Autistic boy branded 'cheater' on X-Box

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011 ( 9 moms have responded )

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EDGEWOOD, Wash. -- Imagine being so good at a video game, even Microsoft notices your talent. In this case, the attention didn't turn out to be a good thing for one autistic boy.

For 11-year-old Julius, playing X-Box is the highlight of his day.

"Julius can't play sports," says his mother Jennifer Zdenek. "He went to basketball school, couldn't take the basketball because he thought it was stealing someone's toy, so this is it."

He's a quick study, often mastering a game in 3 to 4 days. He calls his online fellow gamers his friends.

But five days ago, Julius logged on and saw that he was being called a cheater.

"Everybody thinks I'm a cheater," said Julius.

"… and he didn't understand," said Jennifer. She's been e-mailing and calling Microsoft to try to find out how her son got the label that is now right beside his name for all of his friends to see.

"This has affected him emotionally. He's branded a cheater and to him, autism, that's like a sin to him," said Jennifer.

Microsoft tells us they have the ability to look into accounts and, while it might not have been Julius or his mother, they are confident someone tampered with the account to boost his gaming score. At this point, his mother wants the word cheater gone and Julius wants to go back to tackling video game monsters, not labels.

Microsoft says a gamer can earn back the achievements by playing the game and gaining them as every other fair player does.

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Caitlin - posted on 01/27/2011

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My question is why does the autism have to be a big issue here. I know they are more sensitive to labels and have utmost respect for following the rules for the most part, but that's not really the issue in my mind. Microsoft shouldn't have to bend over backwards just because the kid is autistic, they should look into the situation because it affects the integrity of their operating system and they should attempt to rectify the situation, not because the boy is autistic, but because its their responsibility to ensure that their products are not used for malicious purposes.

I don't really know how the online gaming system thing works, but shouldn't it be the responsiblity of the family to ensure to the best fo their abilities that their end of the connection is secure. I know nothing is infalliable, but there are security measures one can take to make sure the network and system is secure. I good password for one of course. I play World of Warcraft, and I am responsible for the safety of my account. If it's hacked and it's my fault, then I have to redo it from the start. The story is too one sided for me to know what really happened, but the fact that microsoft said to restart it all signals to me that the security issue wasn't on their side, but on the console side.

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Caitlin - posted on 01/27/2011

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Well, we dont' really know if microsoft looked into the issue, but from the report it seemed like they did check the time stamps, but they can't prove who was logged on and when. There are tons of reasons for people to hack accounts, doesn't matter if you are a kid of adult.. the kids accounts make it easier because their passwords are easier to crack. I dont' agree Microsoft should just put everything back though, maybe remove the cheating label, but they can't relaly prove which scores are real or fake and which acheivements legit. I'm aware it affects an autistic child more, my point was more that Mocrosoft should pay as much attention to a non autistic kid that has this happen, and the fact it's an autistic kid makes it news worthy apparently..

Sharon - posted on 01/27/2011

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The story is one sided.

And autism is the big deal because this affects an autistic child more so than a "normal" child. The damage done is longer lasting, harder to fix.

I agree that being a called cheater for no reason would hurt even a 'normal' child.

You're an adult. If someone hacked your account I'd be hugely surprised though. Someone hacking a childs' account? Would surprise me more and less.

Microsoft was wrong in this and they aren't responding to help out either.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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my son hacked something on a NASA website when he was 4...I had been reading an article on the site, walked away to get a drink...came back and my computer was running some kind of Matrix looking shit......I went back to the page he was on and NOTHING I found or clicked on would make the computer go Matrix again....to this day, I have no idea what he did.
We set parental controls after that....
LOL!
he's amazing on the computer..
It takes him about 10 minutes to figure out (on his own - you're not allowed to help or 'show him how') and beat the games on his Leapster Explorer.....and @ 25 bucks a pop....it's getting costly.
He's gone thru 3 games since his birthday....and that was this past Sunday.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/27/2011

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WOW! I know autistic children tend to have a knack at certain things....I am sure video games being one for some. Maybe he hacked, maybe not. Who cares? This is something that he enjoys very much. Why try to ruin it for him becouse he may be better than others? He can't play sports, and other social interactions may be difficult for him. I hope this is cleared up for his sake. He may have to prove himself...but if he has a brand like that, he may not want to play. It may ruin it for him. Too bad. What a shame.

Jocelyn - posted on 01/27/2011

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I'm on the fence, sure it could be an honest mistake by the company, but I also know that many autistic kids are computer wizzes, so I believe that he COULD be capable of hacking the systems. But still, the "cheater" label is really low.

[deleted account]

That sucks! My best friend stays up at night sometimes practicing her autistic 9 year old son's favorite video game trying to get good enough to beat him.....

If they don't have concrete proof of cheating.... being GOOD does not mean he cheated.

Sharon - posted on 01/27/2011

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I'm a little worried about the boy.

I never liked the x-box anyway, we have a PS3. i already pay for internet wtf should I pay a GAME company to use my own damned connection?

Labeling him a cheater was low. However I did read some comments - a couple of people say getting that label isn't easy and they don't just slap onto people. There has to be some proof, like conflicting time stamps for accomplishments. hacking their system...not sure how they prove that but frankly those are just flaws with the x-box system. Not the kid.

They need to make this right, restore his accomplishments, take the label off, 'cause thats just fucked up, (people will avoid playing with him online), IF he has conflicting timestamps - give him the option of chosing the 'real one' and taking the other away and let him earn it honestly.

THAT is how you handle a real cheater. Not a label that demeans him publicly when he already has issues.

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