2020 has been a great year for Dream, a Minecraft personality that gained millions of followers so quickly that YouTube named him the number one breakout star of the year. Dream is also number two on the list of the best YouTube creators of the year. All this attention and acclaim has come from his wildly popular speedrun videos, where he competes against others Minecraft players to finish the game as quickly as possible, sometimes setting records. But now the people who keep that data are disputing it.
Video game records are maintained by speedrun.com, which keeps track of the different categories and runners competing for spots. The moderation team will supervise in mid-December Minecraft records came together and released a 14-minute video that summarizes a two-month study regarding a 5th place submitted by Dream earlier this year. It’s meant to be an introduction to a much longer document, formatted as a research paper that breaks down all of the high-level math the team did to verify Dream’s speedrun.
The paper is a whopping 29 pages long and contains a variety of graphs and concessions that take into account possible bias. Geosquared, one of the team’s moderators, tells Polygon that the group is made up of volunteers studying math and computer science, which might explain the thoroughness and format of the report. Geosquared is a sufficiently important authority on the subject that it was officially taken up by Mojang Minecraft website.
Before we get into the details of what is being disputed, it is important to note that Dream itself categorically denies all allegations. On TwitterDream has said he takes the time to provide a “quality” response to the video above, while also noting that specific minor claims in the video are false.
“Sad to see people jump on the hate car before hearing an opposite point of view,” he wrote on Twitter. “That is exactly how the internet works!” Dream did not respond to a request for comment.
So what’s so controversial here? The video it’s all about is a speed run where Dream is incredibly lucky in a way that many deem, if not impossible, then at least extremely unlikely. Without getting bogged down in the details, the gist is getting to the very end Minecraftyou need two specific items. The fastest way to get one of the items is to trade with Piglins, in-game creatures that give you something random when you trade gold bars. There is only a 5% chance that a Piglin will give you the specific thing you need to make the item needed to activate Minecraft‘Sending. The second item has slightly better odds, with a specific crowd having a 50% chance of dropping the object after it is killed.
In Flight – which was broadcast live at the time of completion – Dream is successfully traded for the main item 42 out of 262 times, while 211 of his total Mafia murders dropped the second necessary item. In the video, the team admits that a small data set can’t confirm the true odds of the results – just because you flip a coin 10 times, say, doesn’t mean you get exactly 5 heads and 5 tails. But then the team went ahead and actually took possible bias into account, and even by giving Dream the benefit of the doubt statistically, the odds are incredible in their opinion. They are so lucky that even compared to other lucky runs – which are somehow all top runs – Dream’s odds are well above those of his contemporaries.
“If nothing else, Dreams streams’ drop rates are so exceptional that they should be analyzed for the sake of analysis whether or not anyone believes they happened legitimately,” the paper read.
And what exactly are the odds? For the trades, there is only a 1 in 177 billion chance of getting as many successful trades as Dream. By giving him some leeway and trying to account for some bias, the team still ultimately decided that the odds are 1 in 82 billion for the barter shown during the run. The mafia failure rates Dream had on his flight, meanwhile, are only 1 in 113 billion chances of occurring. Basically, the moderation team claims that while it’s entirely possible to experience these opportunities, having two extremely happy results like this question the record setting. While they can’t prove it, the moderation team believes it’s possible Dream is running some custom game.
Dream, for its part, has tried to fight the allegations. Ten days after he completed the live stream, the moderation team asked for the files that could show what was active in his folders when the run was complete. Dream provided the files as requested. Still, the moderation team claims that the files could have been changed during that 10-day time difference, which Dream himself says is likely to be the case if he changes his game depending on what he’s streaming. The moderation team also claims that Dream deleted the original settings files for the run, but Polygon cannot verify what was given at the time. Dream has has made a file available for download for anyone who is curious. But critics argue there are other ways to change Minecraft drop rates that don’t involve mods.
I was asked if I had modified it as they wanted to check the modification dates. I clearly said I did because it was 10 days ago, and I change which mods I’m running depending on the version I’m running. (dream SMP is 1.16.3, speedrunning is 1.16.1, servers 1.8, etc.)
– dream (@ dreamwastaken2) December 14, 2020
While the video that caused all this uproar has only been live for a few days at the time of writing, the battle over the run’s legitimacy has been going on for weeks. During that time, Dream posted a variety of comments, with the research being nothing more than clickbait intended to gather opinions, especially given Dream’s visibility and popularity. Dream goes on to state that the investigation was apparently so flawed that some of the moderation team threatened to quit, but Geosquared tells Polygon this is not true.
“All moderators have voted unanimously in our decision and no one is in danger of leaving in protest,” he wrote in a Twitter post. “Everything we know is baseless or complete exaggeration.”
Thanks for the completely unbiased 2-month, 29-page “investigation” into whether a 16th place run was “too lucky,” which was then turned into a clickbait Youtube video by a lead moderator (what a shocker)
– dream (@ dreamwastaken2) December 11, 2020
While it’s hard to say without talking to every person on the team, there must have been some consensus among the moderators – after all, the run is no longer on the world record page. Other runs that Dream has submitted that can be fully verified are still in progress. When asked why the team would put so much time and effort into contesting something that was never announced as number one, Geosquared told Polygon that the placement didn’t matter to the team.
“Every run can of course be scrutinized, in this case after members of our community brought out the exceptional numbers it would have been disingenuous not to look at it just because it wasn’t the world record,” he wrote. .
The veracity of the speedrun calls into question the engine that made Dream great in the first place. As viewers – many of them love children Minecraft and may not be particularly critical or distinctive about who is providing the entertainment – tuning in because they are blinded by Dream’s prowess, what does it mean if some of it was possibly faked?
Dream, meanwhile, claims this is all some kind of personal grudge – especially since he does indeed have legit runs that the team has verified. Then why falsify a video of all things fifth? Spectators, meanwhile, are trying to understand what’s out there, although consensus also seems to be skeptical – one viewer tried to simulate, for example billions of runs without encountering the same chances Dream apparently did.
but on top of that, the speedrun verifiers and mods have talked to me in public in the most unprofessional way, and had server members circulate the BS numbers as they responded to new people saying “Dream is under investigation.” This applies to multiple mods and verifiers
– dream (@ dreamwastaken2) November 28, 2020
There have also been consequences on social media with one of the mods tell viewers to stop sending Dream Negativity about the research paper. “Dream doesn’t deserve hate,” he wrote. ‘Criticism certainly, but not hate. Negativity is not justice, and being revengeful does not get you anywhere. ”
Dream has also apologized for the way he has responded to the allegations, to write“While I have reason to be upset, I have no reason to act like a baby. I tend to act before thinking when I receive intense criticism. “
While there seem to be attempts to smooth things out between both sides, the moderation team is steadfast in its findings.
“The events observed in Dream’s flow cannot be modeled by any reasonable conventional probability distribution,” the paper concludes at the end of its long investigation. “After taking into account potential contributors to bias, the likelihood of this happening is still inscrutable.”