Video game scoreboard Twin Galaxies is facing a lawsuit from prominent arcade gamer Billy Mitchell.
The site removed Mitchell's world record scores for Donkey Kong back in April 2018, claiming they were not achieved on unmodified arcade hardware. Mitchell is now suing for defamation in an effort to have his scores reinstated.
Mitchell is already known for several world records across various arcade games. Some of his efforts with Donkey Kong appeared prominently in the 2007 feature-length documentary King of Kong.
Mitchell confirmed the legal action to Ars Technica, telling the site: "My law firm and I are fully confident that we will establish a prime face [sic] case for all parts of the lawsuit."
The suit was actually filed in April 2019, but has only recently surfaced due to a misspelling of Twin Galaxies -- originally filed as "Twin Galexies."
Mitchell filed exactly one year after his score were removed to adhere to California's statute of limitations for defamation cases. It was eventually served to Twin Galaxies back in February, with a more detailed complaint made in March.
It argues that Twin Galaxies' claim he didn't achieve his record score legitimately "at least implied [that he was a cheater], so that any reasonable reader would understand Twin Galaxies has called Mitchell a cheater who deserved punishment by stripping him of all his Twin Galaxies records and banning him for life from submitting further records."
Ars Technica notes that Twin Galaxies' original statement about the removal of these scores does not explicitly call Mitchell a cheater or comment directly on his character.
In its own anti-SLAPP motion designed to defeat Mitchell's lawsuit, Twin Galaxies says its statements about his scores were not legally defamatory. Instead, it argues they were "nothing more than the opinion of Twin Galaxies."
It points to the leading clause in the sentence "We now believe that [the scores] are not from an original unmodified DK arcade PCB, and so our investigation of the tape ends with that conclusion and assertion [emphasis added]."
The site claims that during its months-long public investigation, Mitchell "had the opportunity to submit evidence in support of his score performances and to engage in the lively public debate about the scores."
But the site says he chose not to do so, instead relying on court proceedings, which Twin Galaxies says are "not the forum for [Mitchell] to get revenge."
It warns that if Mitchell is victorious, it "would have chilling effects on the freedom of speech."
Twin Galaxies' anti-SLAPP motion is due to be heard by a judge on July 6, at which point both parties will be able to debate these issues.