Billy Mitchell & Twin Galaxies Are Going to Trial!

If you don’t know who Billy Mitchell or Twin Galaxies are, then to be honest the history between them at this point is a little too long and convoluted for the casual observer. I’d probably need a few thousand words to give you the full history and, even then, I still probably wouldn’t be covering everything in as much depth or accuracy as it really deserved. In a nutshell, however, Twin Galaxies (following the acquisition by new owners) decided to remove all of Billy Mitchell’s high scores back in early 2018 after a number of his ‘world record’ Donkey Kong runs were brought into dispute. Specifically over whether he used legitimate arcade hardware or emulation.

Billy Mitchell, however, is no stranger to the legal system and following an announcement back in May this year, he confirmed that he was officially suing Twin Galaxies over ‘defamation’ for a figure in the region of $10m.

Sufficiently caught up? Good, because following the latest court ruling (coming in a report via ARStechnica) it seems that the case is now officially heading to trial. As you might expect though, the reasons for it are more than a little weird.

Billy Mitchell VS Twin Galaxies

The details surrounding this latest ruling are, again, more than a little complicated. If you’re not aware, however, pursuing a slander claim in America is more than a little difficult. Particularly in states which utilize ‘anti-slapp’ laws that are specifically designed to (at least in principle) quickly squash frivolous lawsuits.

Taking the resulting findings as a whole, however, the matter is now officially heading to trial and it largely boils down to the fact that Twin Galaxies did not (apparently) consult the ‘expert witness testimony’ offered by Billy Mitchell in regards to the authenticity of his records. – Even in that regard, however, there is one particular aspect that, if you’re aware of the full history here, will more than likely make you raise an eyebrow.

The Plot Thickens

Citing numerous witnesses to his records being legitimately recorded on an arcade cabinet (rather than MAME or some other form of emulation), Billy Mitchell has directly cited reports from Walter Day (the former owner of Twin Galaxies) and Todd Rogers accounting for the accuracy of the high scores. Of these two, Todd Rogers has already been banned from Twin Galaxies after his ‘Dragster’ records were proven, at least to a reasonable extent in Twin Galaxies’ view, to have been faked. More so, however, Walter Day did effectively implement a system at Twin Galaxies that allowed for very little independent moderation of high scores. – In other words, you can appreciate why Twin Galaxies would not have viewed these as ‘reliable’ sources of information or validation. It is exactly for this reason, however, that the matter has now proceeded to court.

On something of a side note, it makes me wonder if the reason Guinness World Records recently reinstated Billy Mitchell’s scores was based on this somewhat tenuous ‘evidence‘. I have, incidentally, asked GWR, on numerous occasions, for more elaboration on their still yet undisclosed ‘compelling new evidence’ that led to this decision and since June I have not received any fresh single responses. Put simply, they seem to be ignoring me following some initial communication. At this point, I’m simply assuming that the organization buckled under the threat of legal action. And yes, Billy Mitchell did threaten to sue them. – And if you’re reading this GWR, you have my email address!

Anyway, getting back on track, while Billy Mitchell taking this officially to trial is being touted as a victory (largely by himself), it does get a lot more difficult for him from this point on. Why? Well, he now has to prove two points that have, so far, proven more than a little difficult. Namely:

  • That the high scores were legitimately recorded on an arcade/PCB rather than emulation (and the evidence towards the latter is, at least in my view, far more substantial)
  • That Twin Galaxies acted maliciously in their announcement/decision to ban him (and his scores) from their website (again, difficult to prove)

Given that this is a matter that is largely being ignored by the mainstream gaming media (generally, I suspect, because they don’t want to risk being sued by Billy Mitchell), the bottom line is that this is looking set to continue to drag on for more than a little while and, while I doubt Billy Mitchell will be successful if this does see a legal conclusion prior to a potential agreement/settlement, it’s still more than enough of an excuse to grab the popcorn and enjoy the show!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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