Who is Billy Mitchell?
Billy Mitchell is an American video-game player, best known for his record scores in arcade games. He initially began working at his family-owned restaurant and had no interest in video games back then. Mitchell developed his interest in video games when games such as 'Donkey Kong' and 'Pac-Man' were released. He eventually became a regular at 'Twin Galaxies,' and thus began his journey as a video gamer. A photo shoot with established gamers earned him national prominence. Mitchell discovered and achieved the first 'Pac-Man' perfect score. He eventually recorded high scores for 'Donkey Kong' games, too. Mitchell held several records in classic games, but in 2018, 'Twin Galaxies' and 'Guinness World Records' canceled his previous 'Donkey Kong' scores and even barred him from submitting scores in future. Mitchell has been featured in many video-gaming documentaries, such as 'Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade' (2007), 'The King of Arcades' (2014), and 'Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler' (2015). He also owns the 'Rickey's World Famous Restaurant' chain and the brand 'Rickey's World Famous Sauces.'
Childhood & Early Life
Mitchell was born William James Mitchell Jr., on July 16, 1965, in Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1983, he was enrolled at the 'Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School' in Florida.
Mitchell simultaneously worked as a kitchen manager at his family-owned eatery, 'Rickey's Restaurant.'
Mitchell played pinball while he was in grade school. Back then, he had no interest in video games.
Things changed when Mitchell was amused by the craze for the video game 'Donkey Kong.' He would play 'Pac-Man' and 'Donkey Kong' with his classmate. This eventually developed his interest in arcade games.
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Mitchell visited 'Twin Galaxies,' an organization for video games and the official tracker of verified world records, for the first time when he wanted to know if there was a high score recorded for 'Donkey Kong.' He met the founder, Walter Day, who informed him that Steve Sanders held a record score of 1.4 million.
In November 1982, Mitchell, along with notable arcade players, did a photo shoot for 'Life' magazine in Ottumwa. There, the audience witnessed his successful pass to the impossible 22nd level of 'Donkey Kong.'
That year, Mitchell surpassed Sander's score, a record that remained unbroken for the next 18 years.
Mitchell befriended Robert Childs, a dealer of arcade cabinets. In 1983, Mitchell had an invitation to participate in the video-game tournament 'Electronic Circus.' The tournament got canceled. Thus, he spent time at 'Twin Galaxies,’ competing for more high-score records.
Mitchell continued to attend a lot of Day's tournaments to validate the high scores claimed by other players. However, he challenged the authenticity of most of them.
By 1984, Mitchell was titled the 'Twin Galaxies Player of the Year.' After registering a record score for 'BurgerTime' in 1985, he quit playing for the next 10 years and devoted time to his family's restaurant, which he eventually took over.
With the release of 'Pac-Man' in 1980, it was found that the 256th level had an impenetrable kill screen. In 1982, an 8-year-old claimed to record a high score of 5 million points. The following year, Mitchell worked along with his friend Chris Ayra to discover that 3,333,360 was the highest possible score, provided the player had a perfect no-death run and had collected all possible points on ‘Pac-Man's 256th level split-screen.
Mitchell recorded a 'BurgerTime' high score of 7,881,050 in 1984, which remained unbroken until 2005. On July 8, 1985, he became the fifth gamer to score more than 10 million points in a marathon play for 'Centipede.'
On July 3, 1999, Mitchell successfully recorded the highest possible 'Pac-Man' score in Laconia, New Hampshire, hence earning 'Twin Galaxies' a set of record scores.
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To reward Mitchell's achievement, 'Pac-Man' makers, 'Namco,' sponsored him for the 'Tokyo Game Show' and named him the "Video Game Player of the Century." In November 1999, Mitchell invited gamers to pass the split-screen and even offered a huge sum of money, but the record remained unbroken till its deadline of January 1, 2000.
In 2003, Mitchell was featured in an episode of the 'MTV' documentary 'True Life.'
In 2004, Mitchell recorded a high score of 933,900 in 'Donkey Kong' at the 'Midwest Gaming Classic.' An upcoming gamer named Steve Wiebe tried to surpass it the following year but was unsuccessful. The event was later featured in the 2007 film 'The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.'
Later, Wiebe invited Mitchell to events, especially at 'Funspot' arcades, to challenge him directly, but the latter never attended them, citing lack of practice.
Wiebe, however, managed to surpass Mitchell's score at a New Hampshire arcade, and 'Twin Galaxies' validated it. A few hours later, Mitchell recorded a new high score of 1,047,200, which 'Twin Galaxies' approved.
Unfortunately, 'Twin Galaxies' canceled Mitchell's new high score after Wiebe registered a complaint saying that the score was just recorded and not witnessed. The record once again went to Wiebe.
The episode impacted Mitchell's image in the gaming world heavily. 'King of Kong' considered him a villain. He even received hate mails and calls.
On June 21, 2006, 'MTV' named Mitchell one of "The 10 Most Influential Video Gamers of All Time.”
On June 4, 2007, Mitchell secured the eight position in the 'Microsoft Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championships.' On July 26, the silver-jubilee year of his first record-setting performance, he regained the 'Donkey Kong' record with a new high score of 1,050,200. Since he had scored the new record at the 'Florida Association of Mortgage Brokers' annual convention, the high score was titled the ‘Mortgage Brokers.’ It was broken on February 26, 2010.
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In 2008, Mitchell became the first gamer to secure a place on the trading card of chewing gum and collectibles manufacturing company 'Topps Allen & Ginter.'
Mitchell became a record holder of 'Donkey Kong' scores for the last time on July 24, 2010, at the 'Boomers' arcade in Dania, Florida.
In 2015, Mitchell sued the 'Regular Show' of 'Cartoon Network,' claiming one of the characters had copied his gaming style. The lawsuit was rejected, as the character had no physical resemblance to the gamer.
In August 2017, 'Twin Galaxies' moderator Jeremy Young reported that Mitchell had used the same cabinet for recording scores of both 'Donkey Kong' and 'Donkey Kong, Jr.' Mitchell partly denied the accusation.
Further investigations revealed that Mitchell's 'King of Kong,' 'Boomers,' and 'Mortgage Brokers' scores were created on the free open-source emulator ‘MAME’ and not on actual hardware. Moreover, 'Twin Galaxies' referee Todd Rogers, who witnessed the gameplays, had a history of submitting false scores. Thus, his judgment on Mitchell's scores could not be considered.
In his defense, Mitchell claimed that he had never played on ‘MAME’ and that Young’s evidence was fabricated. He also provided 'Twin Galaxies' recordings to support his claims.
In April 2018, 'Twin Galaxies' canceled Mitchell's scores after finding out that he had used a modified 'Donkey Kong' circuit board for two of his high scores. However, whether he had used the ‘MAME’ software was not confirmed.
'Twin Galaxies' banned Mitchell from submitting scores any further. Subsequently, 'Guinness World Records,' too, removed his 'Pac-Man' high score and his first-recorded perfect score.
Mitchell challenged this decision, and threatened to file a lawsuit against both 'Twin Galaxies' and 'Guinness' for removing his scores and defaming him. To prove his innocence, he recreated the 'Pac-Man' record at 'Funspot' in Laconia and secured the first place in a 'Donkey Kong' game in 2019.
Family & Personal Life
Mitchell is married and has three children. The family lives in Weston, Florida.
Mitchell displays American patriotism by wearing neckties with national-flag prints.
Mitchell's life-long rivalry with gamer Roy Shildt, ("Mr. Awesome") started after they questioned each other's credibility.