5 Oddball Aspects Of Gaming's Strangest Streamer Controversy
Over the past year and a half, a faceless Minecraft creator by the name of Dream has rapidly developed a rabid cult following. We're talking about his YouTube audience sky-rocketing from 1.2k subscribers to a jaw-dropping 16.6 million "rapidly." Dream is a speedrunner well known for his series "Minecraft Manhunt," where he attempts to speedrun the game while his friends try to stop him.
Recently he's found himself in hot water by way of a cheating allegation by the Minecraft Java speedrunning moderation team (Yes, that's a real thing. No, you shut up.) for a few of his submissions. What might seem like a standard bout of accusations and denials ended up being one of the oddest controversies in gaming ...
Official Moderators Determined He Was Lucky ... Too Lucky
Dream completed a series of speedruns on a Twitch stream, one of which ended up being a good enough time to take a fifth-place record (specifically on the 1.16 java edition speedruns). The reason why he had his runs looked at was because Dream got lucky. Really lucky. Like a 5'1'' Italian (with the non-sexy accent) plumber from Brooklyn shacking up with a super-model princess that has her own multi-castle kingdom lucky.
So the moderator team ended up reviewing Dream's speedruns as a result of his luck. There are a lot of other little details and reasons why, but most of this comes down to how repeatedly lucky he got on these RNG (randomly generated number) events. It gets a little math-y here.
Here's the whole video if you want 20 questionable minutes instead of a wrap-up.
To beat Minecraft, there are two items you have to get: blaze rods and ender pearls. Getting these items are based on the games coded random chance, so while you are guaranteed to eventually get them, it takes a little bit of luck to get them quickly. How easily and quickly Dream got these items is where the suspicions came in. Blaze rods you get from killing Blazes -- fireball hurling monsters that have roughly a 50% chance of dropping a blaze rod when you kill them. You need a total of seven of them. Dream killed a total of nine blazes in his fifth-place run, and the first eight of those nine dropped blaze rods. As far as coin flips go -- that's pretty lucky. (Shit; should have saved the Mario analogy for the coins.)
The second thing he needs is ender pearls. If you're speedrunning, you're looking for about 10-12 of these. Basically, you get these ender pearls by trading a piece of gold with this creature called a Piglin, and there's a chance that they'll give you a handful of these ender pearls in exchange (four to seven). So you'll usually get 10 ender pearls after two successful trades, but not always. The key here is that the odds of you getting any amount of ender pearls is 10 : 459 ... and Dream got two successful trades to get him exactly 10 ender pearls after just three attempts.
The moderators decided to review his gameplay to see if there was a chance that he modified the drop rates to have a faster time. They analyzed all the drop rates from his runs from that stream, and what did they determine? Dream was lucky. So lucky that the odds of this happening at all was 1 in 7.5 trillion at best. The number is so absurd that it spawned mountains of meme content for the community. From creating videos of "Dream Speedruns" where the player is clearly and obviously cheating but trying to pass it off as luck ...
... to making jokes about things that are more likely to happen to you than one of Dream's successful speedrun.
The mod team decided that the luck was so good, it is probable that he cheated -- invalidating his run and removing it from the leaderboard ...
Dream Had Receipts
Now, obviously, Dream did not take too kindly to the accusations of cheating and wanted vindication. Rather than fight the ruling directly or just deny the claims like many others have done -- he took it one step further. In his response video, Dream revealed that he did something borderline crazy for the sake of defending your character when it comes to ... playing Minecraft. He hired a professor at an accredited university with a Ph.D. from Harvard, who is both a practicing astrophysicist and an expert in statistics, to run the numbers and fact check the moderators at their own statistical game. The statistician then published what is basically a 19-page thesis breaking down the math and showing every single mistake they made wrong.
Less detailed defenses have been made before the Supreme Court.
