Billy Mitchell Pac-Man
Image: William McEvoy (License: CC BY-SA 4.0)

You can accuse Billy Mitchell of a lot of things, but you can't say his life is uneventful. One of the earliest trailblazers in the world of video game high scores, Mitchell set a "perfect" score of 3,333,360 points in Namco's Pac-Man and has held other records during his decade-spanning career, but it's his association with Nintendo's Donkey Kong – and his role in the 2007 documentary King of Kong – which has earned him enduring fame.

However, in recent years many of Mitchell's scores have been called into question. The accusation is that Mitchell used MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) to record many of his best efforts rather than original arcade hardware – something Mitchell denies. This claim was taken so seriously that in 2018 Guinness World Records stripped Mitchell of his records, alongside famous high score leaderboard Twin Galaxies. However, last year Guinness reinstated Mitchell's scores, but Twin Galaxies did not.

As a result, Mitchell filed a lawsuit against the organisation, which reacted by filing an anti-“strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP) motion. This is a mechanism used to ensure that frivolous lawsuits don't go to court (thanks for the clarification, Stephen Totilo).

However, this motion has been rejected by the State of California’s Second Appellate, which means Mitchell and his legal team can proceed with the lawsuit against Twin Galaxies as planned.

Here's a statement from Mitchell's PR team:

We are pleased that the trial court’s denial of Twin Galaxies’ anti-SLAPP motion was affirmed. It is worth noting that the Court of Appeal found that there was sufficient evidence to support a finding that Twin Galaxies accused Mr. Mitchell of cheating. 'We interpret Twin Galaxies’ statement as the media and Mitchell did: it accused Mitchell of cheating to achieve his world record scores.' It is also worth noting that the Court of Appeal found sufficient evidence to support a finding that he did not, and that the accusations of cheating were made with actual malice, citing evidence showing Twin Galaxies ignored an abundance of evidence verifying the scores, and instead relied upon questionable evidence from likely biased sources. We are excited to get this case back to the trial court where a jury can completely vindicate Mr. Mitchell once and for all.