Websites the world over took up arms late last week over the sad tale of an 11 year old autistic boy being banned from Xbox Live and being labeled a cheater.  His mother was outraged and immediately reached out for media attention, requesting that Microsoft repair the gamerscore and remove the cheater label.

Today however, it’s been reported that the kid did in fact “unintentionally” take part in gamerscore-modding and here’s the response from MS’s Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen Toulouse…

“The account Zombie Kill67 transferred from the Xbox it is normally seen on, to an Xbox in another city. The account earned several achievements for Halo 3 that can only be done online and in succession. It was clear they were unlocked out of order and offline. Earning successive online achievements out of order and offline is an impossible feat, not due to skill, but due to the technology of the system. It can only be done by modifying the account and faking the achievements.”

Click here for the full FOX News story (factual for once).

There’s quite some food for thought here.  Autism is a serious issue and parents of children afflicted by it should be accorded great respect. What shines out of the above video is the mother’s commitment to Julius’ gaming as a social outlet and her son’s clearly debilitating affliction. In the face of this, it feels wrong to make the issue about how we handle cheating. All Julius did was let his gamerscore be modded to he could achieve a piece of Recon armour through Halo Waypoint and I can understand that neither he nor his mother would even be aware of the consequences should he be caught. Does his mental capacity protect him from such behaviour?

To maintain the integrity of the achievement system, it is important that Microsoft bans those who seek to cheat their way around it. Gamerscore can be approached in several ways, as a personal performance driver, a competition between friends or as a giant swinging e-peen for online forums, it holds a different meaning to each player. Growing up with games, I knew that the second I entered a cheat code, maybe IDDQD (God Mode for the original Doom), the sense of challenge was lost, and once used it was too hard to turn off the minute a challenge did rear its head. If Microsoft didn’t crack down on cheating then all three of the above approaches are voided (personal performance being voided ala IDDQD). It’s easy at this point to ask why Microsoft can’t overturn the ban on this one occasion, but it’s equally easy to understand why they haven’t.

If they overturn the ban here they’ll have a hundred copycat claims the following day along with a wide range of excuses and reasons (real or otherwise) and unless Microsoft wishes to hire their own team of globe-trotting psychiatrists this is unlikely to ever happen. Maybe someone could hack Kinect and create some sort of bullshit detector? Mind you, the Kinect would probably then delete itself out of existence.

It appears Julius is determined to make up ground and is currently showing a gamerscore of 40 from Halo Reach and I’m sure we all wish him well in the journey.

Do you think it’s fair that Julius was labeled a cheater and had his gamerscore reset? Do you think gamerscore warrants such tight controls? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter – @DarkMellie.


  1. As far as I’m concerned, autistic or not, he did intentionally have his Gamerscore modded. Regardless of his mental state that is grounds for a banhammer to come down, and I agree wholeheartedly of the consequence.

    Good job Microsoft.

  2. I’m an autistic person, and I agree with citruspop – the boy’s condition is beside the point. His actions amounted to cheating. Even if he wasn’t aware of what he was doing, his mother certainly was (or should have been). She’s the responsible adult in the situation. Presumably Microsoft asks for parental permission for children under a particular age? That’s the reason.

    What I find particularly offensive about this story is that the mother used the boy’s autism as an obvious attempt to get attention and even sympathy from a largely-ignorant public. Yes, autism is a serious issue, but it’s not an excuse for bad behaviour. It’s not a way of avoiding consequences for our actions. At least, that’s what I was always taught.

  3. As the parent of an autistic child whose perseverative interests include gaming, I can assure you that regardless of the child’s age and diagnosis, he’s old enough to know right from wrong. Studies have shown that autistics, because of their rigid thinking and adherence to rules, are less likely to break rules even when it’s for personal gain.

    But that doesn’t seem to stop some sdults with AS and some parents of autistic children from using autism spectrum disorder as an excuse for bad behaviour.

    Even Gary McKinnon’s mom, Janis Sharp, is using his AS diagnosis — 7 years after he hacked into almost 100 NASA and US government computers — as an excuse for his behaviour. What McKinnon’s followers don’t tell the public is that he was a successful and employed systems Administrator in his mid-30s when he hacked those computers in 2001 and 2002. All they’re trotting out is that he’s a “poor sufferer of Asperger’s Syndrome.”

    Bad behaviour starts early. It starts with making excuses for cheating when a kid isn’t a teen yet and it continues with making excuses for hacking when the kid is a 30 something adult.

    • Asperger’s is NOT your typical Autism. They are MUCH higher functioning.Not only that, you are NOT the parent of an autistic child. 
      You WOULD be an advocate. You are a lying child.  PERIOD.

    • Well, when you have an autistic child of your own, you may change your mind. Why don’t you volunteer to work with autistic children? Give it a try…

  4. I find this article hilariously offensive. Basically what the author is trying to promote is positive discrimination. It’s like saying that someone ho takes steroids for health reasons is allowed to enter an athletic competition. I’m not saying that achievements are skill based, but that to apply special rules for people because they are different is digusting. Also, what level of autism does the child have, and does the author except Microsoft to visit peoples house’s to assess their customers mental or physical status?!

    • Duder, I’d love to see you explain that absolute standard to the kid, I’m sure he’d really be able to appreciate the nuance. Watch the video if you’d like to get a feel for his condition.

      I’ll also refer you to the paragraph in my review where I say “if they overturn the ban here they’ll have a hundred copycat claims the following day along with a wide range of excuses and reasons (real or otherwise) and unless Microsoft wishes to hire their own team of globe-trotting psychiatrists this is unlikely to ever happen.”

      And hell son, if you find that article hilariously offensive, tune in next week when I advise gay gamers to swap their mouse and keyboard around because their limp left-wrists are making them shit at FPS.

  5. While they surely should not condone the behavior the fact that the kid is clearly autistic something the mother could have proven to them with an envelope a stamp and some paperwork (as i’m sure there would be multiple doctors letters records around the home etc)means that this should have never made it to tv in the first place. Give the kid back his achievements minus the Armour and the hacked achievements get the mother to sign an NDA (i’m sure Microsoft has quite a few) and hey presto customer service.

  6. Fucking retard spastic cunt.
    No excuses, put the fucking dribbling retard down with a shot to the head.
    He’s no fucking use to anyone.
    All that will happen is he’ll be on benefits his whole life.
    Kill the freak now.
    Hitler had the right idea. LOL !!!!

  7. I think there is a point here that everyone is over looking… Halo comes with a Mature rating (meaning age 17+ should only be playing). This child is only 11, he shouldnt have even been playing halo in the first place…

  8. i 100% agee with microsoft’s decision. Now beforew you retards start flaming me hear me out. This review says that the mod was for gamerscore. BULLCRAP! It also said it was for halo 3’s ‘recon’ helmet in ehich 6 vidmaster acheiviments are needed. however the vidmasters are worth 0 gamerscore. so why would it enhance is gamerscore. He is basicly getting banned without any sense of reward EXCEPT th recon.

  9. Personally I think he should recieve no special treatment. He won’t recieve any in the real world and because he is Autistic. It doesn’t say to what degree he has the disease he could have a high functioning form of Autism that does not affect his life as much as some people would like to make it seem. The fact that he has the mental capacity to play a game like hale i think is enough prove that he had an idea of what he was doing and that it was wrong.

    And i just wanted to make fun of falloutfan123 – Recon takes seven vidmasters and only Three are worth 0 gamerscore the other four are worth 25 gamerscore each

    • He does receive special treatment in the real world because he is autistic. First familiarize yourself with the subject so you don’t sound like an ignorant fool and embarrass yourself.