Mods or modifications are generally associated with PC gaming, and they are usually fun changes to a game that make all the characters naked, add game content, or in the case of the header picture... let you play Oblivion as Michael Jackson! There are also game mods available on some consoles. UT3 allowed PC mods to be converted to PS3 format, then freely downloaded off the web, installed on the PS3 and used. However, what I want to talk about are modifications that are more commonly used on consoles and are of a less savory nature... I'm just gonna call them "modifications for pathetic losers". Maybe these people are born with an itty bitty tiny penis, that's my theory - but they will use hardware or software modifications to give them an artificial advantage in a game.
The easiest mods to do are generally hardware mods. The most common of the hardware mods is the use of a modded controller. "Rapid fire" controllers can be found for sale all over the Internet, and even at some retail outlets. Sony and Microsoft won't ban people from using them and leave it up to the developer to deal with this issue. Some people don't even regard it as cheating because there are advantages and disadvantages to using them. What a modded rapid fire controller does is that instead of continually pushing down on the trigger to fire a single shot weapon, a rapid fire controller empties the entire clip with one hit on the trigger. If you've ever seen a pistol acting like a machine gun, chances are you've been killed by a moron using a modded controller. The advantage of the modded controller is that single fire weapons tend to be quite lethal in many game because you generally only get that one shot. Shotguns, sniper rifles, pistols and burst fire assault rifles are the types of weapons usually used by those using a modded controller. Instead of firing a single shot or burst, a rapid fire controller will fire a very fast succession of shots (often emptying the entire clip). It's generally a sure fire kill with practically no skill required - hence it's appeal to those without the manly (or womanly) balls to just play the game with the same guns as everyone else in the game. The disadvantage to the rapid fire controllers is that people often run out of ammo quickly if they aren't smart about how they use the controller. Generally people will use it for their pistol (their back up weapon) or alternatively they will use it for a shottie or sniper rifle and carry an automatic back up weapon. Alternatively you'll often find these people camping near re-supply points. Modded controllers often come with additional mods such as a jitter shot (specific to burst weapons turning them into fully automatic), drop shot (the ability to go prone and fire), quick scope (automatic scoping when firing), and automatic reload. Essentially it's "Call of Duty for Dummies".
The other use for modded controllers is for fighting games where several moves can be tied to a single button... a "macro" for multiple button presses. Some developers now use anti cheat software for modded controllers. If you've ever depressed a shotgun fire button six times and only fired 3 shots, this is the anticheat software in effect. The game itself restricts the timing of single fire weapons, but moves like drop shots or quick scoping can also be done manually so are virtually undetectable by anti-cheat software. Now it should be noted that there ARE legitimate uses for modded controllers for those with handicaps such as missing fingers or the ability to only use one hand... but the vast majority of modded controllers are used for one reason and one reason only - to cheat.
The other easy hardware mod is the use of a Lag switch. It's apparently the game equivalent of viagra for those with limp dangly bits as it helps them have a big e-penis. With the simple push of a button their internet traffic is disrupted for a few seconds and the player appears to stand still in the game but they are in fact able to move around. Everyone also appears still to them and for the few seconds, they can get easy head shots or a knife kill on still targets and move out of the way of any shots coming their way. When connection resumes they often appear to move quickly around or even "warp" to a new location as all the actions made during the use of the lag switch are performed. Now some people have legitimately laggy connections, so Sony, Microsoft and some devs tend to look for patterns of strong internet signal with sudden short cuts in the signal. Lag switches generally are detectable and when found, the user is often banned from the network... unfortunately occasionally so are some players with really unstable internet connections, but the reality is that they probably shouldn't be playing in online play anyway. Developers are also increasingly using a simple server disconnect function when a lag spike is detected... the player is basically auto-booted from the game. Lag switching can still be found in some games, but increasingly they are becoming more and more difficult to use because of detection software. A lot depends on the game and the ability to match the lag switch with the server detection so that increasingly they can only be used for a split second which more or less avoids a death rather than gains a kill. The detections used simply make it so inconvenient to use a lag switch that many people don't bother.
For the more technically daring, there are software mods. Xbox has long fought a battle with software mods and generally can detect and ban consoles that use these types of mods in online play. Sony was pretty impervious to these mods until the infamous Geohot crack. Primarily a modded or cracked console tends to be used for game piracy, but they also gain the ability to alter code directly on the console which can also lead to online game hacks. After the Geohot crack, Modern Warfare 2 became virtually unplayable
on the PS3. There were the usual aimbots (where the cursor auto centers on an opponents head), the wallhacks (ablity to see an enemy through walls), and speed hacks (allowing a player to move more quickly)... but the outstanding number of hacks and cheats made the game completely unplayable for anyone who simply wanted to play the game as the developers originally intended. This is always the fear of true gamers... not that a hacked console will be able to pirate games - but that hackers will ruin online play for people that legitimately bought the game and just want to play it. Hacks are common in PC gaming, but PC devs are a little more attuned to this and have anti-cheat software that can often detect these modifications. At the time, the PS3 had little in the way of detection, though this has now changed and many current games are released with the ability to detect software mods. Like the Xbox, the PS3 can also now detect modded consoles and can perma-ban them from PSN and online play. While piracy was, and still is, a huge issue for console manufacturers, the bigger issue of allowing console modifications is the disruptions to other gamers who just want to play the games they paid for. Still, hackers will hack and it's the constant (and expensive) job of the console manufacturers and game developers to keep on top of this with various detection methods that allow for the disabling or banning of the player, the IP or the console. It's an expensive race, and every gamer pays for it.
(particularly those that are caught!)
Modifications. Yes, they can be fun, and in fact some games allow for servers to be legitimately modified to allow or disallow specific weapons, or to alter other gameplay factors. Consoles can be modified in fun ways that show the creative tastes of the owner. The problem arises when players make console modifications for the sole purpose of cheating. These people appear to have sociopathic tendencies and actually feel a sense of achievement when they climb the leaderboards or place well in games by using these various modifications. They take pleasure in disrupting the gameplay of other people. The reality is that these people are barely gamers. They're playing a game of avoiding cheat detection rather that truly testing their skills against other players. There is no glory in winning a game through cheating... absolutely none.
Cheaters can overcompensate all they want. The reality is that the rest of us kind of pity them. If people have to cheat through using mods, it's obviously because they lack the skills to play the game.