Twin Galaxies is going on the offensive in its long-running legal and public relations battle with Billy Mitchell. In a cross-complaint filed last month, the video game score-tracking organization accuses Mitchell and Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day of a “decades-long pattern of abuse, impropriety, nepotism, and fraud” intended to falsely “manufacture a persona for Billy Mitchell as the greatest video game player of all time.”
They “knew that these score performances were fake”
The counterclaim, filed in response to Mitchell’s own claims of defamation against Twin Galaxies, goes much farther in attacking Mitchell than the organization’s previous statements. In the past, Twin Galaxies’ defense against defamation has narrowly focused on what it says was a good-faith analysis of the tapes Mitchell submitted for three alleged Donkey Kong high scores, which Twin Galaxies no longer recognizes as legitimate.
In the past, the organization was careful not to speak to Mitchell’s potential motives or any actions that may have led to the creation of those tapes. Instead, it focused on technical anomalies in the video itself that led to the determination that “we now believe that they are not from an original unmodified DK arcade PCB.”
In its new counterclaim, though, Twin Galaxies now directly says Mitchell “lacked the requisite natural skill or ability to be the greatest video game player of all time” and accuses Mitchell and Day (collectively referred to as “Old Twin Galaxies” because of their alleged intractable ties to the corporation) of planning to “return Billy Mitchell’s prestige with fraudulent scores.”
“Both Billy Mitchell and Walter Day knew that these score performances were fake,” Twin Galaxies writes in its complaint of the Donkey Kong score tapes. “But [it] still included the scores on the Twin Galaxies Score Database because of their need for self-aggrandization, their avarice, and their desire to create perceived value for the database so that they could one day sell Twin Galaxies and the Twin Galaxies Score Database and take the money for themselves.”
Questioning the first perfect Pac-Man
While much of Twin Galaxies’ complaint focuses on the heavily discussed issues surrounding Mitchell’s Donkey Kong tapes, the complaint goes farther in alleging that Mitchell and Day sought to suppress scores from other competitors and alter rules in order to secure Mitchell’s position atop the scoreboards.
That includes allegedly rejecting claims from other players who had achieved a “perfect” Pac-Man score of 3,333,360 prior to Mitchell’s 1999 record. That allegation, which has made the rounds in high-score circles for years, would undercut Mitchell’s claim to fame as the first to reach that lofty goal.
In other cases, Old Twin Galaxies allegedly suppressed Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Jr. scores to protect Mitchell’s position, including a number of scores that were central to the drama in the 2007 King of Kong documentary.
Legal and financial interests
Mitchell and Day’s alleged manipulation and lying about old scores has become a legal matter, the counterclaim states, in part because the pair “represented and warranted in the Purchase Agreement that the Twin Galaxies Score Database does not contain any untrue, or misleading statements of fact.”
The alleged lies led to “a loss of value of the assets purchased from Old Twin Galaxies, particularly a loss of value in the Twin Galaxies Score Database because of the association with fraudulent scores,” according to the complaint. That alleged fraud also “fomented distrust in many of these important communities toward Twin Galaxies, thereby diminishing its value” without the new owners’ knowledge, the complaint states.
Beyond the score adjudication allegations, the counterclaim accuses Mitchell and Day of mismanaging the funds of “Old Twin Galaxies” to “[treat] the assets of the corporation as their own by paying personal debts with the corporation’s funds.” According to the complaint, the pair co-mingled their own funds with those of the corporation, made promises of stock offerings that it never intended to keep, and stiffed creditors on multiple debts.
The alleged financial improprieties also extend to a previous 2008 sale of the Twin Galaxies assets to Peter Bouvier. That $ 200,000 sale was reversed, the counterclaim alleges, when Mitchell and Day “took control of the Twin Galaxies Score Database from Peter Bouvier by exercising undue influence over him while he was incapacitated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
Twin Galaxies says that this counterclaim wouldn’t have been necessary if the organization had won a dismissal in a recent anti-SLAPP motion against Mitchell’s defamation suit. But now that Mitchell’s suit is heading to trial, he has, “in a sense, forced [Twin Galaxies’] hand to pursue these claims” in order to fully defend itself, according to a statement from Twin Galaxies lawyer David Tashroudian.
Mitchell and his lawyers have not responded to a request from Ars for comment on the new allegations. A hearing on the cross-complaint is due to be argued in Los Angeles County Court on December 11.