Forums  /  Speedrunning  /  Cheating in Speedrunning

Hey guys,

I am currently writing an articel about the history of cheating in speedrunning form a smal german games-magazine. Therefor I would be interesseted in any informations you may have about this topic?
Do you know of any relevant cases of cheating in speedrunning? Of any relevant rulings in communities to prevent illegitimate runs? For example: Which community was the first to introduce controller-camers as mandatory to verify, that the sent-in-video isn't TAS? Anything about cheating in speedrunning would be really useful.

I already researched myself and found videos of Apollo Legend, RWhiteGoose, retro and so on, but maybe the collectiv wisdom of the speedrun-communtiy can help me a little bit.

And lastly, pls excuse my bad english.



Which community was the first to introduce controller-camers as mandatory to verify, that the sent-in-video isn't TAS?

No community has ever done this to my knowledge so I’m not entirely sure what you’re talking about with this.

Most communities don’t have crazy rules to prevent cheating, they have just learned to recognize when some things look out of place. There have been some communities that have put in stricter emulator rules such as requiring people to show emulator version, FPS, and controller mappings at the end of a run to verify nothing was mis-configured.

Really though, cheating in this hobby has been overblown - it’s nowhere near as big an issue as the YouTubers you mentioned have made casual viewers believe. Their videos are all very click bait like and try to make everyone believe that cheating is a huge issue in speedrunning, but the reality is that it happens very infrequently and is usually very easy to spot.

MylesMcCrone, 6oliath and 8 others like this. 

Yeah, controller cams are more for special condition runs such as one handed, or that one guy who speedruns games with a dancepad. The only anti cheating rules apart from the classic “no vid, no did” that I’ve really seen is the emulator rules that @Timmiluvs mentioned. On emulators that have TAS features, there are usually indications on TAS movies that it is indeed a movie. Sometimes, emulators have something that says “movie not playing” or something of the sort. I also agree with the overblown thing on YouTube and stuff, it’s not that prevalent as they make it sound.

blueYOSHI and NihilistComedyHour like this. 

What tim said, cheating, while it does happen, is really overblown.

TheKombatKing likes this. 

Oh, I am so sorry, I thought there is a controller-cam rule for Yoshi's Island Any%, but I was wrong.
And I am not interessted in specific singular events, but rather how cheating and counter-cheating-rules evolved over time.
For example, when was it, that a video-proof became mandatory and how is this intertwined with technological progress. At a time, where there weren't any viable options of screen-capturing, how did they act against cheaters and false times?
I hope that you get what I'm looking for and thank you for your input.


There were strict rules for all games back when speedrun leaderboards were listed on Twingalaxies or other sites, however on each game has their own rules, there are no global rules here so each game handles anti-cheating differently.
Usually it's just that games don't accept runs without a video and that emulators require other stuff like showing FPS (as already been mentioned earlier).

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For example: Which community was the first to introduce controller-camers as mandatory to verify, that the sent-in-video isn't TAS?

There is no such community, but not sure how this would verify a run isn't TAS. Just like streaming a run live doesn't prove it isn't pre-recorded/spliced.

Video Proof on the other hand is a mandatory requirement for the most part because the record itself is the video, not the time. Not because of standards surrounding cheating or anything, but because it's only logical that if you claim to have done something then proof others can see and also possibly dispute if the claim is bogus is required.

blueYOSHI likes this. 

To add on to that, video proof wasn’t required in the very early days of speedrunning, picture proof and just the plain old honor system were used. But these were times when speedrunning didn’t attract thousands of people, and it was more of a niche thing, so (correct me if I’m wrong) video proof was inducted when speedrunning became popular in the late 90s and early 2000s when technology for cameras and capture devices became more advanced. I’m no expert on the subject by any means, but it’s a fun discussion to have.


