Cheater! Billy Mitchell stripped of scores, banned from premiere scoreboard

. Forum moderator Jeremy “Xelnia” Young cited frame-by-frame analysis of the board transitions in Mitchell’s tapes, which showed visual artifacts suggesting they were generated by early versions of the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) and not original arcade hardware.

After checking Mitchell’s original submitted score tapes and “meticulously test[ing] and investigat[ing] the dispute case assertions as well as a number of relevant contingent factors,” the Twin Galaxies administration unanimously determined that two of Mitchell’s disputed scores were created by an emulator: A 1.047 million point performance that was highlighted in and a 1.05 million point score achieved at a Mortgage Brokers convention in 2007.

Twin Galaxies wasn’t able to make a definitive determination on a third, 1.06 million point score Mitchell claimed to have at Florida’s Boomers arcade in 2010.

The ban has no effect on the current world record in , which currently sits at the 1.247 million points set by Robbie Lakeman in February.

The film doesn’t lie

While Twin Galaxies does accept scores created on MAME, they are tracked in a different category from those created on authentic arcade hardware due to timing and control differences. MAME recordings can also be stitched together from multiple plays and saved inputs, ensuring beneficial random luck and allowing mistakes to be erased through subsequent recordings. While it’s not certain that Mitchell did this kind of multi-recording splicing, the nature of his performancesprovides some circumstantial evidence that this is indeed what happened.

Spliced or not, though, the determination that Mitchell submitted MAME footage as “direct feed” video from original hardware—and lied about it consistently over the years—was central to Twin Galaxies’ decision. “From a Twin Galaxies viewpoint, the only important thing to know is whether or not the score performances are from an unmodified original arcade PCB [printed circuit board] as per the competitive rules,” the site administration writes. “We now believe that they are not from an original unmodified arcade PCB, and so our investigation of the tape content ends with that conclusion and assertion.”

Mitchell, who said in February that the “original tape” would vindicate his scores (and that he never used MAME), chose not to directly respond to Twin Galaxies questions about those performances, the administration said (he has also not responded to a request for comment from Ars Technica). Carlos Piniero, who Mitchell “engaged to help examine the dispute case claims on his behalf,” made a final finding that was “consistent with Twin Galaxies investigation and others,” the scoreboard administrators wrote.

Mitchell was a figure of outsized importance in the community of video game record seekers, widely hailed for playing the first perfect game of in 1999 (a record Twin Galaxies no longer recognizes). Since being featured as Wiebe’s antagonist in , Mitchell has been parodied in pop culture and even rode on a giant machine replica at December’s Citrus Bowl parade.

Mitchell’s downfall follows the similar fate of Todd Rogers, who was also banned from the scoreboard after being found to have lied about achieving an unachievable score on the Atari 2600 game . Rogers, it’s important to note, was the official witness and Twin Galaxies referee that previously confirmed many of Mitchell’s scores for the scoreboard.

Twin Galaxies was founded in 1981 by arcade owner Walter Day, but it came under new management in 2014 and is now led by “Head Custodian and Caretaker” (and Internet video personality) Jace Hall. The management says these moves to purge high-profile scores from its database highlight a new focus on “scoreboard integrity,” which it seeks to improve “no matter how painful or public it might occasionally be.”

“Anyone looking into their own past with honesty and a desire to improve will likely find things potentially messy and uncomfortable,” the management writes. “Twin Galaxies has experienced a nice big dose of that again with this dispute. However, Twin Galaxies understands that this is required for it to continue its commitment to accuracy. As we all have learned, this cannot occur overnight and must be a step-by-step process.

“We must repeat, the truth is the priority. That is the concern. Whatever it takes.”

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Kyle Orland Kyle is the Senior Gaming Editor at Ars Technica, specializing in video game hardware and software. He has journalism and computer science degrees from University of Maryland. He is based in the Washington, DC area.
Email[email protected]//Twitter@KyleOrl

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