Billy Mitchell takes his Donkey Kong high-score cheating case to court


Well-known member
Dec 11, 2018
In April of 2018, the Twin Galaxies video game scoreboard announced its finding that well-known classic game score-chaser Billy Mitchell did not achieve his Donkey Kong high scores on unmodified arcade hardware, stripping him of all his accumulated records in the process. Since then, Mitchell has oft claimed that he would fight the decision every way he could. And in September 2019, 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."

Speaking to Ars Technica, Mitchell said his lawsuit was officially filed last April to fit inside California's statute of limitations for defamation cases, which ran out a year after Twin Galaxies' April 2018 decision to strip Mitchell of all his records. That case was then officially served to Twin Galaxies in February and updated with a more detailed complaint in March, according to court records.

"My law firm and I are fully confident that we will establish a prima face [sic] case for all parts of the lawsuit," Mitchell told Ars Technica in a Twitter Direct Message.

An implicit "cheater" label
In his amended legal complaint, Mitchell argues that Twin Galaxies' published statement regarding his scores was "libelous on its face" because of the implication that "Mitchell did not achieve his record score legitimately." By accusing Mitchell of "impermissibly and secretly shortcutting [the site's] rules," Mitchell argues that Twin Galaxies "at least implied [that he was a cheater], so that any reasonable reader would understand Twin Galaxies has called Mitchell a cheater who deserved punishment by stripping him of all his Twin Galaxies records and banning him for life from submitting further records."

Twin Galaxies' April 2018 decision on Mitchell's Donkey Kong scores was careful not to explicitly call Mitchell a cheater or make any direct statements about his conduct or character. Instead, it focused more narrowly on the "demonstrated impossibility of original unmodified Donkey Kong arcade hardware to produce specific board transition images shown in the videotaped recordings of those adjudicated performances."

Mitchell stands behind footage of his claimed 1.06 million point <em>Donkey Kong</em> game at a 2010 press conference (click for slow motion replay that seems to show a MAME screen transition).
/ Mitchell stands behind footage of his claimed 1.06 million point Donkey Kong game at a 2010 press conference (click for slow motion replay that seems to show a MAME screen transition).
Donkey Kong Forum
In his complaint, Mitchell repeats his previous claims that the result of Twin Galaxies' investigation was "pre-ordained," and that it was undertaken with a "biased observed intent on generating publicity and internet 'clicks' by accusing Mitchell, the most visible of all video gamers, of cheating."

Mitchell takes particular issue with Twin Galaxies' alleged refusal to consider "25 sworn affidavits" from eyewitnesses supporting his claims, in favor of an exclusive focus on "scientific" evidence. Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day is quoted saying that he "find it unexplainable that my testimony as the founder and former owner is disregarded, while others, specifically the ones against Billy, are embraced."

Twin Galaxies' decision was made "with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for its truth," Mitchell alleges. "The most cursory unbiased investigation would have revealed beyond doubt that the record-breaking Donkey Kong scores were not played on emulation software in private places but were actually played on certified arcade boards in front of hundreds of people."



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