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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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  • lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @06:55AM (#35018030)

    Maybe he actually cheated... LOL. Naturally, the mother is biased in favor of her son.

  • by Sockatume (732728) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:09AM (#35018106)

    Since about 2008 MS has had measures in place to establish whether an achievement unlock happened during gameplay, and they consequently delete the relevant achievements and apply the "Cheater" flag. I don't think anyone, autistic, dyslexic, or neurotic, is good enough at Xbox to unlock achievements without actually playing.

  • by reub2000 (705806) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:15AM (#35018138)

    So we're just supposed to believe the person who banned him without any details. Is twitter now a reliable source?

  • by Eraesr (1629799) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:19AM (#35018162) Homepage
    Yeah, so if the kid's moral compass is stuck at "cheating in videogames is a-ok in my book" then there's no hope for him in the rest of his gaming life ey?
    I know Microsoft is evil, the devil, the anti-christ, etcetera etcetera, but in this case, I'm willing to believe that they are right. The kid's a cheater. End of story.
  • by kangsterizer (1698322) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:21AM (#35018168)

    While we may debate if he really cheated or not,, really has true autism or not and so on, I think there's something else that is worth discussing.

    Online games are played by millions nowadays and want it or not, this shapes the society a little bit in it's own ways.

    In my experience, anyone losing to the superior minded in any game involving strategy (they almost all do, including FPS and "dumb" RPGs) will eventually call it cheating. I think everyone has experienced that. Eventually, if enough people get pissed and do not understand how it is possible to lose so bad to a legitimate player, they will label him cheater.
    Admins and game masters are no different - usually they also play the game. They will find any so-called proof to dismiss the person and have it banned for breaking the rules, even if no rule was broken.
    Examples:
    - it's statistically impossible to have 60% accuracy, it's a proof of cheating
    - it's statistically impossible to win 1v10, it's obvious cheating
    - he's going too much damage
    - he can't click that fast
    and so on - mostly based on lose "stats" and no real reference

    Sadly (well - this is human), people also tend to play such games so many hours a day that such reactions are seen also in their day to day offline life.

  • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EasyTarget (43516) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:28AM (#35018210) Journal

    Slashdotted...... but I gotta wonder at a site called 'gamingtruth'; who's truth exactly?

  • by lostmongoose (1094523) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:44AM (#35018288)

    So we're just supposed to believe the person who banned him without any details. Is twitter now a reliable source?

    He sent the details to the parents. Those are the only people he has to convince. Whiny mouth breathers on /. demanding that MS provide proof are not on his list of people he has to convince or impress.

  • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:11AM (#35018392)

    Microsoft sends a Twitter message "he did cheat, we checked", and everyone says "O, that's OK then, carry on". I must be in a parallel universe.

    I'm afraid we're all living in a parallel universe where 'tweets' pass for what's supposed to be actual press releases. There's no proving who actually did it, no problem denying or retracting it, and no accountability. I'd like to petition all major dictionaries to add 'see plausible deniability' to any entries for Twitter or 'tweets'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:12AM (#35018398)

    Your logic doesn't hold water. The kid has an obvious motivation to lie -- he doesn't want to admit to mom he cheated but still wants his achievements back. Mom on the other hand wouldn't want to admit that his child could be a bad apple -- everyone has heard a parent say "my son would _never_ do something like that"...

  • Re:lol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:18AM (#35018434)

    And neither do 11 year old children?

    Come on, this isn't news. This is between the child, his mom, and Microsoft. It's not like they're stealing a bag of money from the kid. If she challenged it and they weren't sure they'd life it because that's easier than arguing and has basically no downside.

    If the news attention has done anything it's sully her case because now it provides an actual motivation for Microsoft to stick to its guns (while also providing a motivation for it to keel over and give the kid a boatload of free shit).

  • by xnpu (963139) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:24AM (#35018468)

    How are you supposed to distinguish a bug from an in-game trick? Many games are loaded with shortcuts and secrets.

  • by Kiraxa (1840002) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:24AM (#35018472)
    No you're not an "aspie" if you're going to call yourself anything its an Autistic Psychopath. Yes thats its proper name. And being an antisocial narcissist who can pay attention to detail doesn't make you special. And its completely "fixable." giving it a special label and saying LOL MENTAL DEFECT IT MAKES ME SPECIAL just pisses off the people who work with people who have real autism and see you cocks diluting the term and drawing negative attention with your narcissism.
  • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:28AM (#35018490) Journal

    The twitter comment seems legit, it's logical and makes more sense than "My son is so good he got labeled a cheat" when we know there are achievement farmers who are miles ahead of this kid and didn't get labeled cheaters. Slashdot may have Microsoft, but it's users are generally able to accept basic logic over someone saying "Well I'm a parent, so I know...".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:28AM (#35018494)

    Whiny mouth breathers on /. demanding that MS provide proof are not on his list of people he has to convince or impress.

