You're absolutely right, one does only cheat oneself by 'cheating' or shortcutting the game.
The tools of helping out bugs are of course necessary to keep the game intact.
BUT my point might be that, if someone is remotely complaining about, how easy or short the game is, and at the same time takes advantage of every single exploit there has ever been recorded, then it is not at all fair to the game.
For instance you take advantage of the Shrine of the Gods directly from day one, visit the NWC offices to get lots of gold, mix all black potions for each character, solve all the easy-to-do promotion and council quests to gather lots and lots of experience, collect all horseshoes to put them into Water magic, multi-load to get what you want from corpses and shops, fly up and down to avoid ranged attacks, reload every time you don't like the outcome of a battle... or just one or a few of these tricks.
And no, I'm no saint, I cheat as well but on my own terms - some I do occasionally and some I never do. The shortcut to Dragonsands doesn't exist in my book and never will (it's only an easter egg to me - I visit NWC usually just before the Hive but only as a completionist), I collect the quest awards in a linear way (I haven't collected the Knight's nomination or reported back on the finding of the Fountain of Magic, in my current game yet - has also something to do with the fact that training gets a lot more pricy after that), I multi-load to find the spell books I need, I multi-load to find the NPC's I need, I multi-load magic shops to find items of each regeneration for every character and nothing else, I don't multi-load corpses - unless I find an unwanted artifact/relic, I only reload if my team dies in combat (thus Guardian Angel is a useless spell to me), I have given all my horseshoes to my sorcerer (but she has also got expertise in Fire and Air magic and Identify item simultaneously, hasn't got mastery of Water yet and I have visited neither Blackshire, White Cap nor Silver Cove only to collect the horseshoes), I accept the enchantments that my Enchant Item presents me, I rarely use the Circus, hence I don't resort to Abdul for good stuff, I have mixed a bunch of black potions but only to save space in inventory (also I have still got a few fountains or wells of +2 permanent stat to visit), I feel bad about flying up and down when fighting (I might very well use real strategy this time around) - this way I feel I get the most out my game.
And yes, I've paid more than once for my games, I own both hard copy and GOG version of most of my 3DO games, have back-up cd's (bought used) as well - also have a few in collectors edition.
But more interestingly what do you accept doing in your games?