Cheating, We've all done it at least once in our lives, in all types of situations. Its human nature to want to win, and some of us will go against the rules to do so. It can be harmless, but in many cases it is annoying, or even hurtful.
So, why was cheating and certain zone hacks become such a large problem in the Age games? Anonymity plays a big part in this. Behind the buffer zone of a computer screen and several hundred miles of telephone wire, people don't have to worry about upsetting someone else by playing unfairly, cheating, or exploiting bugs.
Its also easy: it's far easier to download a hack, and get an advantage in a game than to actually practice and become good. For example, way back when I was playing a lot of AoE over the Zone. I faced up against a player with a name such as CrackDevilz or something similar. Two minutes after the game started he had sent an attack with an obscene amounts of units, all the while taunting and even boasting about his ability to cheat.
Another factor that adds to this problem is the lack of maturity or even common courtesy in many of the players in the Age community. They simply don't care about wasting other people's time, upsetting others, or unbalancing a ladder or league system that someone has put a lot of time into creating. When these people do cheat, they often do not refrain from crude insults or taunts. This isn't a problem for experienced players; most people I know would just simply laugh at the idiocy of their opponent, but for new players, it can be pretty disheartening. In many ways these cheaters can have a very bad effect on the Age games. Some new players can actually be scared off or even turned away from a game simply from a single bad experience. They may assume all players they will meet are immature and rude, and just not put any time into trying to play the game again.
This line of thought leads into another problem found in the zone. The rating system! To be honest, I don’t like it; players become too obsessed with there ratings. Have you ever lost a game and went “DAMN IT!” not necessarily because you lost, but because when you look at your nick again it will be down 8 points.