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The Worst Cheating Incident In GTA's Entire History

Speedrunning has revolutionized the way that players enjoy games. Most video games give players a direct goal to achieve and then set fun and challenging roadblocks in their way. Speedrunners, on the other hand, create goals and roadblocks of their own. They take what was once the difficult completion of a game and turn it into an exercise in precision, timing, and forethought. As a genre of playthrough, speedrunning has grown considerably in popularity as a result of Games Done Quick's yearly conventions, which bring in huge amounts of viewers and money for charitable causes.

Despite the outward appearance of the speedrunning community as a wholesome collective of min/maxers, there is a shady side to this uber-competitive side of gaming. Chasing world records is no easy feat, and some of those who attempt to push these boundaries have ended up going too far. Just a few years ago, the speedrunning community was rocked by a scandal in the game franchise best-suited for shady gameplay: "Grand Theft Auto."

Speedrunning rules change over time

Before diving into the specifics of this "GTA" scandal, it is important to remember that speedrunning is a living and evolving genre. The variations within speedruns themselves have only grown over the past decade or so. 

What constitutes a "completed" run depends on what the runner is shooting for. Is the speedrunner shooting for full completion of the game? Maybe they are trying to reach the end credits as fast as possible with an any % run? Or maybe they are just trying to defeat all the bosses as fast as possible? Even IMDB is "speedrun-able," as Ludwig Ahgren proved when he challenged himself to click through the site as fast as possible.

Speedrunners focused on the "Grand Theft Auto" series have changed their rules in the past. Each community develops its own rule-set around certain types of speedruns, and these rules can be changed to respond to events or newly discovered exploits. This makes sense, because the entire essence of speedrunning is pushing the game to its ultimate limits. Every once in a while, a new limit is found and the rules have to be reshaped accordingly. And sometimes, a cheating scandal can change the way in which successful speedruns are judged, especially as those "new exploits" may come to light in less pretty ways.

Suspicion surrounds Anti_

The "Grand Theft Auto" speedrunning community is one of the more established in the scene, partially due to how old some of the games themselves are. "Grand Theft Auto 3," released all the way back in 2001, was the first "GTA" to pick up steam within speedrunning communities. 

A veteran in the community with multiple world-record speedruns, Anti_, was considered one of the best "GTA" speedrunners and a solid member of the community. All of Anti_'s success, it turned out, was too good to be true.

In August 2018, Youtuber and fellow "GTA" speedrunner RoK_24 made a video bringing up something fishy in Anti_'s world record "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" speedrun. Specifically, the video brought up a point that would later be confirmed: When Anti_ would drive motorcycles or cars, they would leave a smoke trail behind them. This implied that an illegal acceleration boost was helping Anti_ go faster than every other speedrunner. Contrasting that to untampered files, RoK_24 was able to determine that the smoke wasn't supposed to be there. This small detail was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the accusations leveled at Anti_.

Anti_ comes clean

Following RoK_24's accusations, the speedrunning community began hotly debating Anti_'s runtimes, eventually prompting Anti_ to make a Pastebin post in which he came clean

In the post from August 2018, Anti_ confessed to using acceleration boosts by tampering with the game code for all of his "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" speedruns. Reasoning with what he had done, Anti_ shared that, "I thought that if I gave myself the ability to just give myself free [Personal Bests] again it would make my mindset better and I could be happy playing and streaming the game again." In other words, he admitted to cheating in order to restore his love of the game and his record-setting mentality. Keep that in mind.

Furthermore, Anti_'s Pastebin post owned up to the criticism, explaining that he was ashamed to have let down other members of the community. His advice to other cheaters was to "slap yourself across the face" before doing anything that would damage their reputation. While Anti_ admitted to wrongdoing, he only did so after he'd been found out, and the speedrunning community was not pleased.

Anti_ receives a one-year ban

Speedrun.com is a mecca of sorts for speedrunning communities across the gaming landscape. It serves as the official leaderboard for posting record speedruns and also is a community hub with active forums for certain communities. The "Grand Theft Auto" speedrunning community largely relies on Speedrun.com for these services, and their moderators issued Anti_ a one-year ban following his Pastebin confession. Many members in the community were shocked by Anti_'s confession, because they saw him as one of their best members, as well as someone whose feats were to be learned from and emulated.

All of Anti_'s fraudulent "Vice City" speedruns were immediately removed from the Speedrun.com leaderboard. Now, one might think that this story ends there. After all, Anti_ had been caught, he had confessed, and he had received his punishment. Surely he would learn his lesson, especially considering the way in which he described his feelings towards other cheaters during his confession, right? Well, unfortunately for Anti_, his woes would not end there.

Anti_'s other speedruns are called into question

Once the rabbit is pulled from the hat, the trickster's advantage is known and there is no more element of surprise. Where once the "GTA" speedrunning community was surprised to learn that one of their heroes had turned into a villain, that same community had now grown to be wary of Anti_'s methods. Investigations into Anti_'s speedruns for "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" yielded similar results.

