Billy Mitchell’s Old Website Now Debunks His Controversial Pac-Man High Scores

Billy Mitchell’s Old Website Now Debunks His Controversial Pac-Man High Scores
Screenshot: Guinness World Record / Kotaku, Fair Use

If nothing else, you’ve gotta respect the bit. Billy Mitchell, the so-called “video game player of the century,” appears to have let ownership over his old website, perfectpacman.com, lapse some years ago. Now someone else has commandeered the domain, and is using it to publish a multipart investigation into the oft-questioned legitimacy of Mitchell’s world-record Pac-Man scores.

There’s a lot of fogginess around the situation, but one thing’s clear as day: Lmao.

Wait, who is Billy Mitchell?

Mitchell, who is often pictured wearing a black button-up and a tie plastered in American stars-and-stripes iconography, made his name as the first known person to hit a “perfect” score (3,333,360 points) in Pac-Man, a feat he accomplished in 1999. He also set a bunch of Donkey Kong records, including three separate highest-ever scores, set in 2005, 2007, and 2010.

But evidence emerged that Mitchell used the popular software-based emulator M.A.M.E. (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) to achieve at least some of his scores, rather than playing on authentic arcade hardware. Both Guinness World Records and Twin Galaxies, the popular gaming leaderboard site, stripped Mitchell of his accolades.

Last year, the Guinness World Records organisation reinstated his records, something Mitchell told Ars Technica was in the works six months prior but was held up due to “legal” talks. Twin Galaxies has not reinstated Mitchell’s records.

Got it. So what’s the deal with the website?

Over the weekend, Kotaku received a tip that Mitchell’s old domain name has been hijacked and is now dedicated toward uncovering the truth. The tipster, “Walter C.,” told Kotaku in further correspondence that “the domain was first acquired in June [2021] with no real goal in mind.”

Walter C. — who did not share his last name, and is not to be confused with former Twin Galaxies owner and Mitchell supporter Walter Day — claimed that Mitchell’s site had been vacated since the aughts. A few years ago, someone picked up the domain and started posting about innocuous topics like the release schedule for Magic: The Gathering. Other coverage flirted with Mitchell’s sphere; at one point, the site published a link to a profile, written by former Kotaku EIC Stephen Totilo, of Twin Galaxies ref Robert Mruczek. (Mruczek, or someone using his name, is a frequent commenter on perfectpacman.com these days.)

But then that person’s ownership lapsed. A post dated August 31 of this year, titled “Under new management,” reads, in full:

Welcome to our new blog, www.perfectpacman.com. This blog will be dedicated to gaming related topics of interest to us. If you like what you see, just give us a whistle! Disclaimer: The new site administration has no affiliation with any liars and/or cheaters and/or narcissistic frauds who may have owned this web domain in the past. But we appreciate the free advertising lol.

Every post is displayed similarly, with no byline or author info, despite no shortage of phrases written in first-person. The vast majority of those “gaming related topics” are dedicated to examining Mitchell’s claims to Pac-Man fame. And most of those posts are part of a series, planned to eventually come out in nine installments, with the grandiose headline “The Video Game Fraud of the Century,” a clear play on the title Mitchell routinely claims. This series of articles, which is also cross-posted on a profile Walter C. maintains on the Twin Galaxies website, extensively documents and dissects — via screenshots, archival news coverage, books, blogs, forums, podcasts, Twitch streams, and a library’s worth of text — the history of Mitchell’s 1999 Pac-Man high score.

Walter C. told Kotaku that the series wasn’t initially planned to run on Mitchell’s old site, but that “late in the process” he and his part-time collaborators — though Walter C. is leading the charge, other people, who wish to remain unidentified, contributed research — thought to do so, which could boost the site’s prominence.

“If Billy did the perfect score in 1999, I’d want to know it, definitively. And if I was sure that he did, I would report it. Or if he didn’t do it, I’d want to know that,” Walter C. told Kotaku. “The stories around this supposed milestone achievement are fraught with inconsistencies and contradictions.”

Since it’s still a work in progress and covers a very contentious subject, the veracity of many aspects is up for debate. But while it’s hard to miss that Walter C. has an axe to grind with the famous Pac-Man / Donkey Kong player, it’s not like controversy surrounding some of Mitchell’s claimed achievements hasn’t been piling up over the last decade, either. If you’ve time to kill, you can read the series here — parts one, two, three, four, five, and six are currently up — and judge for yourself. Fair warning: Each section is looong.

But I think we can all agree on one thing: Snapping up a controversial figure’s old domain to then dunk on them is a tremendous bit. 3,333,360 points out of 3,333,360 points, definitely.

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