@Naxed "how cheating and counter-cheating-rules evolved over time"

I don't think cheating itself has really "evolved" in any meaningful way. Splicing or using TAS tools to fake runs has been done for years and hasn't really changed at all in that time. Counter-cheating rules or techniques are usually very different for different games and communities, so there isn't really a global progression for it in speedrunning as a whole.

blueYOSHI likes this. 

A lot of the stuff currently out there on cheating has a lot of hate in it, so take it all with an appropriate amount of salt. (Ironically, most of the content you mentioned looking at for research contains a LOT of salt.)

You've probably picked up on this, because just about every post above brings it up, but from what I've seen, cheating is not a common issue at all. It's not that there aren't cheaters out there, but cheating doesn't appeal to the type of people that join (and stay) with this community. We tend to be motivated by doing our best, where cheaters tend to be motivated by other people's praise.

When it does happen, it's usually done in the same, predictable manner thinking it's "clever". They appear out of nowhere with an amazing time or performance, but there's always something off about it. Sometimes it's immediately obvious; sometimes it just looks fishy and it takes a week of watching it to figure out why.

The problem with this is that most moderators know their games inside and out. We've pushed the game to its limits and tried all sorts of things with it; things most people have never though of even trying. (Who even thinks of pouring forest water on Kalle Demos?) We know the odds of something happening and we know how difficult certain maneuvers are. We know how long the cutscenes and loading screens are (sometimes to the millisecond or more), even if we haven't timed them simply because we've sat through them so many times that it's nearly muscle memory.

The cheater will solidly defend his or her run as we try to figure out what that person did different, not because we want to prove the run was cheated, but because we all want to improve our times too. The controller cams and on-screen keyboards aren't there to prove the run isn't cheated; it's there to show everyone else how to do some of the things we're doing or to catch the precise inputs we made if something cool happens that we want to repeat later.

At some point during this process, the cheater realizes that we know a lot more about the game than he or she first realized. As we hone in on the part where the cheating took place, the defensive attitude evolves into making excuses ("I didn't have the right emulator settings", "my recording device messed up", "well I've always played it like this, so…", "I didn't know the rules..", etc.

Now, sometimes there are people who legitimately don't know the rules (and it's better to assume that is the case every time), but cheaters tend to take it personally when we can point out specifically where the run is off from the expectation. We're singling that run out or we're ganging up on him or her because we're jealous. Not that this kind of thing doesn't happen- it does- but that's the pattern.

So the result is that the cheater will either stick around and start to learn that he or she never had to cheat in the first place, or the cheater will storm off and we'll never see that person again. The community is better off either way.

If you are going to write an article about the history of cheating, I'd request that you also research about why cheating occurs and how infrequently it happens (you just don't hear stories about all the legitimate runs being submitted all the time). There's not a lot of cheating around here, because we don't really keep score. There are those that do, for sure, but it tends to be less of a "me vs you" and more of a "me + you vs. the game".

TL;DR: Most of us are aware that we are adults playing video games. We don't cheat because being "the best" is not really that important (nobody's perfect) and we don't take ourselves that seriously, because life's short and tough and we're trying to make the best of it. It's not about the times; it's about the community.

blueYOSHI, drybloxman and DoctorDave5001 like this. 

Hey @Naxed, I'm a mobile and web game moderator that founded the Mobile Speedrunning Discord (nearing on 200 members!). On every game I moderate, you will see something close to this in my rules:

"To be verified, your runs should include video with audio, as well as a timer in one corner for accuracy. See the forum for software to record and time your run, as runs recorded with an external video camera will not be verified."

Before anyone throws shade at me (because it always happens) -- video, audio, and timers are all free and very easy to work with on mobile on web. I help every new user learn how to do it correctly the first time and take individual considerations into account. I often encourage users to join my Discord so I can communicate with them directly and work with them until they understand the tools enough to submit a run correctly.