So what did this Ph.D. find? The moderator team was off by at least 7.49999 trillion in their estimation. Dreams luck was less like 1 : 7,500,000,000,000 and more like 1 : 100,000,000. Now admittedly, this is still incredibly lucky, but, after looking at the numbers out of the context of being a part of the Minecraft community, the moderators' original math was off by a factor of 75,000. That's not an insignificant amount of error; that's a teen returning from summer camp exaggeration of hook-ups amount of mathematical disconnect. The astrophysicist concluded, "Even in the worst case, the probabilities are not so extreme as to rule out that Dream used the normal probabilities."
It's Still Not Entirely Clear Who Was Right
And here's where we reach a speedrun of allegations going back and forth, such as Dream pointing out that the moderators are volunteers and students rather than someone who is paid and experienced in doing this sort of math. While counter to that point, the so-called statistical expert that Dream hired never actually revealed their name in any documentation to show that their expertise claims were valid.
The moderator team also arguably discounted the full data set, only using the six luckiest attempts during his streams, and removed the five unluckier data sets that took place during the stream but before Dream's mid-stream break. The hired expert referred to this as cherry-picking, but some members of the r/statistics subreddit believe that including runs outside of the lucky streak is really necessary to model the run.
Mods also based their statistics on the lucky event happening to someone who also happened to be a top 1,000 speedrunner who also happened to be streaming while the lucky events took place, rather than the odds of this happening to anyone playing Minecraft. Dream alleges that this unfairly biases the data against him, as that would dramatically decrease the odds of that being the case because of the nature of the specificity.
The expert also said in their analysis that the modeling was overall done improperly and full of mistakes, but in a response paper from the moderator team, they pointed out errors in the expert's modeling. They went on to state that even if they accepted the expert's analysis, the odds being 1 : 100,000,000 is slim enough to suggest that Dream was using a modified game for that speedrun.
The Community Did The Most Unimaginable 180
Dream has garnered a lot of hate on the internet as part of his rising popularity. I mean, since when has the internet not hated on success? It seemed that as soon as it was announced that Dream cheated, the community was very quick to turn on their newly raised icon and give him loads of hate. But then Dream played the UNO Reverse card of the decade, and the fans rallied back behind him as quickly as they abandoned him. Many people reported having their commentary about the scandal buried because Dream Stans were downvoting and disliking any content that could be considered critical of Dream.
It wasn't just the community that flipped for Dream. One of the moderators, Willz, came out in support of Dream. In the original allegation video, the moderator Geosquare alleged that Dream was not forthcoming with information and even went so far as to delete evidence. According to Dream, though, that was never the case. He counterclaimed that the evidence asked for was provided, and on top of that, the essential evidence wasn't even asked for until two weeks into the investigation. Willz came in and confirmed Dream's statement that he was cooperative with the investigation, saying, "As a Moderator that has done 99% of the communication between Dream, I can confirm there was absolutely no hesitation to provide us what was needed."
His First For Fun Speedrun Following The Controversy Was Incredibly Lucky ... Again
In what is possibly the most hilarious follow up to this controversy, Dream took to Twitch to speedrun again. This time, saying that he will not be submitting any runs, insisting that he speedruns because he gets personal enjoyment out of it, and even if he has a good run, he won't submit it.
During the stream, after Dream collects his necessary blaze rods, his co-streamer, GeorgeNotFound, tells him he still needs to get ender pearls. "Don't worry," Dream replies, "I have a mod for that."
In what may have been a joke of prophetic proportions, lightning strikes twice again, and in the first three trades, Dream gets all the ender pearls he needs. Freaking out, he refuses to complete the run and continues to trade gold with the Piglins. Going so far as to eventually turn on in-game cheats, invalidating the run, and spawning in more gold for him to trade with, so he can show that the probabilities are still what they are supposed to be and he is not cheating.
(Skip to 6:45 for the relevant section)
Maybe Dream isn't a cheater after all, or maybe he forgot to uninstall his modpack after getting caught. Either way, this controversy will likely continue to make its rounds through the Minecraft community and continue to spawn memes, reaction videos, and questionable use of Ivy League degrees for the foreseeable future.
Top Image: Mojang