'Video game player of the century' has his records removed after Donkey Kong scandal
He was once dubbed the "video game player of the century" and shot to international notoriety after being featured in a cult classic documentary, but Billy Mitchell's rein in the arcade is now in question.
The man who once held world records in classic arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man has been stripped of his high scores following a scandal that's upended the world of old-school video gaming.
Last week, Twin Galaxies, the organization that referees classic arcade scores, announced they had determined some of Mitchell's records were not attained on actual arcade machines but by using the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME), or software which replicates the games - a violation of Twin Galaxies's rules.
"The rules for submitting scores for the original arcade Donkey Kong competitive leader boards requires the use of original arcade hardware only," the organization said in a statement. "The use of MAME or any other emulation software for submission to these leader boards is strictly forbidden."
Mitchell has promised to prove his scores are valid.
But last Friday, Guinness World Records acted in accordance with Twin Galaxies's ruling by scrubbing Mitchell's records with the organization, according to the gaming site Kotaku.
"The Guinness World Records titles relating to Mr. Mitchell's highest scores on Donkey Kong have all been disqualified due to Twin Galaxies being our source of verification for these achievements," a Guinness representative told the web site.
"We also recognize records for First perfect score on Pac-Man and Highest score on Pac-Man. Twin Galaxies was the original source of verification for these record titles and in line with their decision to remove all of Mr. Mitchell's records from their system, we have disqualified Mr. Mitchell as the holder of these two records."
In February, Twin Galaxies fielded a complaint by another gamer challenging three of Mitchell's scores. The gamer questioned whether Mitchell actually earned the marks on an arcade machine. An investigation was launched into the video footage taken of each of the high scoring games. "We now believe that they are not from an original unmodified" Donkey Kong machine, Twin Galaxies said in their statement. "[O]ur investigation of the tape content ends with that conclusion and assertion."
Mitchell is one the highest-profile gamers in the world due to his list of records. In 1999, he was the first gamer to notch a perfect score on Pac-Man. He also was featured in the 2007 documentary "The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters." The filmed followed Kong player Steve Wiebe's attempt to beat Mitchell's record on "Donkey Kong."
Over the weekend, Mitchell addressed the ruling in a video posted to YouTube.
"The fact of the matter is, now there's a true professional due diligence being done to investigate things that happened as far as 35 years ago," he said. "In a professional manner, not in a shock-jock mentality designed to create hits, we will show that everything that has been done, everything was done professionally."
Story by Kyle Swenson. Swenson is a reporter with The Washington Post's Morning Mix team. He previously worked at the New Times Broward-Palm Beach and Cleveland Scene.