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I have a hobby of reverse engineering games, specifically to make cheats for them. I want to document the process doing so on my blog, which potential employers will see. I will do so on an old single player game to hopefully avoid any negativity. Also, would the license on the game matter?

I'm still a student, and this would be more geared towards internship applications.

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    In your blog use white hat type language. This could be viewed as a hacker type thing. But I would still call the purpose cheats.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:08
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    Don't call them cheats, call it a "Trainer". Solves the problem of attracting traffic, as well as not attaching any negative labels.
    – AndreiROM
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:19
  • What types of jobs are you looking for? Do the positions value reverse engineering skills?
    – Brandin
    Jul 7, 2016 at 16:01
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    For what it is worth, I used to write patches for an emulation server of a very popular online game that involved crafts and war. When my boss found out, he thought it was really cool. Jul 7, 2016 at 17:54
  • Professionals would not be impressed, some tech's might be. But that would be an instant application in the bin if most people saw it. I'd hire the guy next to you who focused on more relevant stuff all else being equal.
    – Kilisi
    Jul 7, 2016 at 21:56

3 Answers 3

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If you're dealing with a hard-core gamer like me, the word "Cheats" will make them see red, so be careful.

That said, reverse engineering is a skill that would pique my interest. As @Paparazzi said above, give it more of a white-hat tone as you have an impressive skill that you want to market and remember that reputation is everything .

Case in point: I once exploited a security vulnerability to do a week's worth of work in an afternoon at a previous employer. I don't phrase it that way on an application or interview. Instead I say:

One time, we were backlogged with a weeks worth of work. I found a way to expedite matters to reduce the time to four hours.

Use "reverse engineering" on an application or interview but never, ever mention cheats.

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  • Reverse engineering is great, and I agree "cheats" or "hacks" would really tick me off as a potential employer because I have had more than one game I like ruined by them. You could phrase it as "modding" the game, and to be safe, use a game where you can play single player or host your own server for your friends - something like Borderlands.
    – ColleenV
    Jul 8, 2016 at 0:24
  • Wouldn't HR see bypassing protocol/regulations as a big red flag? Even if it helps you and your colleagues to do work faster. Jul 8, 2016 at 8:04
  • @JuhaUntinen Perhaps, if I had broken any, and HR does not tend to get involved when Directors and VP level people are thrilled. Jul 8, 2016 at 12:14
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It's all about the phrasing (and the person you are talking to).

The way you are writing it here? Maybe some negativity, though probably still pretty positive overall. A few managers might think poorly but as a student most will be super excited to see you doing cool things.

Either way, imagine saying it like this instead:

  • "I have a hobby of writing enhancements to older games. This often involves reverse engineering the game itself in order to be able to effectively make these enhancements. This requires me to do X, Y, and Z and is something I love doing! I also have a blog where I talk through an example if you are interested."

Focusing on the how you are doing this rather than the what will effectively sidestep this problem.

The reality is that if you are applying for internships and can talk about your abilities in skills you have learned doing this you probably will be successful in applying.

A lot of intern applicants haven't done anything remotely interesting other than coursework (which... isn't that interesting most of the time) so you are miles ahead of many (most?) other applicants by your hobby work.

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  • I like the answer and need to be careful with the wording but still call them cheats. The blog will get more traffic. And you could more readily get into an IP thing calling it enhancements.
    – paparazzo
    Jul 7, 2016 at 15:11
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Be careful of the wording. I understand that you still want to call them cheats to get more traffic for your blog, but if you use negative connotations, you may lead them to subconsciously view this in a negative light.

The work you are doing to accomplish this is significantly more valuable than any of the canned programming problems you have solved in your classwork. Doing this and being able to explain how accomplished it should be a strong factor in your favor during the interview process.

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