One of the things I enjoy doing is watching people play games, or watching people talk about games and game playing, which is what one does when one takes games more seriously than perhaps they were meant to do. One of the things that I find most interesting about speedrunning, which is where people play games way faster than they were originally meant to be played, is the proliferation of categories. This proliferation of categories happens because new glitches and shortcuts and extras are found that form roads that can be taken or not taken, and different categories result from different choices. For example, one may have 100% completion or any% completion, or glitchless or warpless or no major glitches or things must be obtained from their original locations or something else like that. The passing off of tool-assisted runs and spliced runs in order to obtain legitimacy as a speedrunner within the gaming community has threatened the legitimacy of many racing records, and led to a culture where players are incentivized to try to investigate other players and show where various forms of cheating have happened.
Earlier this week, an inaugural address sought to argue for unity. These are remarkably common. Just about every president who has ever been elected has done so in the face of a divided and hostile electorate, and quite a few have sought to position themselves as unity candidates. For example, Thomas Jefferson said, after a bitter partisan campaign fought with a great deal of dirtiness, that “we are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.” Abraham Lincoln, in his first inaugural, attempted to appeal to the better angels of our nature that could lead to peace instead of civil war, in vain. And every president since at least 1992 has sought to position themselves as a peacemaker in some fashion, rising above the partisan divide. All have failed. The quest for legitimacy in the face of persistent hostility goes on.
It is easy to see why legitimacy is something that is so important. The human tendency to justify oneself through any means possible, to make excuses for things that are not going well and to try to attack the legitimacy of others demonstrates the importance. We do not attack that which is of no importance to us, and we do not go out of our way to defend what is not of value. The tricky problem that one has to deal with in the quest for legitimacy is that if we seek legitimacy in the eyes of people, other people have different values and different belief systems and give legitimacy for different reasons, and so our claims for legitimacy may not succeed simply because they are not allowed to succeed in the mindset of someone else. And if we seek legitimacy in the eyes of God, that requires a knowledge of what God respects and honors. And this is by no means an easy task as well. As is often the case, what we want in legitimacy is to have our own claims honored by others, but others are often not inclined to do so.
The urge to cheat comes from the desire to gain respect and honor we cannot merit through our own abilities and efforts. This is true whether we cheat at video games or at electioneering. The motive of seeking to gain something we do not deserve and then demanding the legitimacy that comes from having earned something. When positions and honors come with power, it is all the more vital for people that they be obtained by any means possible, and the gulf between that which we strive to attain and that which we deserve, to say nothing of the respect and honor that others are willing to give us, can be immensely wide. And yet there is little chance for such things to be gotten rid of. As long as there are things we want to obtain that we do not merit, but that we can try to manipulate conditions to maintain, there will be a legitimacy gap between that which we obtain and that which we deserve. And others may not be inclined to honor us even to the level that we actually deserve, thus leaving us to fume about the ways that we are wronged through the prejudices of others, not realizing that we are the same sort of people as they are in not giving credit where credit is due.