Guinness Reinstates Billy Mitchell’s “Donkey Kong” and “Pac-Man” Records

Controversies surrounding video games are just as exciting as video games themselves

Billy Mitchell
Billy Mitchell is once again a Guinness record holder.
Guinness World Records

What exactly constitutes a world record? And what does it mean to achieve a world record in something like, say, a video game? You might not expect Pac-Man to prompt heady epistemological questions, but stranger things have happened. And now, a set of contentious video game rulings has opened a rift within the gaming record community, potentially affecting the way those records are measured going forward.

At the center of this rift is gamer Billy Mitchell, best-known via his appearance in the documentary The King of Kong and a mainstay in the video game world for decades. Last month, Mitchell filed a lawsuit against Twin Galaxies, a Guinness World Records partner which documents world records in a host of video games. In 2018, Twin Galaxies removed Mitchell’s records from the site.

Sean O’Kane at The Verge has the details on the latest permutation of this conflict, and it’s a big one. Guinness reversed its earlier decision regarding Mitchell’s records, reinstating his achievements in both Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. Twin Galaxies, however, has not done so — meaning that the two record-keeping organizations are at odds in this matter.

In a video posted by Guinness World Records, Editor-in-Chief Craig Glenday explains the organization’s process for reopening Mitchell’s case and conducting their own investigation.

“In the end, we found that there just wasn’t sufficient evidence to support the disqualification across the board,” Glenday says. The video also includes comments from Mitchell and Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day providing more details on the record and the methods used to verify them.

Can video gaming prompt high drama? If this is any indication, it certainly can.

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