Dubbed a ‘Donkey Kong’ cheat, Billy Mitchell takes to the courts to defend his reputation

Dubbed a ‘Donkey Kong’ cheat, Billy Mitchell takes to the courts to defend his reputation


It’s taken two years, but Billy Mitchell will finally defend his ‘Donkey Kong’ high score in court. Having been dubbed a ‘cheat’, the former world record holder is fighting back.

In April 2018 Billy Mitchell vowed to vindicate his world record ‘Donkey Kong’ high score. Having been dubbed a ‘cheat’ by  Twin Galaxies, the recognised governing body of video game high scores, Mitchell was also subsequently stripped of his Guinness world records.

Following what was described as a thorough investigation, Twin Galaxies determined that Mitchell’s ‘Donkey Kong’ high score could not be considered legitimate.

Scrutiny began when a Twin Galaxies member, Jeremy Young, noticed that screen transitions in Mitchell’s supporting video evidence were not consistent with those of original ‘Donkey Kong’ arcade hardware. The rules state that only arcade hardware can be used for competitive purposes.

Young filed an official dispute which initiated the investigation. Evidence suggests that Mitchell could have used MAME emulation software, which can be manipulated to benefit the player.

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Whilst Twin Galaxies didn’t directly label Mitchell a ‘cheat’, that’s how many, understandably, interpreted their conclusions.


Billy Mitchell


Mitchell, who featured in the 2007 documentary ‘King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters’, was defiant. He vowed to clear his name and prove that his high scores are legitimate and should be re-instated.

In May Ars Technica report that Mitchell had begun legal proceedings as early as April 2019, with a defamation suit which has been building and should be heard this July. Mitchell’s case maintains that Twin Galaxie’s investigations took place with a pre-ordained bias – where they sought to make the evidence fit the conclusion. This refers to Twin Galaxie’s attempts to replicate the screen transitions in Mitchell’s video evidence with arcade hardware. Something they were unable to achieve.

Mitchell’s claim also focuses on the way the investigation was conducted in the public forum, suggesting that the spectacle was utilised to gain website hits.

Pertinently, Mitchell addresses how he was labelled a ‘cheat’ through Twin Galaxies’ actions. Whilst the high score body didn’t ever explicitly use the word, Mitchell maintains that the publication of their conclusions is worded in such a way as to inescapably imply the term.

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Mitchell has also threatened to sue Guinness over world records that were rescinded in light of Twin Galaxies’ actions.



Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd