February 16th, 2014 - Steve Wiltshire—who grabbed every eye in the standing-room-only crowd as the "last man standing" at the Kong Off 3—found himself in an awkward position a few weeks ago: he'd just achieved 7th place all time in the Donkey Kong standings, but there was no official referee to whom he could submit the score.
Four months into its mysterious disappearance (which I wrote about in January), Twin Galaxies ownership has yet to utter a peep about its whereabouts. Every day that passes brings more gamers into the growing camp who have come to believe that the organization is gone for good.
With Wiltshire submitting a YouTube video of his game to the Donkey Kong Forum for peer review (where it was quickly verified and added to the forum's unofficial Donkey Kong scoreboard), the community seems to have reached a more-or-less explicit consensus that as far as DKF verifications are concerned, it's probably about time to shave the first two letters off of "unofficial."
Wiltshire's newest score adds fuel to the sentiment that Hank Chien's reign as the King of Kong is extremely likely to come to an end sometime in 2014.
But on whose watch?
Given the five players parked right behind Chien boasting scores within 50,000 points of his title, and Robbie Lakeman even now in the midst of an active and public push for it, the smart money is betting on the field.
It's only a matter of time until the record goes down. When it does, the community cannot defer, to an entity that it's not even sure still exists, the authority to proclaim a new world champion. With nobody else to make the call, Donkey Kong Forum will have to do the honors.
The Show Must Go On
And so, not by coup d'etat, but rather by default, it would seem that DKF has taken the reins as our game's official scorekeeper.
If you've visited Donkey Blog's Top 20 Scores page within the last few weeks, you will have noticed that the list here has been rebuilt to match the one at DKF. The Top 20 now aggregates scores verified by TG, MARP, and the referees at DKF (in addition to mixing arcade scores with those achieved on the MAME emulator).
The stark truth is that TG's scorekeeping model has not been viable for some time as a true reflection of all-encompassing "world" rankings, because their data set has the considerable weakness of only incorporating scores verified in-house. This may have worked in the 1980s when there simply weren't any other scoreboards to submit to, but it doesn't work in the 21st century, when there are many.
To make a legitimate claim of comprehensiveness, a modern scoreboard needs to assimilate the scores from all of the self-contained competitive communities (such as MARP and RetroUprising), along with those of any other reputable sources (such as TG, RecordSetter, Aurcade, etcetera). This is the model on which the Donkey Kong Forum scoreboard operates: as a multi-source score aggregator and adjudicator.
So while the return of Twin Galaxies would be welcomed with relief and enthusiasm, it has become clear that neither this blog's scoreboard nor the forum's can ever revert to being TG-centric. There are too many top scores now (including the MAME world record) that aren't and never will be submitted to Twin Galaxies. In the Internet age, drawing from all available scoreboards has become the only way to reflect the true rankings.
This weekend (February 21st through 23rd), Twitch.tv will host the first in the next series of semi-regular online Donkey Kong tournaments, refereed and sponsored (as always) by Eric Tessler and John Salter.
This time, the goal is not to decide the wildcard lineup for a future Kong Off (which was the focus of the last three Opens), but to put a price on the head of the current world record. The pot starts at $250, and will rise by an additional $100 for each tournament in which it remains unclaimed.
Needless to say, any player who collects this pot will be considered the world champion by the DK community... even if they have to go without TG's stamp of approval.
A new era has begun.
An affectionate and grateful farewell to Twin Galaxies for its 32 years of service. Thanks to Donkey Kong Forum for taking it from here. Congratulations to Steve Wiltshire for his new 7th place all-time score. And good luck to this weekend's competitors!
If you would like to play in the tournament (admission is free, with hundreds of dollars in cash prizes up for grabs), please visit this link for details.