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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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  • what if... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    he just cheated?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Yeah, MS' comments that they "corrected" his Gamerscore, and their prior remarks on the subject in other cheating cases, imply that they can distinguish between achievements obtained legitimately and those obtained by nefarious means. I doubt they simply looked at his score, said "that's impossibly high" and wiped it.

      • 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.
  • 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.

    • Re:lol (Score:5, Informative)

      by SpazmodeusG (1334705) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:17AM (#35018150)
      • 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?

      • Re:lol (Score:5, Interesting)

        by michelcolman (1208008) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:49AM (#35018298)
        Wait a minute... Microsoft says the boy cheated, mother objects, everyone is outraged, 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.
        • 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'.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            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:lol (Score:5, Informative)

            by The MAZZTer (911996) <megazzt@g m a il.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.
            • 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].

        • 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...".

        • 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 Belial6 (794905)
          Do they actually put the words "Cheater" in a publicly visible place? If so, I really have to wonder about judgment of whoever signed off on that. I seems like a series of liable lawsuit just waiting to happen.
      • by Anti Cheat (1749344) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:18AM (#35018864)

        The modern way that cheating is detected is basically simple and yes it is accurate.
        Microsoft has access to the internals of the game code while you play. Here are a few examples of how MS knows if someone cheated.
        All the below are a few examples are checked while the person is playing online.
        1) Look for the actual cheat code in the game memory.
        2) Look for the specific altered values of game code that represent what the cheats modify.
        3) Look for the jump point in the game memory, that the cheat code uses to hide the cheat outside of game memory.
        4) Look to see if a specific file has been altered from what is expected and/or is impossible to have that value(s)
        5) look at the supporting system files the game uses for specific alterations from standard.

        The methods used are accurate in detecting cheaters. I've simplified the full explanation of some and left others out. I've just listed common methods that a lot of people are aware of already. My point here is if these or similar are the methods MS used, then the kid is a cheat.

        It's been my experience that parents just don't want to believe their little Johnnie or Mary is a cheat. Some will once you explain how they were caught but almost as often the parent stays in denial. Denial won't change MS's view or decision however.

        This woman's threat that she will cancel her child's account is a good thing. The first and obvious is that it will remove one more cheater from the on-line game community. It will teach her child a lesson. By the parent canceling the child learns a lesson that cheating has ramifications beyond what MS did to the account. Now the child will learn that just losing achievements was a more just punishment after all and by lying to his mom jut made things worse. Now he can't play online.

        In my opinion MS should have permanently banned this kid from whatever game he got caught cheating in. MS should offer one redemption and that is to buy the game a second time and he can play again unless he is caught once again cheating. If the person does it again then make the ban permanent with no further second chances.

        It's been my experience that showing the cheater that there are significant consequences to their actions, does work. Some are just a little slower on the uptake than others but after a couple of bans they get the message. My experience is based on what I do and it's represented by my /. alias.

    • That mom needs to tiger up.

    • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday January 27, 2011 @09:18AM (#35018868) Journal

      I have no idea what goes on behind the scenes at Microsoft and how they detect and handle cases of cheating. However, for quite a few years during my postgrad days and early years of employment, I was involved on the admin-side of the (PC) online gaming scene, and spent a lot of time dealing with cheaters. I have a few thoughts based on that:

      A ban for just "being too good" is highly improbable, assuming that MS have even mildly competent people working on this. Back when I was running a (major, UK-based) Counter-Strike league, the kindest description of my own level of play would have been "slightly better than average". There were players in the league who could have beaten me with their eyes closed. My admin team contained people who had a range of ability levels, but none of them were top-tier players.

      Adminning top-division games was therefore something that had to be taken very seriously. Accusations of cheating were always rife in CS, though in my experience the actual level of cheating, outside of a relatively small proportion of badly adminned public servers, was never as high as it was commonly perceived to be. Making sure that average players were able to tell whether a top level player was cheating or was just plain good was, therefore, one of the main challenges for an admin team and one that was taken very seriously indeed.

