Julias Jackson is an 11-year-old boy living with autism, whose only real social interaction comes from playing online multiplayer games on Xbox Live, an activity that became more difficult when the Xbox Live team branded him a cheater.
Autism is a neural development disorder that is often associated with a lack of social and communication skills and a habit of participating in repetitive behaviour. The disorder changes the way the brain processes information, altering the way nerve cells and synapses come together. Sometimes this reorganisation can lead to a person with autism excelling at certain tasks, like video games.
Julias' mother, Jennifer Zdenek, says that the boy is a particularly gifted gamer, often mastering games in three to four days, while using what I feel I should point out is the dirtiest Xbox 360 controller I've ever seen. Dirty controller or not, Julias managed to rack himself up an impressive little gamerscore.
Last week Julias logged on to play and his gamerscore was gone, and under his name was the label "Cheater". Apparently he's so good at games that Xbox Live believes he's using external aid to help him win.
His mother was understandably furious. She called and emailed Xbox Live, receiving the following email message no less than three times.
"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."
Future achievements can be gained, yes, but the experience definitely changes every time someone sees that label lurking beneath Julias' gamertag.
His mother will keep trying to get the error fixed, but if Xbox Live doesn't come through soon she's considering cancelling Julias' account, cutting off one of the autistic boy's only social outlets.
We've reached out to the Xbox Live team regarding this story, and are currently awaiting a response. We'll update the post once that response is received.
Xbox Live Labels Autistic Boy "Cheater" [Fox Seattle KPCQ - Thanks John!]