    Then he is a fool and should be fired immediately. Whiny mouth breathers on /. that are paying XBox live customers such as myself damn sure better be on his list of people that he has to convince or impress!

  • by cbope (130292) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:38AM (#35018580)

    I'm not sure you can consider Xbox Live "open to the public". After all, it's not available to non-Xbox owners, and if I'm not mistaken, you pay to play (subscription). How is this public again? Sounds pretty private to me. Just because it uses the interwebs to deliver the private content, does not make the content public.

    I don't know, it sounds like he cheated. Whether or not the kid has a disability is really irrelevant. The ADA provides protection for the disabled so that they have EQUAL access to public services and businesses open to the public. It does not mean you give them special treatment... you give them EQUAL treatment. The point is to *not* discriminate against anyone with a disability. That also means that just because you have a disability, you are not entitled to special treatment above a person who may not have a disability, which is exactly what some posters are calling for here. If the kid cheated, then he violated the TOS and got what he deserved.

    Naturally, this will get spun the wrong way by the media as the media is so good at doing, MS will have a PR nightmare on their hands, and the kid will get the cheater label dropped and his points restored.

  • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:41AM (#35018612) Homepage Journal

    I must be in a parallel universe.

    You mean a parallel universe where rules mean something?

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@ ... .ca minus distro> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:45AM (#35018634)

    No the problem is that Microsoft still made an error.

    Let me illustrate. In logic that has any complexity there are overlapping regions. This means you are unable to distinguish between a cheater and non cheater. But the problem is that you need to decide how to filter out that crowd. So you narrow down the logic and throw up some more rules.

    The problem is that the logic assumes that the actors are normal humans, and normal cheaters. This is ok because the logic is hindsight biased. What the logic can integrate are new cases, and this could be a new case. Thus what Microsoft and most corporations do is employ somebody to look over the data. But here is the rub, does this person have the experience to understand this situation?

    I say NO, because this is a kid with autism! It is understandable that this throws a new curve. So how do you do deal with this potentially? Again you put in a catch that if somebody makes 10 gains one week, and 400 gains the next that there is a cheat. But this YET AGAIN raises the issue that you have been given a case that can be a cheat or non-cheat and you have no evidence to sway you either way.

    In a legal court system the answer is innocent since there is not enough evidence. However, I am guessing MSFT is swaying guilty as they only care about their gaming system and they think that most probably this is a cheat and cheats hamper the game. Understandable from a corporate perspective, but idiotic from a human perspective!

    The best answer that Microsoft could have given in this situation is as follows:

    1) You are cheat
    2) Mother calls and screams my son is autistic
    3) Microsoft backs off and puts the son on probation for 3 months, gives him all of their latest games.

    Why? Simple, Microsoft needs new data and this is a perfect opportunity to get new data. So they stoke the kid with games, track him like a hawk and have the ability to determine whether or not he is really cheating.

    Also EVEN if the kid really cheated the publicity MSFT gets from this is dumb!

  • A better question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheQuantumShift (175338) <monkeyknifefight@internationalwaters.com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:51AM (#35018664) Homepage
    For the reporter to ask: "What's your autistic 11 year old doing spending all his time playing Mature rated games that revolve around killing people?"
  • by CrazyDuke (529195) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:55AM (#35018690)

    Who says autistic children can't cheat? Where is the evidence that supports that assumption?

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:04AM (#35018738) Homepage

    You dont need an xbox to be on xbox live. go to the website make yourself an account. BOOM you are on xbox live.
    Pay to play? no. pay to play OTHERS, but a silver account is free, you have to pay $70.00 a year for gold so you can play others in games and use things like netflix,facebook,etc... It's a way to extort money out of xbox owners, most dont pay it.

    I love this one.... "I don't know, it sounds like he cheated. " yeah a screen cap of a supposed tweet from a microsoft employee with ZERO details.
    I hope you never get on a jury as you seem to be easily manipulated.

  • by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:30AM (#35018958)

    For the reporter to ask: "What's your autistic 11 year old doing spending all his time playing Mature rated games that revolve around killing people?"

    Why would this be anybody's business other than the parents? The ratings are meant to be a guideline to inform the parents of the type of content the game has, nothing more. They make the decision of whether or not to allow the child to play the game.

