UPDATED (April 13): The Guinness World Records has disqualified Billy Mitchell’s high-score records for “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man,” as well as his record for obtaining the first perfect score in the latter game. “Guinness World Records will look to update and find the appropriate holder of these records in the next few days,” wrote a rep from the organization in a statement shared with IndieWire.
Recurring documentary subject and video-game legend Billy Mitchell was unanimously stripped of his record-breaking scores Thursday following allegations of cheating. Twin Galaxies, the premiere tracker of global gamers’ success, will also not recognize any of Mitchell’s future scores.
In 2010, Mitchell became the first “Donkey Kong” player to earn one million points; he started setting records in that game 28 years prior. Now 52, Mitchell also attained the first “Pac-Man” perfect score (3,333,360) in 1999. His gaming prowess led to roles in “Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade” (2007), “The King of Arcades” (2014), and “Man Vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler” (2016).
But his most notable onscreen appearance came in future “Horrible Bosses” and “Baywatch” (2017) director Seth Gordon’s 2007 film, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” A SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival selection, “The King of Kong” was about an upstart named Steve Wiebe who scheduled multiple public challenges against no-show Mitchell. They trade “Donkey Kong” records throughout the film, and even then, Mitchell was accused of submitting sham tapes of his wins. Twin Galaxies’ decision replaces Mitchell with Weibe as the first player to reach one million points.
Twin Galaxies Donkey Kong Forum moderator Jeremy Young claimed this February that Mitchell had used an emulator (hardware or software that mimics another computer’s behavior) called MAME to get his historic score. “The rules for submitting scores for the original arcade ‘Donkey Kong’ competitive leaderboards requires the use of original arcade hardware only,” reads the Twin Galaxies verdict.
The platform “meticulously” carried out an internal investigation, and also consulted third parties. Twin Galaxies’ stats inform Guinness World Records superlatives, and Twin Galaxies has made Guinness World Records aware of its findings. Mitchell holds a total of three Guinness World Records for his “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man” achievements.
Five days after Young’s made his objections known, Mitchell responded during an interview on an online talkshow called “East Side Dave.” “I’ve never even played MAME,” said Mitchell, according to the video-game website Kotaku. “I don’t have MAME loaded in my home. The film footage that he has, that Jeremy has, shows MAME play. Now, I contend that if he gets the original tape, or he gets the original room shot, he will see that what I say is true. I’m not disputing what he says. What I’m disputing is the fact that I want him to have the original tape. And the fact of the matter is that that original footage was given to Twin Galaxies, Twin Galaxies has it or should have it, and if it’s anywhere other than Twin Galaxies, that’s a real problem.”
IndieWire has reached out to \Gordon for comment.