Rule standardization prevents cheating, for multiple reasons:
- All runs are under the same standard, so they are judged fairly under the same criteria.
- Video recordings provide baseline proof and are the greatest deterrent of cheating. I never allow screenshot proof.
- Audio recordings help to detect splicing (joining parts of different videos).
- Timers can be used to detect cheating, but they are more for ensuring accurate timing.
- The external camera ban ensures quality and motivates users to learn how to use easy, free software to record.

If you have any follow-up questions, ask me on the Mobile Speedrunning Discord!

TheGreatToddman and Dracaarys like this. 

Requiring timer... Big OOF

SpiderHako, 6oliath and blueYOSHI like this. 


Timers can be used to detect cheating, but they are more for ensuring accurate timing

Liking timers is fine, but this sentence is giving them a little too much credit. Timers can’t detect cheating unless the person cheating is an actual moron. Playing back a spliced video next to a timer is stupid simple and the timer won’t reveal anything indicating it’s not an actual run.

The same goes for verifying accuracy. While it can kinda aid in showing a run starting and stopping at the right time, video time stamps can do the same thing. Timers are nice, but they are really only for viewers, they don’t do much in terms of verifying runs. There are many other more reliable ways to verify runs for accuracy.

SpiderHako, NihilistComedyHour and 4 others like this. 

You said you get a lot of shade. I think it's because you're way outside the norm on enforcement of video timers for RTA. From my understanding, you're fully aware of this, and you'll hold firm on it. I'm going to try to keep an open mind here. I didn't really want to comment on your practices but honestly you did a nice write up of your rationale so going with the flow of this topic's conversation I gotta put my word in. Can't help it. Sorry OP.

I commend you for making yourself available, Oxknifer, to any new runners who need help complying with your rigid rules, even if they aren't in line with most of the other communities. That takes dedication. Maybe you can add a message to that effect right in your standard rules script.

In the past, admins and full mods have intervened in this type of situation, as you might know. So it's good that you at least say you take personal considerations of runners into account. I hope that means that if a brand new runner didn't comply, but they acted in good faith, and they plan to improve, then maybe you let that run sit on the leaderboards for a couple weeks while they try to PB with a compliant video. Or something to that effect.

Interestingly, enforcing strict rules probably gives a beneficial amount of structure and a certain decorum to the web and mobile games you're responsible for, and I think you're counteracting the silliness that goes with that type of game. Whether that's your intention or not, maybe it helps keep meme submissions away.

If it works for you, that's great.

I'll echo the cautions of the posters above me and say that a timer on the run video for RTA can be seen as an unwise verification shortcut. But if you're as committed as you say you are, then I hope you can keep it up.

There's no reason an experienced runner can't add a live timer. Conversely, there's no reason an experienced runner can't add a timer in post, edited into the video, completely unlinked to the run and worse than useless for verification purposes.

@Naxed you can see that people get really passionate about our hobby. That's the nature of hobbies.
Watch out for bias in the videos you referenced. The creators straight up call one guy a "filthy cheater", while in the same breath, make excuses for another cheater, to the effect of "well he admitted it when he was caught so it's ok". If you're writing a serious article, treat those videos as semi-researched opinions.

Oxknifer likes this. 

@Timmiluvs true, that was a stretch. But I was mostly considering IGT for detecting cheating.

@6oliath, thanks for the open-minded response, you pretty much hit the target on everything. Cheers for considering everything I said 😃
As for the unwise verification shortcut, I think many outside users might see it that way. But mobile and web gamers know just how easy it is to play with or add in a timer, so it's best to teach people the right way the first time. And teaching takes time -- it's not much of a shortcut if you consider the time I put in to ensure players know/can use the resources I've found for them.


@Oxknifer but in ur posts you know kindle users have to add a timer in editing software which to me defeats the point. I wish it had a resource like android or ios but I don't think telling users to add a timer in shotcut is the best thing even if it is easy. 🙂 Would be nice if something could be made? But idk ^^