Xbox LIVE labels autistic boy cheater for being too good a gamer

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May 17, 2021, 4:50 PM EDT (Updated)

Julius Jackson, an 11-year-old autistic boy, has done well for himself in Xbox LIVE, and in 200 days has racked up 1500 game achievements. Unfortunately, Xbox LIVE thinks he's played too well ... and removed his achievements. They have also labeled him "cheater."

As Kotaku wrote, "[T]he experience [of playing Xbox Live] definitely changes every time someone sees that label lurking beneath Julias' gamertag."

His mother, Jennifer Zdenek, is understandably furious. Q13Fox wrote:

She says her Xbox LIVE has served as some of her son's only interaction outside of school and has devastated him. She argues her son did not cheat in any way, and earned his "achievements" solely from his hard work and hours logged online.

"It disgusts me that they did this to my child," Zdenek said.

John Ordover, who wrote two episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and has an autistic son, said, "It's extremely unlikely that the boy was cheating. He simply outthought, outplayed and outlasted not just the other players but also the programmers themselves. This boy probably has the attention to detail, focus and visual processing necessary to easily accomplish what so-called normal people could not. Also, it wouldn't occur to an autistic child to cheat."

Xbox LIVE has not banned Julius from the game, only removed his achievements—and made the "cheater" label permanent.

Zdenek has contacted Xbox LIVE, yet has not been able to return Julius' account to its previous state.

Kotaku emailed Xbox LIVE and received the following response:

"Gamerscore resets are done when cheating is detected to keep LIVE fun, fair and safe for everyone. We only do them when we are 100% confident that cheating has occurred, and they are not something that can be appealed. Details can be found here."

Ordover offers some advice for the Xbox LIVE team: "If you want to create a game that's a challenge for an autistic child, you'll have to hire an autistic programmer."

For the original news clip, see below: