Story highlights

  • Billy Mitchell is a initial chairman to grasp a ideal measure in Pac-Man
  • He was crowned 1999 Video Game “Player of a Century” by Pac-Man’s founder
  • He achieved record high scores in Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Centipede and Burger Time

Program note: Explore a decade that continues to intruigued us today: CNN Original Series “The Eighties” airs Thursdays during 9 p.m.

“Who was a initial one to a moon? Neil Armstrong. Who was a initial chairman to get a ideal a ideal measure on Pac-Man? Billy Mitchell. we was a initial one. No one cares who was a second,” he said.

Knighted a Video Game “Player of a Century,” Mitchell has reason universe annals in Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr., Centipede and Burger Time.
Mitchell grew adult in South Florida in a early 1980s, unresolved around a Grand Prix Race-o-Rama arcade and entertainment park. While he started out personification pinball, he began to notice a lot of hype around this cold new thing called arcade games. He wanted a square of a action.

“Video games were apropos some-more and some-more renouned and they were hidden a glow from pinball,” he said. “All a foe was relocating to video games and we wanted that competition. ”

College scholarships for video gamers
Being good during arcade games in a early ’80s was kind of like being a star quarterback on a high propagandize football team, Mitchell recalled.
“It was an comprehensive sporting environment. It was a place where everybody wanted to be. Everybody was fighting to try to be a best and we were during a forefront of it,” Mitchell said.
In 1982, during a tallness of what some cruise a golden age of arcade games, LIFE repository did a print fire with a 20 best arcade games players. Mitchell, who was 17 years aged during a time, done it his avocation to be comparison for that photo.

Mitchell, front row, second from right, in a 1982 LIFE repository shoot.

“I was really certain we had a universe record on Donkey Kong,” he said. “There was a legendary measure that was aloft than mine. we was totally paranoid we was going to be left out of a photo, so in a one-month period, we began personification Centipede and before to a eventuality we set a universe record on Centipede, that is how I’m featured in LIFE magazine.”
It was during that same entertainment that Mitchell also became a central world record hilt for Donkey Kong, violence out Steve Sanders, who claimed to reason that same, legendary high measure that Mitchell feared would keep him out of a LIFE repository photo.

The tip of his success

Mitchell attributes his success in arcade games to an strident ability to focus, an mania for foe and a bit of luck.
“You have to have a concentration that we can play in a battlefield,” he said. “I get knocked down only like everybody else, though a fact of a matter is, we don’t ever ever, ever surrender. Simply standup and keep pulling forward.”

At a same time, Mitchell knew when it was time to take a break. As a recognition of arcade games began to decline in a mid-1980s, he redirected his concentration into holding over his dad’s restaurant, kicking off his possess hot salsa business and starting a family.
“When we was 20 years old, we satisfied we couldn’t play arcade games forever. The attention of arcade games was also commencement to change,” Mitchell said. “It was a commencement of a shift from arcade games to home diversion systems.”
For a subsequent decade and a half, Mitchell frequency overwhelmed arcade games during all. His prohibited salsa business took off; he got married to his wife, Evelyn, and had 3 kids. But in a late 1990s, Mitchell perceived a call, and on a other side of that call was a hazard to his legacy.
“These Canadian guys were on a line, claiming they had a ability to get a ideal measure in Pac-Man,” Mitchell recalled. “To concede someone else to come and get credit for a ideal measure in front of me, was not acceptable. So there became a foe for a ideal Pac-Man game.”

Nine Pac-Man dots from victory

On Jul 3, 1999, Mitchell and his Canadian aspirant Rick Fothergill faced off during Funspot, a ancestral arcade in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.
Mitchell, who knew Fothergill to contest wearing a red Canadian dwindle cape, motionless that he’d arrive nationalistic himself, donning a necktie temperament an American flag.
In a extreme foe that lasted a whole weekend, Mitchell and Fothergill went head-to-head.

What resulted was unprecedented.
Mitchell kick a game, scoring 3,333,360 points.
He became a initial chairman ever to grasp a perfect measure in Pac-Man.
Despite that vital victory, Mitchell still tips his shawl to his aspirant who was dots divided from violence him to it.
“Fothergill came 9 dots from a ideal score, right before me, right in front of me, it was that close,” Mitchell said. “But a fact of a matter is that we played. we was a really initial one to get a live ideal score.”

‘Like a stone star’

After defeating Fothergill. Mitchell was bombarded with TV interviews and open coming requests.
He also perceived a really special invitation from a owner of Pac-Man himself, Masaya Nakamura, who invited him to attend a Tokyo Game Show.
In Sep 1999, Mitchell trafficked to Tokyo and arrived to a red runner welcome.
“From a impulse we arrived during a airport, we was treated like a stone star,” Mitchell said. “When we walked by a crowd, a crowds would separate.”
During his stay, Mitchell was put into a room with a row of Masaya Nakamura’s middle circle.
He couldn’t trust that he now had a event to ask a creators of Pac-Man anything he could ever wish about his favorite game. But fast Mitchell satisfied they knew reduction than he did.

Billy Mitchell sits in his Hollywood, Florida, bureau where he develops tradition arcade diversion covers.

“I began to ask questions about Pac-Man, and they would respond, ‘Mr. Mitchell we have no idea, we never suspicion scores like this were possible,’” he recalled. “They had some-more questions than we did. They had never seen Pac-Man played during that turn before.”

The legacy

Today, Mitchell wears his brownish-red hair in a shoulder-length swoop. His brave is delicately embellished and, notwithstanding a South Florida heat, he’s frequency seen in anything though a colourful nationalistic tie and a three-piece suit. This is a character Mitchell has honed given his Pac-Man ideal score. It’s his character and satirical glamour that, in part, have kept his name during a forefront of a arcade gaming world.

In 2007, Mitchell was featured in a documentary, “King of Kong,” that decorated him ruthlessly fortifying his Donkey Kong high measure opposite Steve Wiebe, a humble family male from Seattle.
Despite Mitchell’s, during times, mean efforts, Weibe eventually did turn a new Donkey Kong universe record holder, with a measure of 1,064,500.
Since then, 11 other gamers have surpassed Mitchell’s score.
Despite losing some of his universe record holdings, Mitchell believes his bequest will always exist anyone else’s high scores.
“To be a initial one to get a ideal measure on Pac-Man is significant, to be a initial one to do a kill shade on Donkey Kong is significant,” Mitchell said.
“It all comes behind to that that is first.”

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