      We had a number of principles in place regarding accusations of cheating (or independent admin suspicions when no accusation had been made). These were:

      1) Any flags raised by the Valve Anti-Cheat were treated as reliable. If VAC says a player is cheating, they are kicked from the match and the league immediately. They can appeal, but would need to show very convincing evidence that there had been a false-positive (nobody ever managed this, all we ever got was "OMG my brother installed cheats").

      2) Knowing that Valve Anti-Cheat was, at the time, fairly easily defeated, admins were expected to know the signs of cheating and to watch for these. We had a library of video clips that all new admins were expected to study, some of which showed players who were using wallhacks or aimbots, others which showed clips that were just of very good players pulling off shots that looked suspicious, but which were recorded at LANs and verified as legitimate.

      3) If an admin suspected that a player in a game he was refereeing was cheating, he did not stop the match or kick players. No bans were given at this stage.

      4) Admins recorded all matches as a matter of policy (both for anti-cheating and because players liked to download the replays later). The admin of the "dodgy" match flagged a concern in private to the senior admins.

      5) 3 other admins, including at least 1 of the senior admins (usually me) scrutinised the demo from the alleged cheater's point of view. There were reliable signs of cheating (as opposed to good or lucky play) that could consistently be spotted. One classic, though by no means the only sign, was an instant-flick moment of the crosshair to an enemy, completely out of line with that player's usual mouse-sensitivity.

      6) If 2 of the 3 other admins (with one of the two being the senior admin) agreed that there was cheating, then the player was banned from the league and the results of games they had played in were overturned (subject to appeal). If there was no consensus, then the original admin who raised the concern was thanked for their diligence (there was no harm in privately flagging suspicious activity - I always encouraged it) and no further action was taken.

      In around 75% of cases, all 3 reviewers would agree that there had been no cheating. In around 95% of cases, 2 of the 3 agreed that there had been no cheating. We averaged around 3 player bans per season, of which 2 were usually as a result of "technical" (ie. VAC) detections. I am confident that none of the "admin" detections that were confirmed were false-positives.

      My point is that this is the degree of scrutiny we applied to what was, for most of its

      • One classic, though by no means the only sign, was an instant-flick moment of the crosshair to an enemy, completely out of line with that player's usual mouse-sensitivity.

        Are you aware that most good bots, at least these days, can be tuned to whatever sensitivity you desire in order to evade detection?

        I play tremulous occasionally, and one of the difficulties of an OS game with no built in anti-cheat is that you never know whos cheating. Is that guy cheating, or is he really able to take people out at close range with a sniper rifle (mass driver)? Is he cheating, or is he consistently taking out top level aliens with the weakest gun due to never missing a bullet?

        You can sp

        • by Crayon Kid (700279) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @10:25AM (#35019432)

          Adding to the GP and P posts: I also play online FPS games, I am an admin with reasonable experience, and, most importantly, [b]I've had the chance to see autistic kids gameplay[/b].

          And here's the thing: before I found out a player was autistic, their manner of play raised all kinds of warning flags for me. There were spurts of uncanny abilities, they wouldn't talk to anybody, they were focusing obsessively on a limited sets of actions (run this exact route, attack at these exact points), they displayed anti-social behavior (attacking their own team) for no apparent reason. My first reaction? What a cheater/asshole combo!

          Has anybody considered how their repetitive/compulsive nature alone may cause autists to deviate from the player norm? Not to mention that about 1 in 10 autists show outstanding abilities ("idiot savant" kind) and about 9 in 10 exhibit enhanced sensory perceptions.

          So I find it strange that most highly-moderated comments so far have completely ignored the fact the kid is autistic and how it may have affected his gameplay. My own experience tells me that unless Microsoft knows for sure he used an actual bug or exploit, I'd take that "cheater" verdict with a BIG grain of salt. I'm fairly confident that an autistic person can trip both automated and human cheater detection. They were designed for regular people.

          • by BobMcD (601576) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @11:08AM (#35019980)

            Sweet. I should have replied to you instead. Yes, this.

