Billy Mitchell is maybe best known for his part in the King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters documentary. He has been a polarizing figure since he started attempting gaming records in the 1980s. Billy is now once again attempting to reclaim something that he feels has been unfairly taken from him. It started when a second look at Billy’s reported high scores on the arcade classic Donkey Kong seemed fabricated, likely using an emulator.
Between the two videos he submitted for his world record score (over 1 million points), there are a few hiccups. There were aspects of each session that many gamers criticized and said were indications of emulator use. The details are complicated, but basically he was playing an EXTREMELY risky game. Taking more risks than necessary, which would only make sense if he was using an emulator.
Emulators have abilities like save states that differentiate them from an actual arcade game. All of these things line up to make Billy Mitchell one of the most controversial people in gaming. Though his general attitude towards gaming and competition is definitely a part of his pariah status.
But where is the proof?
Then, in February of last year, an investigation of the tapes showed that there was no way Billy played legally. He couldn’t have been using an arcade cabinet due to how the new level screens were refreshed. Now, this may seem like it was no big deal, what with Billy enjoying multiple decades of bragging rights. But Mr. Mitchell is a man who doesn’t like to lose.
From his responses on Twitter to his vehement defense for years of his false records, he is always defending himself. He’s also been defending his reputation with extreme prejudice for many years. It may not seem like a lot to have his ‘false claims’ aired out in front of everyone. But Billy has been defending his claims from similar protests for years so he’s got a lot of practice.
But because of this most recent finding, he has been banned from Twin Galaxies, the official gaming world record keepers. That means that he basically has no shot at winning another gaming record again. That alone would have been devastating for him, but unfortunately, he was also stripped of all of his other records. This even includes the first perfect Pac-Man game in recorded history.
This doesn’t mean that Billy has ever disliked being vilified. As a matter of fact, he seems to thrive on it. Looking back at his cocky grin, eccentric ties, and attitude towards competition, he seems to enjoy being the bad guy. That is definitely evident in his part of the King of Kong documentary. As well as the way he talks about gaming to others and on social media.
Billy Mitchell saw how good it could be to be a bad guy. And he has spent the better part of three decades defending his title. Now that doesn’t mean that there aren’t those out there who think of him as someone to be taken less than seriously, but Billy takes himself seriously enough for all of us.