I think we can all agree that whether or not Billy Mitchell cheated at Donkey Kong that one time is basically the most important event in all of human history, and must be forensically dissected until the heat death of the universe. But in the latest round of the ongoing battle between this famed video game player and a website that monitors world records, Mitchell is now claiming his doctor won’t see him any more.
Mitchell, famous for his supposedly world-record-breaking scores on arcade cabinet games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, has been engaged in a legal battle with video game social media platform / score-keeping authority Twin Galaxies. In 2018, members of the Twin Galaxies community claimed to have proof that his Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. records—achieved in 2010—had involved cheating. They removed his scores from their site, accusing him of using the popular arcade game emulator MAME to achieve his records, rather than the original arcade hardware.
It was all to do with the transition screens between levels, which tend to be rendered slightly differently by emulators. The contention against Mitchell’s claim to the throne also had to do with how there’s no apparently video proof that he performed his record-breaking runs stood at a real cabinet, and his claimed footage of the feats has allegedly never appeared. This controversy got worse for Mitchell, when Guinness World Records removed all his scores from the record books.
But wait! Two years later Guinness changed its mind, and based on “key eyewitnesses and expert testimonials,” reinstated his scores back into the official record. So everything was fine, and everyone went home and had a lovely dinner. Wait, no, sorry, the controversies continued to pile up. Twin Galaxies still refused to recognize his records, and last year, a site Mitchell had let lapse got taken over by another group questioning his authenticity.
This then reached a hysterical peak when Mitchell won the right to sue Twin Galaxies in October last year. He’d filed to sue in 2019, but Twin Galaxies responded with an anti-SLAPP motion, hoping to get the whole thing thrown out of court. That didn’t work, and it got the go-ahead from the State of California’s Second Appellate.
In the latest edition of Mitchell And The (Arcade) Machines, Dollar store Nick Cave has submitted testimony for the case, as reported by what was once his own website. The most peculiar inclusion is Mitchell’s claim that his own doctor of 30 years now refuses to see him because he believes him a cheat.
“After Twin Galaxies’ defamatory statements of April 12, 2018,” says the submitted document, “one of Responding Party’s doctors, Dr. Stanley Skopit, refused to see Responding Party after Responding Party appeared for an annual examination.” And why? “After Responding Party questioned the assistant as to why Dr. Skopit, who Responding Party had been seeing for over 30 years, refused to see him, the assistant informed Responding Party that Dr. Skopit read the allegations from Twin Galaxies.”
The document goes on to claim that Mitchell also suffered emotional distress as a result of social media and traditional media coverage of the accusations, causing a hernia, and an atrial fibrillation, “due to Twin Galaxies’ defamatory statements.” We have reached out to the doctor.
I’d love to embed some of Perfect Pac-Man’s tweets about all this, but they’re so astonishingly defamatory that we’d find ourselves dragged into the court case. But this thread is most entertaining, if tiresomely involved. However, a highlight is where they draw attention to Mitchell’s justification for not submitting documents to prove his claim that he lost money due to video game festivals no longer inviting him to events. Launching a spectacular scattergun approach, Lionel Hutz (I’m assuming) begins:
Responding Party objects to this Request on the grounds that it fails to identify the requested documents with sufficient particularity. Responding Party further objects to this Request to the extent that it seeks documents already in the possession of Responding Party and/or equally, if not more available to them. The Request improperly seeks information protected by Responding Party’s constitutional right of privacy.
Then, having declared the documents Twin Galaxies already have (his lawyer clearly meant “Propounding Party” at one point) haven’t been sufficiently identified and also he doesn’t have to give them over anyway, it somehow leaps into:
Subject to and without waiving the forgoing objections, Responding Party responds: Upon a diligent search and reasonable inquiry. [sic] Responding Party is unable to comply because the requested items never existed, or are no longer in his possession because Responding Party lost his relationship with these videogame festivals as a result of Propounding Party’s defamatory statements.
So, I shall try to summarize. The documents Twin Galaxies shouldn’t be asking for because they already have them don’t exist, and he doesn’t have the documents proving he wasn’t invited to video game festivals because he wasn’t invited to the video game festivals to get them.
Oh my goodness, there’s so much more in this, but you can grep it for yourself. We’ve contacted Mitchell’s lawyers to see if he wants to respond, and see if they want to clarify anything that’s confused my poor, tired brain here.
Meanwhile, the case continues, to which we must all be utterly transfixed, because nothing else comes close to mattering as much as whether one guy did quite well at an arcade game. Nothing.