            My own son is becoming a gamer, and those patterns you're seeing are exactly, precisely why he plays games at all. He gets in the zone running the same loops over, and over, and over, and over again until he has them nailed down. That precision was honed by countless hours of repetition. (Variety is NOT his thing.) So in that specific skillset, he's going to eventually demonstrate a level of absolute mastery. Popping in another game would put him back to square one, but in his own element, he could really be described as superhuman in his ability.

      • I give you one of my experience.

        There is this game called Power Soccer ( www.PowerChallenge.com) where I used to play. At one point I was having a 100+ win streak and consistently defeating opponents that are 40 levels above ( max level 99) and some clan has decided my existence has endangered their clan domination so they made up some fake screenshot, fake proof and so on trying to get me banned.

        The "straw that broke the camels back" moment comes when someone mis-represented as me posted game hacks on myg0

  • Statistical Model, you failed my Outlier.
    What do you have to say for yourself?

  • by mrthoughtful (466814) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:00AM (#35018060) Journal

    IANAL, (and IANAUSC) but the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 may offer some sort of legal redress, if the mother (or son) are convinced that it is his disability which is affecting his game play.

    • Even in a general sense it seems rather close to libel to label someone like that. Zeroing out scores or limiting functionality is one thing, attaching a label to them publicly seems like asking for trouble.
      • Pretty sure libel or slander has to be done in public to be pursuable - does Xbox Live make your status in these circumstances public or just to the account holder? If it's just the account holder then they have no case.
    • by cappp (1822388)
      You're asking a really interesting question - and one that the courts haven't really addressed yet, as far as I know. The ADA [ada.gov] specifically forbids discrimination in the enjoyment of certain kinds of activity - notably those defiend as "public accomodations."

      (a) General Rule. No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who

      • 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.

    • by ikkonoishi (674762) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @08:15AM (#35018414) Journal

      If you find that a legless man is hiding items in his wheelchair you can still kick him out of your store.

  • 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]
    • 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?

      • It is if the twittererer (sorry, don't know this modern lingo - the guy who is twittering) is the head of MS's XBox Live policy and enforcement: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Toulouse [wikipedia.org]
        • by reub2000 (705806)

          Yeah, it was clear that policy and enforcement thinks he is a cheater. Otherwise they wouldn't have labeled him a cheater. That tweet adds no new details.

          • They can't add details. Thats private information. The information was given to the mother, and she didn't share it.

          • by JoelKatz (46478)

            Umm, no. It was not clear that Microsoft's policy and enforcement ever considered the possibility that the boy was an unusually good player that made it appear that he had cheated. Now, it's clear that the head of P&E personally analyzed this case, specifically checking for the possibility that the boy may have had unusual skills and put his reputation behind the conclusions that the boy definitely cheated.

            This makes the mother's original claim totally implausible. She said Microsoft made a particular t

            • 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.
      • as opposed to just believing the person claiming "no honestly i didnt do anything wrong"?

      • 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.

  • What if he's just a savant (at video games)? Then he'd be exceptional, to the point where it would look, to an observer, like a cheater.

    • 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.

  • I don't get it. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@@@gmail...com> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:03AM (#35018082) Homepage Journal

    Can someone explain to me how it's even possible to "cheat" in Microsoft's little walled playground? I thought that was the whole point of a closed console network.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      There are various tricks, all the way back to the original Xbox. Microsoft's policy has always been to learn detect them and punish people using them, rather than apply technical measures to fix them that might disrupt other people's gameplay.

    • 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.

  • What benefits do I get from gamer points? Does it give me extra Live hours? More M$ dollars points to buy add-ons? Prizes? A barrel of monkeys? More lotto drawings for free tickets to visit the Naked & Petrified Natalie Portman Exhibit at the Pimple Popper Expo?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      It's a score. You earn points and your score goes up. You can compare your score to your friends. Or you can ignore it. Pretty much the same way games worked in the 1980s, but applied at a platform level rather than a game one.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:09AM (#35018110) Journal
    Given the relatively closed state of the Xbox360(some known exploits for rather old firmwares; but not much available for the newest ones and aggressive banning of detected modified units from XBL by Microsoft) and the Xbox Live service, what are the avenues of cheating that would motivate them to use what are presumably statistical outlier detection models?

