Just over a decade ago, filmmaker Seth Gordon introduced us to two men in a quest to get the highest possible score in Donkey Kong, Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe, in the documentary The King Of Kong. Mitchell, in particular, with his mullet and his personal fortune racked up by selling hot sauce, stood out as the heel of the piece, while Wiebe was the scrappy underdog. But now the story has taken a strange twist, as Mitchell has been stripped of his records by video game world records authority Twin Galaxies and banned from competition.
Mitchell has gotten swept up in a wave of investigation of long-standing video game records, some of which have been suspected of being fake for years. In January, the longest-held world record, for the Atari game Dragster, was stripped from Todd Rogers after months of investigation. Rogers’ score, it turned out, was effectively impossible for a human to get. But what sunk Mitchell is slightly more complicated.
The official rules at Twin Galaxies is that any record it gives you has to be achieved on a vintage arcade machine. If you play an old game on a video game console or a modern PC, you’re playing what’s called an “emulator.”