My Thoughts On The Atari Dragster Controversy

By David G. Firestone

I’m not as into video games as I am into racing. I’m not into racing games at all. The games I have tried didn’t impress me. I’m a first person shooter man myself. But I learned about a drag racing game I didn’t realize existed until last week.

Released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, Dragster was released by Activision. Depending on who you ask, it may or not be the first third party game in video game history. The premise is that you are racing a dragster, and to play, is as follows. You take control of a dragster, and when the race starts, you hold the button, and move the joystick to shift gears. You are competing for a low elapsed time.

I became aware of this game because of a controversy that erupted last month, that I completely missed. There are professional video gamers out there, and there are guys who have made a career out of setting video game records. The video game records are kept on a site called Twin Galaxies. The oldest video game record was in Dragster, where Todd Rodgers earned a 5.51 ET, after he “started the race in second gear.”

I say it WAS the oldest record in video game history, because last month, it emerged that a 5.51 ET on Dragster was impossible. After examining the coding, and using various methods, it was determined that the lowest possible score to get on Dragster was 5.57. Rodgers’ claim of starting the race in second gear was also proven to be impossible.

This revelation opened the floodgates, and all of Todd Rodgers’ records were examined. His records were either improbably high, or impossible. After this news broke, Twin Galaxies, under pressure, removed all of Rodgers’ records, and banned him from the site for life. His 1700+ video game records, and his Guinness World Records were all lost, and he’s been exposed for the fraud he is.

If these records were impossible, why were they in place for so long? Well because Rodgers’ knew how to cheat the system to his advantage. He had a “referee” who was supposed to be an independent third person enter his scores. The problem is that Rodgers’ referee was a man by the name of Ron Corcoran who was in Rodgers’ pocket. It also alleged that Rodgers added in his own scores to Twin Galaxies.

The fact that this fraud has been exposed for the cheater that he is, and has lost every one of his ill-gotten gains makes me smile. I love watching frauds getting exposed. He isn’t a legend anymore, and now he’s just a middle-aged guy who plays video games. He has to get a real job now, and he can’t coast by. I hope he spends the rest of his life working at Walmart for minimum wage.

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