Video game record-setter accused of cheating

Todd Rogers is one of the few people genuinely famous for their mastery of video games, holding numerous high-score records and scoring merchandising deals. But it turns out that at least some of his achievements are technically impossible, now that it's easy to decompile old games and look at the code. So how did he do it? [via]

The video above breaks down the case against him; cited is this thread at the Atari Age forums.

[Regarding the Atari game] Barnstorming (2600): Todd's record, which stood for many years, was proven to be impossible once we broke down the game code and stripped the stage of any obstacles. With the stage completely blank, flying a straight line to the finish was slower than Todd's record. When we presented this evidence, we were attacked by fans and supporters of Todd, and eventually an excuse was cooked up that I lovingly refer to as "the coffee stain excuse". Yes, after being attacked and told we were clueless about how good Todd was, one of the referees covered for him and claimed the 'document' detailing his record had a coffee stain on the part where the record time was listed. Instead of throwing the record out and forcing Todd to do a legit one on video tape, they just simply adjusted the record to be MAYBE possible by adding a half-second to the time.

More from Heather Alexandra, writing last year, when Rogers' Dragster time was first publicly challenged in a major outlet.

Rogers says that he replicated the 5.51 score multiple times in 1982: once at the Chicago Consumer Electronics Show and another time at The Electronic Thing show in Detroit. “That was more than enough for the developers,” Rogers told Kotaku. “You can’t alter history, no matter who speculates what is possible and what is not.”

“Activision validated Todd’s Dragster score using the accepted methods of the day,” Crane said. “The time to question any of those records has passed.”

Alas, that's not how it works, and Rogers' times have since gotten a more thorough dismantling: Ben Heck even dismantled a real Atari machine to demonstrate their impossibility. We're at the point where the virtual referees (people at the Twin Galaxies record-keeping website and Activision itself) seem either negligent or in on it. Animating the imbroglio is a culture war, between old-timer 1980s video game records-setters and kids of the machine-assisted speedrun era.