Learn English – Origins of the gaming term “cheese strategy”


In a gaming scene the word cheese is used to describe strategies or ways of playing that are really powerful and do not require much skill from the players side at the same time. The term is widely used both in video games and tabletop games alike.

It is extremely subjective, there's no strict definition of what is "cheese" and what is not, but that's besides the point.

What are the origins of it? What has cheese to do with "undeserved" victories, cheap strategies, etc.?

Best Answer

I'm not sure about the Korean explanation, but it definitely predates the strategy game Starcraft, which was first released in 1998, and was at least five years earlier in beat-'em-up games such as Street Fighter II.

Searching Usenet, I found cheese strategy used on Aug 22, 1993 in alt.games.sf2 in a post called "SF2:HF(Turbo) Ken Strategy Guide".

<=-Zangief-=> He cheats a lot. You will get tough breaks every once in a while in this fight, so bear (heh) with it. The cheese strategy is just to use straight up and down Roundhouse kicks, or if you are in the corner, jump back and use Roundhouse, then sweep/FB or DP when you land.

Here's the cheese strategy involves making simple, easy moves to defeat your opponent. These moves were often described as cheese moves or just cheese.

Another Street Fighter II thread of Dec 6, 1992 in rec.games.video.arcade titled "Cheese glorious Cheese!" includes cheese used a verb and a noun:

But Blanka is pretty much helpless if it is a really good player who has decided to play this way. Cheese the livin' hell out of them. And they're more than welcome to try to cheese back, reason being that the above guy is right about the Blanka-Bison cheese.

A definition was given in alt.games.sf2 on Jun 18, 1992 in "Bison's Cheesepeedo":

"Cheese" is a term used to refer to anything cheap, unfair, or something that is easy to do, does much damage, and requires no skill. For example, some people consider the Ken fireball, fireball, dragon punch combo to be cheese because it can be next to impossible to get out of it (by the way, I do'nt think this combo is cheese). Of course, the magic throw and freeze/handcuffs that two-bit Guile assholes use is BEYOND cheese.

The reason people called the torpedo the "Cheesepedo" (I myself call it the pieceofsh*tpedo) is because it's a dead easy move to execute (takes no skill at all...just yank back on stick and then forward, hitting punch button) and does incredible damage, even when blocked. A no-talent piece of trash playing Champion Edition could (and many do) know nothing about the game and still beat you with the cheesepedo by simply mowing across the screen, back and forth.

Capcom had no brain when they put this stupid, f**king move inthe game. M.Bison "experts" are a bunch of asswipes with no talent.

Nuff said.

Cheese move dates back to at least Apr 6, 1992 in "SF2 TCE Match Ups" in rec.games.video.arcade:

jumping roundhouse, jab, fierce flame torpedo neckkick, jab, sonic boom with roundhouse VERY CHEESE MOVE: strong flame and throw

The very earliest mention I found of this cheese in any form (although I expect there will be earlier ones) was in "SFII (SFI)", posted to rec.games.video.arcade on Jan 27, 1992:

You couldn't choose your character; if you played on the left, you were Ryu, and if you played on the right, you were Ken. Their abilities were exactly matched, but not as extensive as in SFII... The two-player version was extremely fierce, though, because the game had absolutely no cheese.

Finally, a July 1994 rec.games.video.arcade thread debates "To cheese or not to cheese" and an October 1993 alt.games.sf2 thread discusses the (regional) differences between ticking, cheesing, cheating and cheaping. Perhaps cheese comes from a combination of "cheap" (as in a cheap move), "cheat" and "easy".