One of my favorite film genres is the documentary about people who care an awful lot about something that you don’t care about. I find the passion and enthusiasm that people bring to… whatever… to be entertaining and inspiring. Watch “The King of Kong” sometime—it’s a documentary about people who are obsessed with setting speed or score records for classic video games. It features one of my favorite moments in film history, when a guy going for a high score at Donkey Kong is being yelled at by his small child who really, really, really needs to go to the potty.
Anyway, video game records are a thing, which leads to this absolutely amazing story from Heather Alexandra at Kotaku about how the records of Todd “Mr. Activision” Rogers have been stripped by Twin Galaxies, the organization that is generally recognized as the arbiter of classic video game accomplishments:
Last year, speedrunner Eric “Omnigamer” Koziel called Rogers’ Dragster record into question. By Koziel’s account, the fastest achievable time should be 5.57 seconds. Using editing tools to allow optimal performance, he created a tool-assisted speedrun and was only able to hit that mark, rather than the 5.51 that Rogers claims.
The Kotaku story led me to this post on Twin Galaxies, in which the creator of the disputed game essentially shrugs. But that article includes this amazing embedded video by Apollo Legend that details the level of deceit that Rogers and an accomplice (who was acting as an official referee and has since gone on to be convicted of horrible crimes) went to in claiming all of these records.
More impressively, the video chronicles the work done by other people to analyze the details of the game and discover what the true “perfect scores” would be, right down to in some cases modifying the game code itself to create an impossibly easy run.