Posted on January 27, 2011, Phil Hornshaw Xbox Live Thinks Autistic Kid’s Skills Must Be Cheating
Xbox Live doesn’t tolerate cheaters, apparently, so much so that in putting the hammer down on achievement cheaters online, they’ve seemingly caught an innocent kid and stripped him of his online accolades.
Jennifer Zdenek of Seattle says that’s what happened to her 11-year-old son, Julius Jackson, who has autism. Julius had racked up 1,500 achievements on Xbox Live over the course of his play, but woke up one day to find that Microsoft had branded him a cheater and his achievements had disappeared.
According to a report from Q13 Fox News (and yes, I’m wondering why this was on the news in Seattle, too), Zdenek contacted Xbox Live to explain the situation — Julius, it seems, just plays a lot and is good — and she got the runaround, she says. Microsoft reps told her via email that the “Cheater” designation is handed out to people who get achievements through the use of external means — hacking. Seems unlikely the 11-year-old is hacking his Xbox 360 to boost achievements, but that’s what Microsoft seems to have reason to believe.
From the emails quoted in the story, it doesn’t sound like Microsoft is budging on the situation (at least, not until it gets wind of all this bad press):
The only actions that we take are to correct the player’s current Gamerscore, and to label the player as a “cheater.” This label can be observed on Xbox.com and through the player’s view of their Gamercard on a console or computer that is connected to Xbox LIVE. The player can still legitimately gain future achievements. The player’s experience does not change in any other way.
The sad part is, Zdenek says Xbox Live is a key part of Julius’ life and his ability to interact with other people and express himself outside of his home and school.