When you get down to it, the games we play and enjoy all have an element of strategy. Whether that’s a serious one… (Casting) …or not. (Casting) But while picking your approach is part of the game, some tactics are seen as too controversial, too… cheesy. (Casting) And like its delicious real-life counterpart – gaming cheese is varied, versatile and very much a product of the culture from which it derives. “Hey man you want some cheese before we roll out?” Besides the obvious “cheese-like” meaning, it looks like the term cheesy began to mean “cheap” or “inferior” around the turn of the 20th century in the United States. But in gaming, the earliest existing examples actually refer to Street Fighter II. And before we get too far into this, keep in mind that the term has since been used loosely and differently in a variety of games. We’re going to look at a spread of fine gaming cheeses. In Street Fighter, the term called attention to strategies that were seen as disproportionately powerful compared to the skill required to use them, like spamming the same move repeatedly. Relying on a cheap strategy like that was, in most gaming communities, seen as dishonorable. And in 1994’s bizarre post-apocalyptic fighting game Primal Rage, Atari Games added a “No Cheese” feature: which may be the first time that dishonorable play was specifically called Cheese in-game and not just by its community. “No cheese?” “No cheese?” “I don’t know, I think it was cause I was doing the same thing over and over.” The “no cheese” mechanic was triggered when a player used the same move too many times in a combo or tried to throw an opponent who was still in blockstun – resulting in the “No Cheese” notice appearing on-screen. When “no cheese” is active, the offender’s repeated move no longer damages their opponent and, if it’s used during a chained attack, causes the combo to be dropped. By the way, if you can’t tell yet, this game is f*cking crazy and extremely edgy for the 90s. Just look at this sh*t! “Now that’s f*cked up” Anyways, Stephen Riesenberger was an associate producer on Primal Rage, and he told me in an email that No Cheese was meant to prevent infinite combos — but also that the idea acted as a sort of substitute for just making cheese strategies ineffective. And this is the first important part of cheese: as games became more well-balanced, a cheesy tactic increasingly referred to a shallow strategy, something that wasn’t really consistently effective against experienced players. Following Primal Rage, Capcom put a cheese icon in Street Fighter Alpha II, that appeared when you won a round by defeating a blocking opponent with chip damage from a super or special move. (Casting) While the concept of cheese in gaming may have been well-known in ‘90s fighting games, the term exploded in popularity with StarCraft and StarCraft 2 – the latter specifically popularizing it in the West. (Casting) “So it looks like we are gonna have some sort of cheese on our hands.” Much like in fighting games, cheese strategies were frowned upon in Starcraft, but what made them different in Blizzard’s RTS is they relied on a lack of information — either not knowing that was happening, or not knowing how to counter it. (Casting) StarCraft cheese is usually an all-in proposition – you either live by it or you die by it, and its success is entirely dependent on how prepared for it your opponent is. “Now this guy has balls of steel Artosis.” “In map number one he tries something incredibly risky because if it’s scouted and spotted, it is very easy to handle.” “And you ask, “Do you think he’s gonna do it again?” “I said no, I think a lot of other people would say no.” “But he’s doing the same again.” (Casting) “We’ve been around Starcraft competition for years, people have loved these moves, Koreans particular they’ll either end a series or start it with some pretty ballsy cheese, just to throw off their opponent. But to do it twice, is that insanity, or is that bravery.” And with the MOBA trend in full swing toward the end of the 2000s, cheese began to develop more unique flavours, from suspicious looking team comp fromage: (Casting) …to unpredictable, game-changing strats au gratin: (Casting) Following Dota allstars, Valve even went as far as making cheese an in-game item in Dota 2. Cheese is a powerful consumable dropped by Roshan after his second death and every time thereafter. Roshan’s cheese restores a sizable portion of its indulger’s health and mana when used, making it pretty gouda. “Relax it was just a pun.” “SHUT THE F*CK UP. Okay? SHUT THE F*CK UP.” Today, the MOBA genre has become massive, and it’s predominantly here and in StarCraft that the term “cheese” remains in use. But some argue that “cheese” in MOBAs, especially at the competitive level, has become an unnecessarily derogatory term for what would otherwise be called a “pocket strat”: something innovative that catches the opponent off-guard. Essentially, one player’s pocket strat could be another player’s cheese. “It ain’t easy! Being cheesy!” But as long as we play games, there will be those who will gravitate towards cheap, easy-to-use strategies. And while not all of us may like cheese, it’s become an accepted part of every competitive game. “Chees!” But you know what’s not acceptable? I specifically asked for an assorted cheese platter, and you gave me this! These are like the Protoss Cannon Rush of dairy products. Did you see that? One of their fatalities is he just makes their ghost go into heaven. I don’t know why. And then one of Chaos’ finishers I don’t know if you saw it, he just literally jumps into a lake. I mean we can swim like apes probably. Yeah. Butterfly. Oh yeah. Shut up I wouldn’t drown! I can swim! I don’t know what it’s called but I can swim dude I’m not gonna drown.