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Microsoft XBox (Games) Games

Xbox Live Labels Autistic Boy "Cheater" 613

Posted by samzenpus
from the what-does-the-PR-dept-have-to-say? dept.
Jellis55 writes "Jennifer Zdenek, the mother of an 11-year-old boy who lives with autism, is outraged at Microsoft Xbox Live for labeling her son a 'cheater' and taking away everything he's earned online. She says her son, Julias Jackson, is so good at playing X-Box games, Xbox LIVE thought he cheated. She says her son got online last week to play Xbox LIVE and saw that he was labeled a cheater and had zero achievements. Microsoft continues to ignore her requests to take 'cheater' off of his account."

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Xbox Live Labels Autistic Boy "Cheater"

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  • by Myrmi (730278) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:01AM (#35018066)
    ...to take cheater off his account simply because there is evidence of cheating. From @Stepto 's Twitter feed:

    We confirmed there were cheated achievements and gave the parent the details. This wasnt a "he played too good" situation at all. https://twitter.com/stepto/status/30451173655838720 [twitter.com]
  • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by SpazmodeusG (1334705) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:17AM (#35018150)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:12AM (#35018394)

    Am sorry, but exploiting a bug is not "cheating." Bugs are part of the game engine.

  • Warner Bros (Score:4, Informative)

    by xnpu (963139) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:21AM (#35018444)

    Reminds me how a Warner Bros exec once visited the Netherlands, noticed cartoons were subtitled and demanded they be dubbed instead. Dutch kids can't possibly be that proficient at reading! They are dubbed every since.

    Dumbass. Before dutch channels started to broadcast cartoons we depended on the British Sky Channel. No subtitles, no dubbing. Not a kid complained. Ever. And we all enjoyed it just as much.

  • Re:lol (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:00AM (#35018714)

    I'm afraid we're all living in a parallel universe where 'tweets' pass for what's supposed to be actual press releases.

    WTF? What makes you think Microsoft is supposed to make a press release because some 11 year old kid is accused of cheating on xbox live? Should the local TV station have cut into the State of the Union speech with breaking news about this kid, too?

  • Re:XBL cheating? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Xest (935314) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:05AM (#35018742)

    In this sort of case, the issue is largely the use of modified save game files. You can use standard USB storage to save games nowadays, so it shouldn't be suprising that there are tools out there to write modified saved game files which put you right at the point you get the achievements to them.

    It's actually been around a while, there were adapters that let you write modified save game files direct to the hard drives of XBox 360s too.

    I suspect Microsoft does some kind of signing per-console or per-player or something on files when they're written to storage, and if the user loads a save file not signed to a console they've used or their account then it's flagged up to Microsoft.

    So they're not necessarily using any kind of heuristics based detection as this mother would seem to suggest, it's likely just that as they said, he actually cheated, and mummy decided to make a fuss out of it without knowing the full story.

    I decided to investigate a little and found his gamertag (ZOMBIE KILL67). Looking up his stats on bungie.net for Halo 3/ODST:

    http://www.bungie.net/Stats/Halo3/Default.aspx?player=ZOMBIE+KILL67&sg=0 [bungie.net]

    Ranked K/D Ratio: 0.84 over 1,014 games? Not that good after all then, in fact, if he can't even break even and gets killed more than he kills, that means he's worse than most other players, and that if he got banned for being too good, so would more than half of Microsoft's other subscribers.

    So it really sounds more like mummy can't cope with the idea that her son is actually fairly crap, being below average, and that he likely is in fact a cheater. A case of parent/child flaw blindness I would say.

  • Re:what if... (Score:4, Informative)

    by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:35AM (#35019000) Homepage
    Except if you understand how the cheat detection works you'd know that it's mostly automated... GameSaves can't be transferred between accounts, not unless you move them to your PC and modify them. There are a group of people know as "GameSavers" who will share saves that are near completion, then people download them on their PC and modify them to look like it was there own account that the save belongs to. then put the save on their console and then earn nearly all the achievements for only a few seconds of play.

