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Background. Given the widespread popularity of video gameplay among adolescents, it is important to understand the relationship between video gameplay and adolescent behaviors in various contexts.

Aim. This exploratory study aimed to explore adolescent gamers use of player guides and cheat codes during video gameplay in order to understand how they reason about the relationship between cheating in video games and cheating in academic settings.

Method. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with adolescents in order to gain in-depth insight into participants’ perspectives on video gameplay and their perceptions of cheating in video games and academic settings. Interview data was coded and qualitatively analyzed to identify patterns and key emergent themes.

Results. Findings from this exploratory study highlight seemingly contradictory views on cheating among adolescents. On the one hand, participants viewed player guides, cheat codes, and other forms of gameplay resources as simply part of the overall gaming experience. They did not view this type of assistance as cheating. On the other hand, participants viewed unsanctioned assistance and taking others’ ideas as their own as cheating within academic settings.

Conclusion. As findings from this study suggest, understanding how student navigate video gameplay may provide much needed insight into providing effective supports and tools in academic contexts. Findings from this research can inform the development of more effective approaches to address cheating in academic settings, including the integration of study guides, student-created aids and guides and additional materials as part of an effective support system.


This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Simulation & Gaming, volume 49, issue 2, in 2018 following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at DOI:10.1177/1046878118757008

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