    I was raised in an environment sans censorship of any kind. The only side-effect involved some sleepless nights as a seven year-old after having watched horror movies. I learned not to see horror movies again for a while after (but wasn't prohibited from doing so). I don't have a problem with parents who do decide to shield their children from certain things, but the decision is theirs, not yours.

  • by kangsterizer (1698322) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:32AM (#35018980)

    For the reporter to ask: "What's your autistic 11 year old doing spending all his time playing Mature rated games that revolve around killing people?"

    I was playing Wolf 3D at 11, killing nazis and dogs, you insensitive clod.

  • Re:lol (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:33AM (#35018984)
    Xbox Live does not have an autism detector. This kid isn't being discriminated against because of his disability. Microsoft has had their best people check on it. This has escalated to the top of their most seasoned community managers. If they thought there was a doubt, they wouldn't endure this bad PR storm.

    I'm more inclined to believe a college educated expert on the matter than an 11-year-old who (according to the video) shits themselves and urinates on the floor when they lose their gamerscore.
  • Ideally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moraelin (679338) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:38AM (#35019026) Journal

    1. Ideally you wouldn't do it like that at all, but have enough data transmitted and processed by the server to actually know WTH happened there.

    E.g., if you have an MMO and do any money or item transfers in an atomic transaction on the server, then you just eliminated duping. And if you keep a log of who bought or transferred what, and suddenly an item appears that doesn't have such records, then you know some cheat was involved.

    2. If someone did go with such statistical methods, they have the added disadvantage that

    A) they don't account for flukes. As you probably know, having, say, 55% accuracy only means 55% in the very long run. Getting even 10 or 20 hits in a row is improbable but not impossible. When you have a million players shooting millions of rounds each, and more deaths per minute than at Kursk, one in a million odds will actually happen very often. You'll have several deaths a day which are the 20'th hit without a miss in a row.

    B) being "that good" is actually a relative thing.

    Someone who thinks they're that good against random newbies in random matches, may be completely pwned when they stumble on a major clan's server. I had exactly that nasty surprise myself in UT. You'd think I'd manage at least one frag there, but it was like skeet shooting with me being the clay pigeon ;)

    Conversely, someone who isn't even playing that good may stumble upon a bunch of complete noobs, and rake up a ridiculous score by simple virtue that accuracy against stationary targets is really that much better. I've had that kind of experience too.

  • by lostmongoose (1094523) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:40AM (#35019048)

    He sent the details to the parents. Those are the only people he has to convince. Whiny mouth breathers on /. demanding that MS provide proof are not on his list of people he has to convince or impress.

    And arrogant asses like yourself who don't understand than an action like this impacts confidence in Microsoft's service but get modded up anyway by moderators with sand in their vagina over "whiny mouth breathers" (I have allergies, you insensible clod!) are not on the list of people who have anything useful to say.

    Butthurt much? Let me try this one more time, I'll even go slow for you to understand. They. sent. the. details. to. the. parents. These. are. the. only. people. that. matter. Was that slow enough for you? This has nothing to do with *any* of us. You can claim you have an imaginary right to know, because of some half baked claim that it hurts confidence in the service but 40million+ people seem to disagree and go right on using it because they expect cheaters to be dealt with. The parents went screaming and crying to the media because they're douchebags who think the world owes their kid something because he has a problem and the media latch onto shit like this because it gets ratings and outrages people who can't sit for two seconds and think for themselves. If this were a normal Live member who claimed MS did this to him cause he's good at games, people would tell them to stfu and not cheat next time. tl;dr version: It's none of our business what evidence MS has and supplied the parents with.

  • Re:lol (Score:5, Insightful)

    by michelcolman (1208008) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:00AM (#35019188)
    Well, a local TV station did bring this as news, and it's on slashdot, and it will be in lots of other places very soon, so yes, this might warrant slightly more info than a Twitter message.
  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:12AM (#35019336) Homepage Journal

    It looks like you're taking this from tournament play. This kid wasn't in a tournament, he was just playing the online game. There's a huge difference in the number of players to scrutinize here, and it's completely unreasonable to expect direct admin intervention. They're relying solely on automated detection systems at this level.

    However, their apparent complete lack of appeals process is unacceptable, especially when the main process is entirely automatic and subject to false positives.

    Several previous posts have discussed checking game memory for hacks... I very much doubt this was a console hack, judging from the kid. So lets just throw that out right now.

