Dragster (video game)

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Cover art
Designer(s)David Crane
Platform(s)Atari 2600
Genre(s)Drag racing
Gameplay screenshot of Dragster

Dragster, released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, is the first video game developed by Activision. It was programmed by David Crane, who later wrote Pitfall![2] The object of the game is to either beat the player's opponent across the screen, or to race against the clock for best time, depending on the settings used. Dragster is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1977 Kee Games coin-op Drag Race.[3]


Dragster was reviewed by Video magazine in its "Arcade Alley" column where it was described as having "an interesting premise" and as being "undeniably clever and, with a lot of patience, ... probably fun" but the reviewers also called it the "least" of Activision's early Atari 2600 releases. Specific criticism was given to the "clumsy" and "annoying" gameplay mechanics, and the game design was characterized as "ill-suited to the Atari control system".[4]:105

World record and controversy[edit]

In 1982, video gamer Todd Rogers claimed to have set the world record for Dragster with a time of 5.51 seconds. Until January 29, 2018 this claim was accepted by video game record-keeping organization Twin Galaxies,[5] and Guinness World Records, which later also recognized the achievement as the longest-standing video-game world record. Rogers had previously said he put the car into second gear as the countdown timer reaches zero.[6] Eric "OmniGamer" Koziel, a speedrunner and creator of tool-assisted speedruns, analyzed the code of the game. He did not find anything that would enable one to shift up from 1st gear during the countdown. Additionally, he created a spreadsheet that replicated the game's speed system. The best possible time observed from the generated data was 5.57. He determined that it is impossible to legitimately get a time of 5.51. Following this, the claim was mired in controversy, and many believed it to be illegitimate, especially after it came to light that all of Rogers' other records had been approved by a single referee who collected no evidence.

On January 29, 2018, the Twin Galaxies administrative staff removed all of Todd Rogers' records and banned him from participating in their competitive leaderboards.[7][8] Guinness World Records also removed the score from its database and revoked his Guinness World Record for the longest-standing video game high score.[9][10]

The current world record is 5.57 seconds. This time has been achieved by multiple players.[11] Based on analysis of the game's code and a derivative spreadsheet of optimal times, this is believed to be the fastest time possible.[12]


  1. ^ "Dragster". GameFAQs. 2015.
  2. ^ "The Giant List of Classic Game Programmers".
  3. ^ "The Dot Eaters Classic Video Game History - Player 3 Stage 1: Pixel Boxes". Emuunlim.com. 2000. Archived from the original on 2016-09-01.
  4. ^ Kunkel, Bill; Laney, Frank (December 1980). "Arcade Alley: A New Era Begins - Activision Exploits Atari's Success". Video. Reese Communications: 12 and 105. ISSN 0147-8907.
  5. ^ "Scores of NTSC - Game 1, Difficulty B [Fastest Time] - Dragster". Twin Galaxies. Archived from the original on 2017-08-21.
  6. ^ "Guinness Officially Nixes Todd Rogers' Dragster Records". Archived from the original on 2018-02-01. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  8. ^ Wang, Amy B. (2018-01-29). "A man accused of cheating at video games may lose his decades-old Guinness World Record". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  9. ^ "Guinness Officially Nixes Todd Rogers' Dragster Records". Kotaku Australia. 2018-01-31. Retrieved 2018-02-05.
  10. ^ "Guinness Officially Nixes Todd Rogers' Dragster Records". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 2018-02-02. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  11. ^ "Dragster - Leaderboard - speedrun.com". www.speedrun.com. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  12. ^ "Dragster World Records". Dragster World Records. Retrieved 2018-01-30.

External links[edit]