I have been thinking about cheating a lot, especially since I’m doing a LOT of it in Braid… .and it’s made me think about the ramifications in real-life education. I’ve always wondered why all exams aren’t always open book. For example, in math, if you’ve never learned how to multiply, there is a high likelihood you will not be able to figure out 322×200 = ? on the exam, even if your notes are in front of you. I don’t think I’ve ever faced a situation on the job where I wasn’t allowed to ask my colleagues and superiors about things I don’t understand. It’s encouraged. I guess, is it really cheating, or just guided learning?

I looked up some articles on cheating and student behavior and a lot of them focus on “rationalizing” cheating behavior. I find this interesting because that inherently sets up an environment that cheating IS wrong. A lot of this involves getting answers when you’re supposed to work individually (take home exams) but… in work, do you ever work alone? Isn’t the way a lot of people learn programming by looking at and deconstructing other people’s code? What Barry said in class struck a chord: it’s a systemic issue. Fundamentally, we’re creating environments where the test of knowledge isn’t analogous to how we understand our eventual use of this learned information.

When I started cheating in Braid, what I learned was a method. I had to learn that it’s possible for me (that is, I understood new a new capacity of gameplay) to use enemies as literal jumping boards to get what I want (puzzle pieces). I think that’s why my favorite tests in college were essay exams. You could have your notes in front of you, but the fundamental test was one of explicating themes. It really tested understanding, and there was no one right answer, which is nice.

Randomly, my most loathed exam questions were always those True/False ones – so, so tricky.