And it seems that this mild subverting of the Xbox Live system is just the thin end of the wedge when it comes to cheating - opening the door for rogues and videogaming imbeciles to work their up into the top slots, essentially destroying the whole essence of what Gamerscore is supposed to be about. "Achievement points have made some people into real jerks," states Fixell matter-of-factly. "People will even try and rip you off to try and make you earn
Achievements for them. One of the guys in the top ten wanted to get the Ridge Racer 6 No Crash Victories Achievement - and this guy named Helacool360 had it. He said he would give it to him if he temporarily took control of his account and beat Far Cry on all three difficulties for him. My friend did Far Cry for him, and Helacool360 refused to give him the Ridge Racer save. We then found out that he was doing this to other people (he wanted the Quake 5,000 Ranked Matches Achievement from me) - he never planned to give that save to anyone. Those are the people you have to watch out for, not the ones at the top right now."
Some of the top Gamerscorers we approached reckon that the problem of cheating is now threatening to completely destroy the whole point of the system in the first place. Hackers have managed to find a way to transplant game saves between machines, and people are even 'loaning' their accounts to skilled players to complete Achievements for them.
"I have a good buddy that I play just about every game with in order to boost and he originally had a much lower Gamerscore than me. But while I was playing FIFA World Cup, I noticed he was earning huge amounts of points very quickly. Finally I noticed he earned some Achievements out of order and called him on it and he told me about game saves," says Fixell. "I was really pissed off at first - because all the time I spent playing games to earn things that other people could get in a few seconds made the whole process seem like a waste (which it is - let's not kid ourselves). Just knowing that people get all the Ridge Racer single-player Achievements without even playing it still bothers me - but I'm guilty of it now in other games so I can't say much about it. I'd say about 1,500 of my Gamerscore was achieved this way."
The UK's N0va360 prides himself on his 100% legit Gamerscore and reveals how to spot a cheat: "Achievements unlock in the wrong order and you can see this on the Gamercard. For example, 200 online wins in Ridge Racer before 50 wins... All Characters Unlocked in Table Tennis before any of them have been individually unlocked. You can tell who most of the game savers are because they hide their Achievements, so you can't see the games they are playing and in what order they got their Achievements."
"It's really a sad thing to see, because all self-accomplishment gets lost," says Stallion83, another gamer claiming an unsullied Gamerscore tally. "Therefore I don't respect them. My girlfriend's 850 points is greater than theirs, because she has EARNED them herself. They are really abusing the system and making the legit people look bad." Crash 27, who has retired his high-scoring persona because of this situation, agrees: "I see no reason to use cheating methods. I think it takes away from the feeling of accomplishment, and it doesn't show anyone that you are a good gamer but more the opposite... The real joy comes from knowing that hard work has paid off and you EARNED that Achievement."
Another way that the hardcore are abusing the system is through 'game doubling'. This is where different region versions of the same game are played through, the same Achievements unlocked each time. NOGGIN SHOTZ takes particular exception to this one. "They need to secure this so no-one can do it. Achieving points twice for the same game is ridiculous. There's no feeling of accomplishment in doing this - it's simply a free 1,000 points."