    Are there individual game glitches that are considered to be "cheating" if used? Are there third-party controllers that have some equivalent of the good old "turbo" button(and some game that fails to control max fire rates, now that actual computing power is available)? Is there, in fact, a reasonable population of hacked xboxes running modified binaries that allow any of the classic PC gaming cheaters' tricks(see-through walls, etc.)? Do the requirements of low latency over domestic connections mean that some or most games leave themselves open to packet modification tricks?

    Has somebody gone to the trouble of building a machine vision +input emulation system capable of delivering mathematically optimal play for certain games?

    I know Microsoft bans modded hardware, and I know unmodded hardware won't execute unblessed binaries or talk to unblessed peripherals(unless, possibly, the correctly emulate the behavior of blessed ones), so why is "cheater" a distinct category from "banned"?
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      what are the avenues of cheating that would motivate them to use what are presumably statistical outlier detection models?

      You assume wrong: the "cheater" flag is for specific technical cheats that they can detect. My understanding is that the go-to cheat for boosting one's gamerscore is to copy someone else's savegame with the achievements unlocked. If it's anything like the original Xbox, the savegame is signed with the console's unique ID, so it's trivial to figure out whether someone's saved game was the

    • 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.

  • by Dr. Tom (23206) <tomh@nih.gov> on Thursday January 27, 2011 @07:12AM (#35018122) Homepage
    I once played an online game where you could set the robotic factories to building robotic factories, and then after a while switch them over to building ships. In one turn you could produce a huge fleet out of nowhere. When I did this, the game designers were convinced I had cheated because "there's no other way you could get that many ships." They didn't understand their own game, or how exponential growth works. Explaining this didn't help, I was banned.
    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.
  • 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.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      In that case they should do what MS did in this instance, and only treat specific, outside-of-game manipulation of the score as a cheat, and leave the rest up to game design and balance.

    • 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.

  • Incoming in 3 ... 2 ...
    • Only if the cheater label was made public by Microsoft - was it? If it's a private label applied to just the views the account holder can see, then there is no case to be made. I'm not sure how MS applies the label.
  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • 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 yoshi_mon (172895) on Thursday January 27, 2011 @04:22PM (#35023598)

    Years ago when I played RoN a lot I was a above average player. Good enough to be in some of the better clans and thus had recognition in the community but I still was not in the top tier of players. I had a few specific strengths that even allowed me at times to compensate in team games on a higher level than I would have been 1v1 but that is an aside.

    In a RTS like RoN a part of the game was matching up 1v1 with people in rated games. And I did so often and as such played a pretty full spectrum of players in such a way. RoN while having its flaws was kept pretty balanced and most of the games that were played rated 1v1 were random civs and random land maps to boot keeping all the players on their toes. (I always would fight to play full random maps and thus force people to fight on the sea as well but anywhoo.)

    In playing those games I would every now and then allow myself to be fodder for one of the high end players. One game in particular comes to mind. I had drawn a, this is in the context of 1v1, random strong civ and he had drawn one of the weaker ones. The map was pretty for both of us so overall I had the advantage.

    He came at me early and strong. Microing his units well and forced me on the defensive while my early raids suffered because I had to spend my attention to his raiding. He leveled faster and boomed better than me. In short he outplayed me rather well and while I put up a good fight he won.

    When playing such games I remember thinking at times, how the hell are they doing that!? And had I not known a lot about the game and the state of what type of cheating was possiable in RoN (very little to none) I think it might have been human nature to assume that my opponent was cheating. When in reality I was just getting outplayed by orders of magnitude.

    And here is the kicker. RoN like many RTS games allowed you to record every game you played so you could go back and watch your opponent to see exactly what they did. When I would watch the records of the games I played vs the higher level players I could understand what they were doing but was simply unable to replicate it myself. They were better players than me and that was ok. But even I will admit that at times when I would be playing and see myself getting out played to a degree beyond what I even expected I would wonder if there was some sort of cheating involved.

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