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Twin Galaxies Disqualifies Billy Mitchell

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Twin Galaxies Disqualifies Billy Mitchell
Photo by Datagod. Used under CC BY-SA 4.0 licence.

Twin Galaxies has today removed Billy Mitchell’s scores from its database and banned him from entering new competitive scores, based on disputed Donkey Kong scores from 2010. The organisation opened with the following statement:

“Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell’s scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards. We have notified Guinness World Records of our decision.”

The 52 year old has been a famed competitive gamer for over 35 years, first achieving fame as part of the US National Videogame Team – a project put together by Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day. Later, he would gain acclaim as the first player to ever achieve a perfect game of Pac-Man, and first player to break one million points on Donkey Kong. However, it’s that last achievement which has been disputed, and ultimately caused Mitchell’s disqualification from Twin Galaxies.

In February this year, Jeremy Young opened a dispute on Twin Galaxies regarding Billy Mitchell’s score of 1,047,200, submitted via video tape in 2010. This was one of the most famous high scores in competitive gaming – as well as being the first million point score on Donkey Kong, it was a score which regained Billy Mitchell the Donkey Kong world record. Famously, the submission of this tape was documented in The King Of Kong, a documentary film about the world record rivalry between Mitchell and Steve Wiebe. However, the taped footage for this score and two later scores allegedly contained graphical rendering quirks that were found in contemporary versions of MAME.

The high score track Billy Mitchell was on specifically required players to submit scores obtained on real, unmodified arcade hardware. Following an investigation, Twin Galaxies concluded that although it could not prove that Mitchell had used MAME, it had gathered enough evidence (with the help of independent outside assessors) to believe that the footage cannot have come from real, unmodified Donkey Kong hardware. Accordingly, Mitchell’s scores across all games were struck from the record books, Mitchell was banned from further competition and Steve Wiebe is now recognised by Twin Galaxies as the first player to achieve one million points on Donkey Kong.

During the course of this controversy, we have made attempts to reach out to Billy Mitchell for comment but received no response. In its own statement (click here for the full version), Twin Galaxies stated:

“Twin Galaxies has endeavored to provide a fair opportunity and reasonable amount of time for all sides and interests to present their thoughts and evidence as it has evaluated this dispute claim.

Twin Galaxies has also investigated this matter as comprehensively as reasonably possible to make sure that its findings are as informed as possible.

Throughout every step of this investigation, Billy Mitchell had the opportunity to answer questions and contribute to the public dispute thread. However, he was under no obligation to participate in this dispute thread and as such he chose not to do so.”

Rest assured, we will be examining this controversy and its fallout in greater depth in a future issue of the magazine.

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