Last year, Billy Mitchell — arcade game whiz and proprietor of hot sauce — vowed to sue record-keeping agency Twin Galaxies over a controversy that resulted in the site reviewing his previous Donkey Kong scores and ultimately purging his previously held records, including those for unrelated games like Pac-Man. It turns out that Mitchell’s made good on his threat, as the lawsuit has been in the works since possibly as early as last year.
According to Ars Technica who obtained the court filings, the crux of the matter is the wording of Twin Galaxies’ decision announcement. Billy Mitchell argues that the ruling was written in a defamatory light, accusing him of cheating, albeit without specifically using that word. Twin Galaxies, on the other hand, was very careful in its wording on the post, focusing on the machines and their ability or inability to produce scanlines and video artifacts in a way consistent with the original Donkey Kong arcade board.
In an amendment to the original filing, Billy Mitchell claims that “the statement is libelous in its face” and that “it asserts that Mitchell achieved his record scores only by impermissibly and secretly shortcutting those rules.” Twin Galaxies hopes to use an anti-SLAPP statute at a hearing in July to have the case dismissed. In its own filings, TG claims that the suit “would have chilling effects on the freedom of speech.”
Twin Galaxies spent a good deal of time and resources verifying the claims of Mitchell cheating. They went over all the footage they had available, brought in different arcade machines, and put to work a number of staff members and site users (Twin Galaxies verifies most of its scores by crowdsourcing the work to volunteers.) to get to the bottom of this as fairly as possible. Although, people have been arguing about the legitimacy of the process for a while now.
Ultimately, this lawsuit may become a fight between Twin Galaxies’ ability to survive and the legitimacy of Mitchell’s life story.