. Some deal with problems of the massively multiplayer world. Some deal with the shooting games.

Q: Do you solve everything?

A: Oh, no.

Q: Who should read the book?

A: Game designers, game architects, and anyone else nterested in keeping things safe and secure in the digital realms.

Q: Any digital world?

A: Well, the game world and the real world tends to blur. Many of the algorithms in this book were orginally developed for transaction in cyberspace. The same micropayment tool for purchasing widgets from some online merchant can also be used in some multiplayer dungeon to buy +5 platemail from a master blacksmith.

Q: There's a wide range of algorithms?

A: Cryptography researchers have produced a wide range of algorithms for solving problems. This book is an attempt to evangelize the topic and bring some of the algorithms to the attention of the gaming world.

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