Home / Technology / Behind the 12-year-old Wii Sports hoax, which fooled the Internet for a short time

Behind the 12-year-old Wii Sports hoax, which fooled the Internet for a short time

Prior to resigning in late 2017, Uber's then CEO, Travis Kalanick, was exposed to more than just his share of scandals. But by far the most important of these was Kalanick's oft-repeated claim that he was "the world's second-highest score for the Nintendo Wii Tennis video game" at one point, as a self-confident New York Times profile indi- cated.

Ars dug deeply to learn the truth about this claim, and published a 3,000-word exposé that clearly proved (read: likely) that Kalanick was really just confused about what it means to be in a game like to have a "high score". Wii Sports Tennis .

Well, more than two years after this blockbuster report shook the world of tech-executive video game highscore competition, new information has surfaced that could revolutionize our understanding of this important (read: meaningless) story.

Wait, what happened?

First a partial summary: What comes closest to Wii Sports Tennis is the player's "skill level". This is the Elo style that measures performance, depending on how well you defend yourself against the computerized AI.

Based on a formula derived from a truly obsessed Wii Sports tennis player takes about 1

60 perfect 40-love matches against the computer opponents of the game to increase their skill level to 2399. After that, the skill level approaches asymptotically, but never quite reaches the mythical 2400, as the game's internal decimal is always rounded down to 2399.

Skill rating Wii Sports . ">  Unless there's a magical, unknown way to change photos, this is the definitive proof of a skill rating of 2400 <em> Wii Sports </em>." Src = "https://cdn.arstechnica.net /wp-content/uploads/2017/04/2400wiitennis-640×480.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 480 "srcset =" https: //cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/ 2017/04/ 2400wiitennis.jpg 2x "/><figcaption class=
Enlarge / Unless there's a magical, unknown way to manipulate photos, this is the definitive proof of a 2400 Wii Sports skill rating.

The only half-credible claim to the contrary comes from an unsigned post to the malfunctioning Webhost 250free in early 2007 (archived here). The anonymous poster (posing with a Mii avatar named "Adam") wrote that it took "almost 20,000 games" and over 900 hours of play in 78 days to get from a 2399 rating to a 2400 rating. A counter displayed on this page suggests that more than 60,000 people have read Adam's story.

The truth of this anonymous claim was always questionable, even though Adam poses as a "photographic proof" in front of a screen with a rating of 2400. For our purposes, it was important that the claim itself existed online at the end of the 2000s, when Kalanick found it plausible and could perhaps cite as evidence that its alleged 2399 rating was "placed second".

A Message from the Past

Remember and imagine my reaction when I received an email with the headline "My name is Adam Haller and I'm the shirtless guy on the 2400 Wii Tennis Picture . " received.

 Our little one
Enlarge / Our little "Adam" has grown up and found a shirt!

Haller, who later affirmed his identity with a more modern (shirted) photo to set out the details of his hoax more than 10 years earlier (here lightly edited here for clarity):

I just wanted to let you know that at some point there was a global ranking for Wii Tennis. It was not hosted directly by Nintendo, but by a website similar to highscores.com (I can not remember the exact URL). [Editor’s note: He may be thinking of the defunct wii-records.com]

I can remember that I spent some when I played this game weeks to the score of 2399 and then did the picture. After that, I decided to tag the image in Photoshop with 2400. Mainly to compete with a friend I played a lot with. I submitted the photo to the ranking site, and for some time they put me in first place, but they kept asking for a video verification that I obviously could not give them. They finally took me off.

During the same period, I created a website on 250free.com to blog about. I then submitted this site to Digg and created several fake accounts to improve a few times until it gained some momentum. I've also posted the site in several other Wii Sports forums under misrepresentation to provide additional hype. I was pleased with the comments that people had posted about it. Some claimed they had been trying for weeks to achieve the same thing, which is probably impossible. I found it funny to introduce myself to people trying to bring this impossible performance.

I hope this information did not appear too late. I do not like the idea anymore that people spend a crazy amount of time to reach the 2400 points and think that it is possible if it is not so.

There you have it. A confession by "Adam" himself that the claimed proficiency rating of 2400, once widely recognized (read in some old web forums and a defunct online highscore blackboard with a half-remembered URL), was a hoax!

On the one hand, this is good news for Kalanick, who can now be fully confident that his assumed ability rating of 2399 is not tied for "second place" in the world, but actually for first place! This "rating" is not really a "highscore" achievement that resembles a perfect game of Pac-Man or anything like that, but it does show a decent amount of dedication and repetition of Kalanick's side. So good for him.

On the other hand, this means that Kalanick was apparently among those deceived by a shirtless cheater who happened to have access to a digital camera and some basic Photoshop skills in 2007. As usual, the moral of the story is extremely skeptical of anything you read on the Internet. That too!

Listing picture by Adam Haller

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