Out of the 60 year lifespan of video games, Walter Day, one of the most influential figures in gaming, has spent half of it focusing on developing the culture of competitive gaming. In 1981 Walter founded one of the most well-renowned arcades in the world, Twin Galaxies, which became the official adjudicating organization to track records in arcades and pinball. Complex had a chance to speak with the father of competitive gaming to get his account on how it all started, and where it is going today as eSports has reached its 30 year anniversary.
The competitive gaming platform you have created has evolved over the course of 30 years. Now it is known as eSports, what are your thoughts on the evolution of it ?
eSports is the natural evolution of competitive gaming. Now that the growing power of the online infrastructure supports high-level bandwidth, that facilitates the creation of a worldwide spectator sport. There is no reason why sponsors, advertisers, players and professional teams can't flourish. Major League Gaming (MLG) is a prime example of eSports being successful.
Twin Galaxies was one of the first competitive gaming organizations to host a televised international video game world championship in 1983. How did you manage to do that?
Twin Galaxies was the center of the video game world back in 1982-1985. When That's Incredible decided to do a video game event, they came to Twin Galaxies to discuss the many possibilities. I persistently proposed the idea that they do a five-game arcade contest using Twin Galaxies' percentile ranking system. Eventually they agreed and came to Twin Galaxies to conduct the Iowa part of the event (January 8-9, 1983) that produced three finalists. They were flown to Los Angeles to compete in the legendary grand finals won by Ben Gold (broadcast February 21, 1983). The event was a very big deal. It featured 19 champions who were all multiple world record holders from New York, California, Alaska, South Carolina, Montana, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Texas and Ohio.
"There is no reason why sponsors, advertisers, players and professional teams can't flourish." In the famed Video Game Documentary The King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters, Guinness World Records announced that they partnered with Twin Galaxies. For those that did not see the documentary could you educate us on what happened?
Until 1983, Guinness World Records would not recognize video game scores as world records except one; Todd Rogers Dragster's record in late 1982. That's because they were unable to create rules and properly verify achievements that could be considered bonafied world records. However, Twin Galaxies was recognized in 1983 as the only official supplier of verified video game world records, based on our expertise and reputation as the official scorekeeper for the worldwide video game industry. Twin Galaxies conducted special contests in 1983-1986 to generate verified world record scores for the pages of the annual Guinness World Records book. Starting in 2004, this relationship was renewed between GWR and Twin Galaxies. From then on, we've has been the official supplier of verified world records with thousands of game titles across dozens of gaming platforms all around the world.
Of recent you've been working on a project to produce trading cards for gamers. What is the purpose and your goal for these trading cards?
The Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Cards have been created to honor the history of the worldwide video game industry, documenting not only important milestones in video game history, but also honoring world record holders, iconic industry pioneers, noted video game personalities, contest winners, legendary events and the thousands of individuals and companies who, through their creative contributions, have given shape to today’s worldwide video game culture.
In the Disney Film Wreck it Ralph, the character Mr. Litwak was featured as a nod to you in the end credits. What was your first reaction to Disney’s homage to you ?
I was very surprised and very humbled by the kind respect they extended towards me. I am aware that it is not often that someone has a Disney cartoon character based on their persona. I am speechless. But, I also am aware of the fact that the prestige that Twin Galaxies now owns is not because of my sole efforts, but is the born of the efforts of thousands of gamers and referees over the last 32 years. So, the credit for Mr. Litwak's existence has to be shared with many people.