One of the arcade world's top-ranked players is in hot water this week, after Twin Galaxies, an organization that "tracks video game world records," stripped him of several of his titles in a scandal that has rocked the gaming world, NPR reports.
Billy Mitchell, the "Video Game Player of the Century," is no longer considered history's best Donkey Kong player, after consultants with Twin Galaxies say he got his high scores while playing on "inappropriate hardware" — an allegation that, in arcade gaming, is akin to a doping scandal.
Mitchell posted a score of 1,047,200 on the Donkey Kong arcade machine and was the first person to crack the 1 million-point mark on the game. There's even a documentary about him called, "The King of Kong."
But now officials are saying that Mitchell got his score on a Donkey Kong emulator, like the ones commonly available on video game streaming services like Steam. The emulator isn't the same as a traditional arcade cabinet, and Twin Galaxies is worried Mitchell — or someone — programed the game to give him an advantage. And that's exactly what one researcher, Jeremy Young, says happened when Mitchell got his world record score.
"Emulation can allow for cheating. Emulation is rarely 100 percent perfect. Emulation can allow for entirely different control schemes, display setups, and other environmental considerations," Young told media in February. "These considerations are different for every emulated game."
"The potential advantages given by emulation (in the form of cheating) make it absolutely necessary to have clear requirements to determine the authenticity of any performance," he continued.
Billy Mitchell has a lot to say about the decision, most notably that since his record was set, it's been beaten more than ten times. He's no longer even one of the top ten Donkey Kong players in the arcade world. He was simply the first person to break the 1 million mark (though, since then, he's gone on to set other records, including a top score in the original Pac-Man).
Mitchell released a statement Monday, where he vowed to show that his score was achieved fairly.
"The fact of the matter is, now there is 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 — according to the rules, according to the scoreboard, the integrity that was set up."
As of last weekend, the 1 million point achievement was re-awarded to arcade legend Steve Wiebe. The current world record for Donkey Kong is 1,247,700 points, held by a man named Robbie Lakeman, who also holds the title for Super Pac-Man, according to Wikipedia.