Billy Mitchell, the onetime Donkey Kong champion removed from the record book after evidence emerged that he used emulators to rack up his scores, is suing the website that bounced his name from its charts. He threatened to do so in September last year, but it turns out he had already filed without publicity. The lawsuit was filed under Williams' full name and with a spelling error that made it unlikely to turn up in searches.
Mitchell and his lawyers said in a statement they would be forced to "resort to legal recourse" if Twin Galaxies didn't rescind its decision and reinstate Mitchell's scores. But court filings obtained by Ars Technica show that Mitchell had already filed suit against Twin Galaxies in a Los Angeles County court as early as April 2019.
Mitchell's defamation lawsuit—misfiled as "William James Mitchell vs. Twin Galexies, LLC [sic]" and not reported in previous press accounts—has been slowly building to a planned July anti-SLAPP hearing, where Twin Galaxies will make use of a statute that lets defendants quickly strike down lawsuits that threaten "public participation." Twin Galaxies says in court filings that its statements regarding Mitchell's scores were not defamatory and that finding in Mitchell's favor "would have chilling effects on the freedom of speech."
There are subtle discrepancies between how emulators and original hardware refresh Donkey Kong screens. Mitchell was denounced after they were observed in a high-scoring video he posted. Read the rest
Billy Mitchell long held the high-score record for the arcade classic Donkey Kong, but his reputation suffered after his best times were shown to have been made using emulators rather than arcade hardware. Now he's threatening to sue one of the top scorekeeping websites, which struck his scores from the record, and the publishers of The Guinness Book of Records, which cites it as a source.
Owen S. Good:
This week, lawyers for Mitchell sent a letter to Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records demanding that both “retract their claims against Billy Mitchell” and restore the scores to their world record leaderboards, where Mitchell had been a fixture since the early 1980s. Attorneys made the same demand of Guinness World Records, which uses Twin Galaxies as its source for the video game high score records it recognizes.
At issue is the April 12, 2018 finding by Twin Galaxies, after a three-month investigation and deliberative process, that the gameplay in two million-point scores Mitchell claimed for Donkey Kong were not produced by original, unmodified arcade hardware. The implication in that finding is that Mitchell used an emulator running the game to produce the scores, and emulators allow different control schemes, display setups, and even the means to cheat or manipulate a score or performance.
Here's the letter. An excerpt:
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its investigation did not provide Billy Mitchell fair opportunity to
provide evidence to prove his innocence. Throughout the investigation, Twin Galaxies had a
double standard. Specific evidence against Mitchell was accepted, while evidence of equal
stature was rejected.