    So with direct admin spotting and memory scrubbing off the list, that leaves two basic routes to get banned. Either statistically improbable scoring, or statistically improbable performance. (similar to your watching for uncharacteristic pointer sensitivity) Autistic kids are well known to live outside the statistical norm, demonstrating (usually mental) seemingly impossible stunts. (the public classics like memorizing sections of telephone books, but that's uncommon) This kid could very easily have an average head-acquisition time of half a second, and still not be able to tie his own shoes. Autistic kids tend to focus on a few or a single thing and shut most other things out, so they grand-master that skill, and are utterly fail at most everything else we take for granted. It's usually something totally useless, but every now and then they hit on something that's actually useful, it's just completely random that way and there's no choosing what it is. MS's anticheat system can't account for this, and doesn't. The fact that they have no serious appeals process is the problem here.

    But that being said, taking it from the other players' perspective, there may be no observable difference between this kid and someone that's using an aimbot. He may also have a very powerful spacial memory allowing him to maintain a picture of the game map in his head, along with all the players, accounting for movement, in real time, which closely resembles a wall hack. For the other players, this kid may have a huge advantage, and for people that come to xbox live for fun, this may really ruin their fun. It'd be like going to the playground for a round of basketball and having michael jordan show up. Maybe neat to watch, but not really that fun if you still want a chance of winning when you play, and most people do.

    So as much as people might not like it, MS may have actually done the right thing for the majority. I don't particularly like that myself, but there it is. I know I personally don't care to sign into a game and see a person on the opposing team that I know is just going to spank everyone on my team including myself for the entire game.

  • by Obyron (615547) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:28AM (#35019466)
    Yes, his undeniable skill at video gaming and the sheer force of his savantism reached out to his Xbox's hard drive and altered checksums in such a way that his account would be flagged as having cheated. You think Microsoft's anti-cheat enforcement is entirely qualitative? They were able to ban one of my consoles for having modified firmware even though I never took it on Live, downloaded DLC, &c. You think they can't spot someone artificially inflating their Gamerscore?

    Take a second, breathe deeply, be intellectually honest with yourself, and apply Occam's Razor. What's more likely: that Microsoft is engaging in an unfair and oppressive campaign against gaming savants (never mind that that's not how autism actually works) at the highest levels of their company, or that an 11 year old cheated at a video game? I find it actually more offensive that everyone's first reaction to this story is that the kid is being oppressed for having autism, which must clearly make him an unstoppable video game ninja, and that we should all be so lucky as to be autistic too.
  • by The Moof (859402) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:56AM (#35019800)

    Whiny mouth breathers on /. that are paying XBox live customers such as myself damn sure better be on his list of people that he has to convince or impress!

    As a paying Xbox Live customer myself, I sure as hell don't want my private information publicly distributed if I'm the subject of an investigation. If I did want it public, I'll be the one distributing the info, not MS. I'm actually really surprised to see people here up in arms that MS isn't distributing the details. If they did, everyone would be up in arms about the "obvious privacy violation."

  • by anyGould (1295481) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @12:14PM (#35020800)

    Here's the timeline as I see it

    1. Little Timmy's account gets tagged for Cheating.
    2. Mom becomes aware of this (either because Timmy complains that he lost all his achievements, or because Mom noticed that his account has CHEATER all over it).
    3. Timmy claims complete and total innocence (note: he may or may not be innocent, but show me a kid who's not going to claim it anyway at this point.)
    4. Mom gets cranky, makes a stink to Microsoft (and then to the media at large, playing the "Poor Disabled Kid" attention card. *
    5. Microsoft replies back to the Mom (whether because of the regular-channel appeal or the media attention, we'll never know) with proof of the cheats.

    At this point, one of three things are happening right now:

    1. Mom and Timmy are arguing with Microsoft about whether it is or isn't really cheating (because of his condition).
    2. Mom is currently tearing a strip off Timmy for not only cheating, but lying about it (and making them look like fools)
    3. Mom (and/or Timmy) is currently tearing a strip off Timmy's friends for installing hacks (with or without Timmy's knowledge)

    I figure, if it's the first, we'll hear about it again in a few days. Otherwise, they're going to quietly hide and hope the media attention goes away.

    * I'm still trying to find a scenario where it actually matters that the kid is autistic (other than a means to get the media attention, or as some sort of "you have to let my son cheat - he's disabled" BS. But maybe I'm just extra-cynical this morning.

  • Re:lol (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ClickOnThis (137803) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @01:41PM (#35021762) Journal

    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.

    They don't have to explain how he cheated. They just have to explain how they know he cheated. For example, his performance on a game might have been statistically anomalous. In which case, one must beware of the Prosecutor's Fallacy [wikipedia.org].

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @02:37PM (#35022402) Journal

    P.S. So in the next round I helped my friends actually cheat by hacking the game's database and producing written spy reports of enemy movements. Ha.

    You weren't a cheater the first time but you are now.

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan

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