    MS can detect if these have been used by running a check sum on the save game to determine that it's been modified. Similarly people cheat by modifying their console to play pirated games, and the the game code itself can be modified to give people large amounts of health, extra powerful weapons or see/shoot through walls, etc. They can detect this in the same way they can detect gamesavers.

    It's my understanding that they don't just going around checking everyone's file but rather check if the account has been reported by another user, or they usually check top players of new games (IE: people leading the Halo leaderboards a month after release)

    I have no idea if there are additional manual checks in place but detecting this stuff is pretty cut and dry with very little room for false positives.
  • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt.gmail@com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:36AM (#35019008) Homepage
    It's understandable Microsoft doesn't want to be specific on how they know he cheated, since other cheaters may be able to figure out how to remain undetected from such information.
  • by odin84gk (1162545) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:18AM (#35019380)

    The Xbox 360 allows you to copy a game to the HDD, significantly reducing loading times. In addition, the Xbox 360 has been hacked for a while using a JTAG to run unsigned code. Once someone hacks the game, a player can download the hack by using the xbox Media Center, a USB drive to transfer the files, or just by joining a game with someone that has the mod. (Modern Warfare, I'm looking at you!)

    You can also do a combination of bridging host and running unsigned code to give you all kinds of control. (Bridging host = forcing XBL to give you host). For example, one hack was able to return all players in a game lobby to level 1. (Modern Warfare 2, players would lose all of the weapons and perks that they unlocked.) There were also "10th Prestige" lobbies that would automatically boost you to the max level, unlocking all of the weapons and perks in the game.

    All of your typical Counter-Strike style cheats can be applied to XBL. Some studios have done a significantly better job at banning cheaters than others. For example, Bungie has done a great job filtering out the cheaters, but Infinity Ward was absolutely horrible at it. (A lot of cheating) Microsoft has done a decent job, but certainly not enough.

    Yes, there are also "bugs", but exploiting a bug in the game won't result in a ban.

    In the end, there are a LOT of ways to cheat. XBL is not pristine, but it does have some controls to ban Cheaters.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:29AM (#35019476) Journal

    You're making a number of assumptions here that I don't think can be supported. First, we know nothing about the reason for the ban. Nobody's said. There's a tweet from MS saying that the kid's mother has been informed of the reasons for the decision. In fact, there's evidence that MS do have a review/appeal process; there have been cases of false-positives in the past, which have been over-turned. However, where such false positives occur, they tend to affect a large number of people and become news in their own right.

    Second, you are assuming that MS is using some kind of stats tracking for its anti-cheat. I do have experience with anti-cheat and I can tell you now that for skill-based games, relying on stats tracking for any kind of anti-cheat, let alone one that is allowed to institute bans, is absolutely ludicrous. Nobody with any brains is doing this. MS are not doing this. What happens if you end up with a top-end gamer who jumps online for a quick match and gets put into a game with a bunch of newbies?

    There are a few instances where you can use stats-based automatic tracking. In strategy games, it is possible to calculate the maximum possible level of resource acquisition. If somebody is exceeding this, they're cheating. But that is absolutely not the same as looking at the kills/deaths ratio in an fps. Clever games these days have a matchmaking system which looks at a spectacular kills/deaths ratio and doesn't say "this person is cheating" but rather "I will match this person against people with similar ratios in future".

    I'm also surprised that you are willing to grant this kid elite powers of gaming supremacy, but not the ability to hack around with his console.

    As you say, public server adminning does tend to throw up a higher number of issues than tournament adminning. However, it is still generally 100% possible to have a review and appeals mechanism, particularly for admin-detected cheating. If your customers are paying £40/year to play on your servers, you are going to have a review mechanism at the very least. Of course, my experience is that the majority of the time, the people who get hit by anti-cheat measures are indeed cheating (not true in every instance, but it does generally hold up). As most people who get a ban will appeal, this means that most appeals get rejected. Which in turn gives the impression that there isn't an appeals mechanism.

  • by LO0G (606364) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:32AM (#35019506)

    According to stepto (XBox director of enforcement) he did provide proof to the mother. He has no obligation to provide that proof to anyone else.

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