Dragster champion Todd Rogers has just lost his crown after 35 years

Todd Rogers, one of video games’ biggest record holders, has fallen from grace after 35 years at the top as his cheating has finally been exposed.

In 1982, Rogers supposedly set a world record time of 5.51 seconds in the lesser-known Atari 2600 game Dragster. His record was formally recognised by scorekeeping organisation Twin Galaxies and, in turn, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest-standing game record.

However, last year, speedrunners began to question just how legitimate Roger’s record was. There are countless YouTube videos listed online that detail how his Dragster record was seemingly impossible to achieve. Verified by tool-assisted speedruns, analysis of the game’s code and even a complete console teardown by the Ben Heck Show, Rodger’s speed of 5.51 seconds isn’t doable.

Many speedrunners tried to reach Rogers’ ellusive 5.51 second race time in Dragster but so far nobody has managed to even come close, casting even more doubt on the legitimacy of the record. Eric “Omnigamer” Koziel began a campaign to beat Rogers’ record after calling it into question and found it impossible to be any quicker than the 5.57 seconds tool-assisted attempts had managed. Since Koziel attained his top score, 13 others have also managed the time, yet Rogers’ alleged record still sits far above the rest.

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After all of the evidence began mounting against Rogers, and a damning video was released on Reddit, yesterday evening Twin Galaxies finally scrubbed his 35-year record from its leaderboards.

“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,” a moderator post said on the site’s message boards. “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.”

The Guinness Book of World Records still officially recognises Rogers’ “achievement” in Dragster as the longest-held video game record, but that could potentially change over the next few days.

Interestingly, Dragster creator and Activision co-founder David Crane doesn’t believe Rogers cheated his 1982 record. Speaking to Twin Galaxies he reiterated his stance that Rogers’ score was verified to the best of their methods at the time, and he’s sticking by it.

Regardless of whether it’s legitimate or not, seeing Rogers’ score knocked from the top spot after 35 years brings other claims made by him and other early speedrunners into question. Current new records undergo heavy scrutiny before they’re approved, but classic high-scores and speedruns are just held as gospel until someone comes along and decides to question it.

Perhaps Rogers was an easy target thanks to his long-standing record and prolific accounts of his success all over the web. But one Reddit user sums up Rogers better than anything I could ever say: “biggest cheater in video game history? Guess he is a record holder after all.”

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