Todd Rogers supposedly set a world record in 1982 on the Atari 2600 game Dragster by registering a time of 5.51 seconds. The game is a drag racing simulation and his score is 0.06 faster than several other players who were all tied for second place.
The validity of his score has long been in question, partly due to the brick wall that many second-place contenders seem to have hit. However, in the ’80s, Activision validated his score using accepted methods for the time (a Polaroid of the score on the screen). Now more than 35 years later, we have better ways to test for exactly what is possible in a video game.
Eric “Omnigamer” Koziel has created several computer-assisted speed runs on various games. Last year, he developed a tool that can run Dragster. The software can shift gears with optimal timing and the fastest race the program could achieve was 5.57. So theoretically, a “perfect run” can be no faster than this computer-aided time. This theory is backed up in practice by 13 other “second-place” players tied with a time of exactly 5.57.
“We have evaluated this evidence carefully and found it to be compelling and relevant. We care very much about our scoreboard integrity and will continue to improve it step-by-step, no matter how painful it might occasionally be.”
Twin Galaxies, which is an organization that keeps and tracks video game records, has been arbitrating the dispute against the record for about a year now. After looking over all the evidence, the board has concluded that Rogers’ score is illegitimate.
“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. 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. We have notified Guinness World Records of our decision.”
Not only has his Dragster score been invalidated, but several other records he held are now in question and are no longer recognized. He had been in first place for the Atari 2600 version of Donkey Kong (over 15 million points) and scored over 16 million on Centipede (5200 version). These records, as well as many others, have also been questioned or removed in past disputes.
Rogers, who actually worked for Twin Galaxies from 1999 to 2012 according to Kotaku, declined to comment on the situation.