Xbox Live Tags 11-Year-Old Autistic Boy a 'Cheater'
The Rainman of 'Halo,' 11-year-old Julius Jackson is apparently a video game whiz. The boy, whose mother says he usually masters games in three to four days, is autistic, and reaches to his Xbox both to socialize and to feel a sense of accomplishment. Having racked up more than 1,500 trophies and accomplishments, Julius, his mother Jennifer Zdenek says, counts the system as "[p]retty much his only friend... because of autism."
It's understandable, then, that, when Julius logged in last week to see his Xbox Live account labeled "cheater," he was devastated. Not only were all of his achievements gone, but he now has a permanent brand under his gamer tag. Julius told local FOX affiliate Q13, "They steal my achievements. They steal all my achievements, that took me, like, 200 days." His mother claims that the mistake occurred because of his innate ability to game, but the scarlet letter of gaming had already been imprinted on the young boy.
When Zdenek reached out to Microsoft, she received a series of characteristically unhelpful answers, and was referred to the mail-only legal department. She eventually received several e-mails with the same vague information, claiming that "cheater" is used when a player uses outside means or hacks to increase a score. She laments, "If you have no friends and you have no life outside of your home and if this is all you do, because of your mental illness, then this is pretty damn upsetting to him." The loss Julius is feeling must be palpable, but we hope he can find contact, companionship and support outside of the XBLA environment, too.