Todd's comments post-Dragster
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- In light of recent events regarding my standing with Twin Galaxies, I have been asked by many to address the situation. As the saga has seemingly reached its conclusion, I thought now would be a good time to shed some light on a few topics and give my thoughts on the matter.
- As many of you know, Twin Galaxies has made the decision to ban me from their database. Although I disagree with their decision, I must applaud them for their strong stance on the matter of cheating. For too long, gamers have tried to cheat the system and achieve recognition for scores they did not actually make. This is something I came across numerous times while serving as a Twin Galaxies referee. I have always maintained that stronger testing and punishment was needed for those trying to manipulate the system, perhaps even requiring live performances on more questionable scores. Simply put, even videotapes and DVDs are not enough in this technological age where it is becoming increasingly easy to cheat. While I do maintain that Twin Galaxies is wrong in my particular case, if the investigation into my score(s), and subsequent banning, can serve as a catalyst to clean the database of questionable scores and facilitate methods to catch future cheaters, this is a positive thing. In my opinion, it will not stop cheaters from cheating. There is an inherent problem with the system all together; so long as human beings are involved with the input of the data, true scores will come across as false and and false scores will come across as true.
- On the topic of Dragster, there is much that needs to be said. While I will try to address as much of it as I can in my statement today, I doubt I will be able to cover it all, or say enough to appease inquiring minds. I will do my best to cover some of the most talked about topics. Perhaps the most heated debates stem from how my score was verified. As was the accepted means of verification back then, my first score was submitted via photograph, while the next two times were achieved in front of Activision staff, and at a live event respectively. While many question the validity of my claims of achieving 5:51 on Dragster in front of Activision's staff, and point to the fact that David Crane said "his position was very simple the high scores published by Activision in the 1980s were authenticated using the established methods at the time, by the governing authority at the time. I have no doubts, then or now, that Todd Rogers achieved the scores attributed to him", I ask this: Had I not achieved the score in their presence, why would Activision have acknowledged me beating their "perfect" run, and hired me to demonstrate their games? What also seems to get overlooked is that I was only sixteen, and really had nothing to gain by fabricating an unobtainable score. There was no Twin Galaxies database back then when I first started submitting photos to Activision, and the only real merit one could achieve was getting a patch and your name in Activision's news letter. I had already done this with slower times. While this score ultimately led to me working with Activision and other gaming companies, there was no way of knowing that would happen, as many like to theorize. It is also assumed by many that all three times I achieved my score it was on my own hardware, and that it was somehow modded. This is completely untrue. The idea that I would be able to bring my own console and game to Activision, and demand to only play on my system, is preposterous. Any consoles, games, joysticks, etc. that I played on, were always provided by the company or event where I was playing. In fact, one thing that is constantly overlooked is that many of my more "controversial" scores were made at live events, using the developers hardware, and were recognized by the developers as a high score. There were no tapes, polaroids, or Twin Galaxies submissions back then; only live gameplay, which has always been my preferred method. This brings me to my next Dragster topic: "Fake" certificates. What many fail to realize is that I was not part of the birth of Twin Galaxies. It wasn't until the early 1999 that I even became aware of their existence other then being published in an old issue of Joystik magazine for Gorf. Back then, I was very enthusiastic about the gaming community, and thought it would be a nice touch to recognize players achievements by reviving a classic method popularized by Activision. While my design was based on Activison's original design, it was not an exact copy and was not on the same paper as the originals. I am unaware if any of my designs have survived over the years, but telling them apart from Activison's originals would not have been difficult. Somewhere along the lines however, my concept was misconstrued as me making exact, perfect replicas of the originals. This led to the theory that if I could make exact copies, that perhaps my own certificates were forged as well. I'm uncertain as to how this theory snowballed as it did, but it is completely false.
- Many have asked my opinion on Eric Koziel and the results of his findings. I have refrained from speaking about him for the most part, which I will explain shortly, but I thought this would be a good time to clear up any assumptions that have been made. My opinion on Eric, himself, is a mixed one. On one hand, I respect what he represents - change in how we address controversial scores. The ability to fact check based on data is something I hope to see grow. Everyone should be able to compete on a level playing field, and the results should be based on skill alone. I do, however, question Eric Koziel's motives, and how he went about his efforts. Not once was there any attempt on his part to contact me or question me on my methods. Instead, he chose to use bits and pieces of interviews I have done on my shifting patterns, and use them as factual evidence of how I play, without ever actually seeing me play in person. I am not a hard person to reach - my phone number, and email are easy to obtain, and I don't recall anyone having trouble contacting me. To me, it's an act of cowardice when you choose to call someone out but refuse to speak to them man to man. If you feel I cheated, or think I'm a fraud, say it to my face. We may disagree, but at least I can respect someone who hears me out before passing judgement. In my opinion, he has only gone about this matter the way he has to draw interest in his book, which he has shamelessly promoted throughout his argument, and I will not engage him in his attempts to draw interest in it.
- In closing, I would like to address why I have not previously discussed this topic directly. What many may or may not know, is there were plans for me to play live and attempt to replicate my Dragster record. At first I embraced the challenge, and looked forward to proving my score legitimate. I remained silent on the matter, as I believed that in this situation actions would speak louder than words. I began practicing during this time to get my timing right, and though a 5:51 was not achieved I was feeling good about my chances of tying my score. What made me sour on doing such an event, and ultimately cancel it, was the reaction from the gaming community. Degrading remarks filled my PM's and emails. Even my family was being harassed for being associated with me. I began to wonder who I really was trying to satisfy with my record attempt. If you wish to call me a cheat, a fraud, etc., you have every right to until you see evidence that says otherwise. Seeing is believing. But when the remarks become personal, and my friends and family are dragged into the mire, it is no longer about gaming. People are wishing ill will upon me and my family over what? A high score on a video game? If that is what the gaming community has become, then despite my love for video games and all of my contributions and experience to help the scene grow by playing live at events and supporting the community, it is not worth jeopardizing my personal life and family outside of gaming.
- Though gamers such as Rudy Ferretti and Roy Schildt may have given some people the idea that high scores are all that matters, gaming is not life. Gaming is meant to be fun. The competitive aspect of it should be used to bring people together in pursuit of a common goal, not tear down friendships and communities. Who I am, and what I have done with my life will not be defined by a score that I produced live, that others do not believe because they were not there. For those who have shown me unwavering support over the last few months, thank you. I will continue play games I enjoy and have fun doing so. After all, isn't that what gaming is about?
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