The Atari Sports Almanac And The Dragster Controversy

By now most people in the Atari, competitive gaming, and speed running communities have heard of TwinGalaxies invalidating Todd Roger’s Dragster score and delivering a lifetime ban which is to include the purge of all of his scores. I received an email this morning asking if my opinion on the matter has changed and if I would be updating the Dragster chapter in my book The Unauthorized Atari 2600 Sports Almanac.

In the book I had mentioned that I believe the score to be legitimate based on my understanding of the controversy and mechanics of the game. The book, and specifically that chapter was written in early 2017 months before the controversy started to boil over and more information about Dragster surfaced.

Based on the new information presented in late 2017, my opinion had evolved on the matter and I no longer considered Roger’s Dragster score to be legitimate. In my latest book, The Unauthorized Atari 2600 Activision Companion, I acknowledge my changing opinion in the Dragster chapter.

The Sports Almanac book is printed on demand and can be updated at any time. I have pondered updating the book to reflect my current opinion but I am on the fence if I should. It’s one thing to change a factual error or even a grammatical error, but it’s something else entirely to change a book because an opinion changed.

For now the chapter will remain unchanged, though I may include an extra page in future printings to explain that my opinion has evolved.

So why did I believe the Dragster time was legitimate in the first place? Well if you’ve played Atari for as long as I have you may have experienced glitches either due to dirty or dusty games, cartridges not pressed firmly into the console, or through ‘frying’ the system either intentionally or not. (Frying is the act of flipping the power switch on and off quickly resulting in the game being glitched). I gave Rogers the benefit of the doubt that the time was legit, but the information that has surfaced over the last several months has invalidated those theories.

Stories like these, no matter how ridiculous they may seem, continues to breath new life into retro gaming and introducing new generations to classic games.  Regardless if you support Rogers or TwinGalaxies or not, I am grateful we have topics like these to debate.