Meet Aaron "coldraccoon" Mesec, an 18-year-old Xbox 360 owner from Murrieta, California. He's a gamerscore cheater.
He's a former cheater -- or so he now claims to MTV Multiplayer.
Mesec was one of the gamers caught during Microsoft's attempt last week to reign in gamerscore cheaters. Microsoft won't say how many people have, like Mesec, been branded with a "Cheater" tag, had their questionable Achievements stripped and their gamescores re-set. But I've heard that the number of users whose gamerscores were reset wasn't more than a few handfuls. The punishment is meant as a message to others.
And it appears to have worked on Mesec. "The cheating days are over for me. I just want to kick back and enjoy gaming again," he told us over the weekend.
If that's true, why did he start cheating in the first place?
After Microsoft revealed their new approach, I wanted to chat with a cheater. Xbox Cheater Watch, an unofficial website tracking possible gamerscore cheaters, pointed me in the right direction. I sent requests to more than 10 cheaters, but Mesec was the only one to respond.
"I started cheating, I guess, because I got addicted to gamer score completion," Mesec said over e-mail. "This means that I must finish the game 1000 [out of 1000 achievement points]. I would play through the game and get the basic Achievements, then do some saves or glitches to get the rest. I started because I wanted more and more gamerscore."
He's not alone. 1UP editorial director Dan Hsu told me he spent more than five hours playing through the epilogue mission in "Call of Duty 4" on the veteran difficulty to unlock the last Achievement. Five hours! He eventually gave up.
Mesec would download game saves from community websites that unlocked all of a game's achievements in seconds. While Shoe's addiction lead him to spend countless hours tackling extreme achievements, Mesec exploited game saves simply because it was "a piece of cake to cheat." It didn't start that way, though. When Mesec purchased his Xbox 360, he was a legit player for achievements.
"It’s when they started coming out with hard games with HARD achievements is when I started," he said. While he can't remember the first game he used cheats on, "Lost Planet" was one of them. He couldn't complete the game on the extreme difficulty level. The last game he cheated on? "Dynasty Warriors 6." Since his gamerscore was wiped, however, he hasn't played a game over Xbox Live.
Microsoft's gamerscore reset prevents cheaters from going back and legitimately unlock "cheated" achievements on a second playthrough. But because Mesec's gamerscore is now near zero, he wouldn't mind going through some of those games again.
Mesec said the experience has made him a "reformed" gamer and actually thanks Microsoft for the push. "I would have probably kept cheating if Microsoft hadn’t reset my score cause it seemed so easy and it got way to addicting," he told me.
Mesec said he can't afford to purchase another gamertag with an XBL gold subscription and he's received "millions of [XBL] messages from friends and people I don't know laughing on how I cheat."
He told us he's excited to read this article, though, so either he's a glutton for punishment or really on the road to gamerscore legitimacy.
Readers, do you know any cheaters? If caught, will they still cheat?