The Daily Grind: When does a clever loophole become a bannable exploit?

SWTOR's Ilum
Trouble has been brewing this week over a Star Wars: The Old Republic "exploit" in which people use seemingly legitimate (but perhaps unintended) game mechanics to tip the balance of the game in their favor. Of course, this is nothing new to veteran MMO players, who have seen hundreds, even thousands, of such loopholes and bugs spackled and patched since first MMO came online. Entire World of Warcraft guilds have been banned, however temporarily, for "exploiting" poorly coded raid AI, for example.

I've always felt that it's the game company's responsibility to counter loopholes before anyone takes advantage of them; the onus should be on the developer, not the player, to set the rules of the game using hardcoded mechanics. The players can't be expected to suss out the game-designers' intent, after all. Other gamers believe that "exploiters" really ought to know better and deserve whatever punishments the game's GMs mete out. What do you think? When does a clever loophole become a bannable exploit?

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