Cheating to win is fun in video and social games. Many smartphone applications offer "cheats" for solving word games and the like. Your fake prowess will amaze friends -- or enrage them.
There's no better way to prove the grudging acceptability of a little cheating than to see the profusion of "cheats" apps in the Android Market and App Store. Cheats for The Sims, for Call of Duty, for Farmville.
An app called Ultimate Cheats, by Digital Hot Sauce, is $1.99 for iPhone in the App Store. It has Android analogues such as Cheat-Database by E-Nature and Game Cheats by Digital Madhouse.
Ultimate Cheats claims a large database of codes and other shortcuts to victory for use on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii, and for "essentially every game available." I can't say whether that's so, but it does have a vast list, and at least a pointer or two for rapid advancement in each game.
Or, let's say you're on the smartphone and you get stumped while playing Hanging with Friends, Zynga's social game that took its cue from the old-fashioned hangman word game.
It's time, of course, to cheat.
One helper for Hanging with Friends is the 99-cent app Hanging with Cheats for Friends (which is simply labeled "Best Cheat!" in the Apple App Store), from Shawn Hitchcock.
Solve a hangman-style word problem by entering any known letters, with spaces for the missing letters, and you get the answer or a selection of possible answers. When it's your turn to try to stump an opponent, enter a scramble of letters and you'll get a list of words that can be made from them.
Don't recognize one of the word choices, such as trifid? Tap it and the app retrieves a web definition.
As you might expect, there are cheats for all sorts of games, including Zynga's Words with Friends and Electronic Arts Inc.'s Scrabble, which itself has free and paid versions.
Cheats with Words, 99 cents from Dragonsaurus, has detailed instructions for taking screen shots of Scrabble-like games you are playing on your phone. You'll import the images into the app, which then displays board-placement possibilities with your available letters. You can choose among options for gaining most points or for using specific letters, a few letters, or all your letters.
Is it fair? Only if winning is everything.
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