This time, there was no tire smoke to blatantly give away Anti_'s tampering, but diligent testing and comparison showed that Anti_ had again cheated, using mods to boost both vehicle acceleration boosts and gunfire rates to achieve faster times than anyone else. Tampering or modifying game code is an easy process with computer files, and new accusations were made by the "GTA" speedrunning community that Anti_ had falsified his world record "GTA: San Andreas" speedruns.

When Anti_ was accused of using the acceleration boosts for his "Vice City" runs, he was quick to confess to his wrongdoings. Furthermore, he tried to get ahead of future investigations into his "GTA: Vice City" runs by voluntarily invalidating the rest of his posted runs. However, he didn't take the same approach when it came to speedruns in other games. As noted by Goose's Gamer Folklore accusations were leveled at his "San Andreas" runs, Anti_ argued that "GTA: San Andreas" is just a glitchy game overall. Nevertheless, he agreed to take down the official records from Speedrun.com. 

In other words, instead of confessing or contesting the claims, Anti_ tried to brush them aside with general excuses. This begged the question: Why wouldn't he have just included these cheats in his previous confessions? Whatever the case, it led many in the community to believe that Anti_'s hardware was the culprit this time.

Anti_ gets permabanned

Suspensions and account restrictions are analogous to an athlete getting banned for some time after its discovered they've used an illegal advantage over the rest of the competition. Typically, there is a ramping progression to the punishments doled out to competitors when their competitive integrity is besmirched, and that is exactly what happened to Anti_. 

After the community got past their notion of Anti_ as being one of the best speedrunners in their scene, many former fans and colleagues turned on him. More comparison videos were made that showed Anti_'s vehicle acceleration and rate of gun fire far surpassed that of a vanilla version of the game. It was effectively proven that Anti_'s cheating had gone as far back as August 2017, roughly a year longer than what Anti_ had originally claimed. Following a full write-up of the events that had transpired up to that point, it was decided that Anti_ would be banned from ever again posting his records on Speedrun.com 

These permanent bans were not met with any protestation from Anti_, and the "GTA" speedrunning community was forever rid of one of its former heroes.

Unequal punishments in GTA speedrunning

Since these speedrunning communities are almost entirely self-moderated, there are some inconsistencies between the different bodies and how they enforce the rules. While community management within a more traditional company allows for a more recognizable system of rules, community-driven, decentralized power structures can lead to more case-by-case considerations. That is not to say one system is better than the other, but creating standards for punishment seems to be difficult for moderator-controlled communities. This concept has been reflected in how the speedrunning community has handled different cheating cases. 

Anti_'s permaban from the GTA community makes perfect sense; he had lied, confessed, and essentially forfeited his second chance when it was revealed that he hadn't confessed to the entire scope of his cheating. But around this same time in 2018, more speedruns were called into question, and for good reason. 

Another popular speedrunner in the GTA community, Flying, was found to have used similar accelerators to Anti_. However, Flying was only asked to take down his cheated runs from the community leaderboards. Interestingly, he did not detail his struggles or confess to the wrongdoings like Anti_ had, and yet his punishment was much less harsh. It seems that lying about the extent of wrongdoings had put a stain on Anti_'s case, which Flying was astute enough to avoid.

More consistent rulings for GTA speedrun cheaters

As fans who follow the sub-genre know, speedrunning rules change over time. What happens in a community will change how its members reacts to similar events in the future, and Anti_'s case became a watershed moment for the "GTA" speedrunning community. It seemingly set a standard that lying about the extent of one's wrongdoing can nullify any second chances that might otherwise be given to outed cheaters.

Other popular "GTA" community members have faced cheating accusations in the past. Prominent community member and YouTuber Goose has acknowledged his cheating history dating all the way back to the 2000s, and his second chance has been much more successful than Anti_'s. In Goose's case, it appears that his cheating past didn't extend beyond the point where he has claimed it stopped. In short, the "Grand Theft Auto" speedrunning community has ruled that dishonesty once is tolerable (with suspensions or corrective behavior, of course), but two instances of dishonesty might spell the end of your community membership.

Does Anti_ deserve another chance?

To many people, competition in video games is a sacred act. How competitors work within the rules is the real beauty of competition, but one fact is always for certain: The rules are to be obeyed by everyone. Without consistency among competitors, what was once an equal playing field can become a frustrating space. Even in the "Grand Theft Auto" games, a series where players are encouraged to do terrible and insane things, gamers still want people to follow the rules.

Whether or not Anti_ will return to "GTA" speedrunning is ultimately up to the community itself. Anti_ has gone quiet in the years since his ban, and while his return seems unlikely at this point, it may be interesting to see how future speedrunning competitions punish those that break the rules. Perhaps that will be the deciding factor as to whether or not Anti_ comes back to the speedrunning scene.

Modding game files is such an easy and accessible process it has become difficult for even the most vigilant moderators to catch subtle cheats (per The Atlantic). As such, the GTA speedrunning community will have to continue to deal with cheating in the future. Hopefully the draw of competition will bring the best out of people in the future, not the worst. And if other cheaters can make an honest comeback, maybe there's a chance for Anti_ and other fraudulent speedrunners.