Infamous Atari Player Disqualified From World Record After 35 Years

Infamous Atari Player Disqualified From World Record After 35 Years

In 1982, video game score-chaser Todd Rogers supposedly set a world record time of 5.51 seconds in the Atari 2600 racing game Dragster. Last year, speedrunners called that score into question. After a lengthy arbitration process, Rogers’ score was removed from Twin Galaxies, an organisation that tracks video game records and high scores.

An image of a high score from Photographic evidence of Todd Rogers’ time can no longer be found.

“Based on the complete body of evidence presented in this official dispute thread, Twin Galaxies administrative staff has unanimously decided to remove all of Todd Rogers’ scores as well as ban him from participating in our competitive leaderboards,” Twin Galaxies’ staff said on their message boards. “The presented software analysis model concluded that achieving score times of less than 5.57 seconds is not possible under standard and normal play conditions.”

As of this morning, the Guinness Book of World Records officially recognises Todd Rogers’ Dragster record as the longest-held video game world record. His score has sat comfortably at the top of Twin Galaxies leaderboards for decades, although observers have long questioned whether it was really possible. Dragster, a game about racing a dragster car to a finish line as fast as possible, is completable in such a short amount of time because it simulates the speed of a road race. Completing a race takes anywhere from a few seconds to one minute.

When reached by Kotaku this morning, Rogers declined to comment.

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. Following that initial dispute, Koziel and other speedrunners began the process of trying to achieve 5.57 themselves, without tools. Koziel achieved the feat last September. As of today, 13 speedrunners have the 5.57 record, and nobody has hit 5.51, despite Rogers’ claim. Activision’s internal testing during the 1980s gave them a theoretical optimal time of 5.54 seconds, which makes 5.51 seem unlikely.

In addition to the Dragster record, Rogers held records in multiple games, many of which were thousands of points greater than anyone else on Twin Galaxies’ leaderboards. These included a 15 million-point score in Atari 2600’s Donkey Kong and a score of 65 million points on Centipede for Atari 5200. These scores drew criticism in the past, although Twin Galaxies had allowed them to stand until today’s decision.

Rogers was not the only one who said he’d logged a 5.51 in Dragster. The spring 1983 edition of Activision’s newsletter also listed two other individuals who said they achieved the time, although nobody has been able to find them. Dragster creator David Crane told Kotaku last July that he did not doubt that Rogers achieved the record using the validation methods at the time. He reiterated this position to Twin Galaxies last week.


  • Don’t games require video proof on Twin Galaxies, like any sane speedrun/record site?

    • 99% of this guy’s records are dodgy. All most all of them were listed as verified by referee. And wouldn’t you know the referee also happened to be a good friend of his. That referee is also currently in jail for child pornography related charges.

    • They do now. The 80s were not so sane.

      The Dragster score was originally listed in an Activision newsletter (alongside two other people with the same supposed time). Activision required photo proof of scores, typically a Polaroid. Somehow Rogers got his score from the newsletter accepted into the Twin Galaxies scoreboards.

      The whole ordeal is ridiculous. I’ve been watching it for 6+ months with face buried in palm.

      The best part is that this is not a big deal. There are very few people who care about these scores but the way Twin Galaxies dug their heels in and fought every step of the way drew a lot of attention.

      • The other people with the same time makes me think someone wrote .51 on the newsletter instead of .57. Given how much Rogers bends the truth he probably thought he said .51 needed to defend it.

    • Today, yes. 35 years ago, no. They just needed SOMETHING to support the claim, which could be as little as a hazy picture of the TV screen. There werent any video tools able to do that sort of capture, at least on a household scale.

      Todays tech makes it basic to provide a high level of evidence (video feeds, onscreen timers, etc) but replicating that back in the 80’s just wasnt happening, so direct evidence wasnt always possible.

      Which made it easy for someone to… embellish their effort. Then up to others to either prove they were bullshit, or match/beat it. With their own evidence of course.

  • The fact David Crane supports the original score says something though.
    That man has always known his own games innately (I’ve followed him since Pitfall because I am old) and he programmed the thing.
    I feel like people are missing something…
    Then again, that Donkey Kong score seems outlandish.

    • His words have a lot of weight but when a tool assisted speed run can’t equal the score there’s something up. It’s pretty well documented that he was great but his official records are flat out wrong. There are a lot flat out impossible scores on there as well as a bunch of scores that are literally hundreds of times higher than second place.

      • Yeah, that’s where I’m at with it now.
        The guy had decades of lies behind him and his ref was a child pornographer.
        He’s cancelled.

  • I think this guy was on the ben heck youtube channel a few weeks back and they were building a custom atari that could be programmed to match this record but was unsuccessful after many attempts. I think they could match the 5.57.

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