Twin Galaxies

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Twin Galaxies is an American organization that tracks video game world records and conducts a program of electronic-gaming promotions. It operates the Twin Galaxies website and publishes the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, with the Arcade Volume released on June 2, 2007. The Guinness World Records - Gamers Edition 2008 was released in March, 2008 in conjunction with Twin Galaxies, who Guinness World Records considers to be the official supplier of verified world records to the annual volume.[1]

For a time in late 2013, after more than 30 years as the preeminent record-keeper of video game world records, Twin Galaxies appeared to be defunct with the website (including the record high score database) being inaccessible. This ended in March 2014 when Jace Hall announced himself the new owner of Twin Galaxies and would take on the title of "Head Custodian and Caretaker".[2] On March 29, 2014, the Twin Galaxies website showed only a letter stating an intent to reopen and acknowledging the change in ownership. On April 28, 2014, the full Twin Galaxies website, including the high score database and forum content, came back online.


During the summer of 1981, Walter Day, founder of Twin Galaxies incorporated , visited more than 100 video game arcades over four months, recording the high scores that he found on each game. On November 10, he opened his own arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, naming it Twin Galaxies. On February 9, 1982, his database of records was released publicly as the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard.

Twin Galaxies became known as the official scoreboard, arranging contests between top players. Twin Galaxies' first event attracted international media attention for gathering the first teams of video-game stars. Top players in North Carolina and California were formed into state teams that faced off in a "California Challenges North Carolina All-Star Playoff", playing on 17 different games in Lakewood, California, and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. California defeated North Carolina 10–7 over the weekend of August 27–30, 1982.[3]

Similar competitions were also conducted during the summers of 1983 and 1984 when Day organized the players in many U.S. states to form teams and compete in high score contests for the Guinness Book of World Records. The states included California, North Carolina, Washington, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Alaska, Iowa and Kansas.

On November 30, 1982, Ottumwa mayor Jerry Parker declared the town "Video Game Capital of the World", a claim that was backed up by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Atari and the Amusement Game Manufacturers Association in a ceremony at Twin Galaxies on March 19, 1983.[4][5][6]

Twin Galaxies' status as the official scorekeeper was further enhanced by support from the major video-game publications of the early 1980s. Beginning in the summer of 1982, Video Games magazine and Joystik magazine published full-page high-score charts taken from Twin Galaxies' data. These high-score tables were published during the entire lives of these magazines. Additional high-score charts also appeared in Videogiochi (Milan, Italy), Computer Games, Video Game Player magazine and Electronic Fun magazine. Twin Galaxies' high-score charts also appeared in USA Today (April 22, 1983), Games magazine and was distributed sporadically in 1982 and 1983 by the Knight-Ridder news service as an occasional news feature, originating from the Charlotte Observer.[7][8][9]

Twin Galaxies brought top players together on November 7, 1982, to be photographed by Life magazine. This photo session is the subject of a recent documentary film, Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade, which was screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. On January 8–9, 1983, Twin Galaxies organized the first significant video-game championship, to crown a world champion. This event was filmed in Ottumwa by ABC-TV's That's Incredible! and was aired on the night of February 21, 1983.[10]

In March 1983, Twin Galaxies was contracted by the Electronic Circus to assemble a professional troupe of video game superstars who would travel with the Circus as an "act." With Walter Day hired as the "Circus Ringmaster", Twin Galaxies supplied a squad of 15 world-record holders on Twin Galaxies' high-score tables. Though the Circus was scheduled to visit 40 cities in North America, its Boston inaugural performance, opening in the Bayside Exposition Ctr. on July 15, 1983, lasted only five days, closing on July 19. The players selected by Twin Galaxies for the Circus are believed to be history's first professionally contracted video game players.[11]

On July 25, 1983, Twin Galaxies established the professional U.S. National Video Game Team, the first such, with Walter Day as team captain. The USNVGT toured the United States during the summer of 1983 in a 44-foot GMC bus filled with arcade games, appearing at arcades around the nation and conducting the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament, the results of which were published in the 1984 U.S. edition of Guinness World Records. Under the direction of Day, functioning as an assistant editor for the Guinness Book in charge of video-game scores, the USNVGT gathered annual contest results that were published in the 1984—1986 U.S. editions. In September 1983, the USNVGT visited the Italian and Japanese Embassies in Washington D.C. to issue challenges for an international video game championship. In 1987, the USNVGT toured Europe where it defeated a team of UK video game superstars. Every month between 1991 and 1994, the U.S. publication Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), published a full-page high-score table titled "The U.S. National Video Game Team's International Scoreboard".[12][13][14]

In 1988 the Guinness Book of World records stopped using Twin Galaxies as a source.[15]

On February 8, 1998, Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records (ISBN 978-1-887472-25-8) was published. It is a 984-page book containing scores compiled since 1981. The second edition is planned as a two-volume set, with the first volume containing arcade, MAME, Novelty and pinball scores released on June 1, 2007.

Founder Walter Day left Twin Galaxies in 2010 to pursue a career in music,[16] and since then ownership of Twin Galaxies has changed hands several times.[17] In 2013 Twin Galaxies began charging money for accepting score submissions. There are some claims[18] that this led to a termination of the relationship with Guinness, but other sources[15] state that this relationship was already over in 1988.[19] This practice has since ceased, as the website is no longer reachable.

Impact of high scores on the media[edit]

According to the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, "high-score" attempts enjoyed as much press coverage as any other video-game-related topic reported in the media during the 1982–1985 period. Though the media was often focused on the amazing growth of the video game industry, it was equally as fascinated with the human side of gaming, as typified by the "player vs machine" showdowns that led to new world record high scores set on nearly a daily basis. In fact, Twin Galaxies reports that during that early era it was not unusual for there to be multiple new world records reported in the media on a single day. To illustrate the media's love for the high-score phenomenon, here is a brief sampling of news stories reproduced from the following news resources:


On November 30, 1982, Mayor Jerry Parker declared Ottumwa the "Video Game Capital of the World." This bold initiative resulted in many historic firsts in video game history. Among them:

As further evidence of this unique status, Ottumwa hosted history's first video game world championship, which was filmed by *ABC-TV's "That's Incredible" on the weekend of January 8–9, 1983 and aired the night of February 21, 1983.

Playing a central role in video game history, Ottumwa was the birth site of the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard and the U.S. National Video Game Team, two organizations that still exist today. Among the historic firsts that happened in the Video Game Capital of the World were:

Efforts to establish Ottumwa as the site of the Official Video Game Museum[edit]

On April 6, 2009, Owen Good, of Kotaku.Com, penned a major article titled: "A Claim to Fame in the Dodge City of Video Games."[20] In this story, he examines Ottumwa's prospects as potentially the "Cooperstown, NY" of the video game industry. On Facebook, a group of Ottumwa citizens have started a campaign to bring recognition to Ottumwa, promoting the idea of a video game museum.[21] On April 29, 2009 Ottumwa announced that it has reclaimed the title Video Game Capital of the World. Subsequent news stories reporting this event appeared in the Des Moines Register and Ottumwa Courier on April 30, 2009.[22][23] With Walter Day, Billy Mitchell and Steve Sanders in attendance, the Ottumwa government announced plans to develop a Video Game Hall of Fame and Museum and, on May 5, 2009, a Committee was formed with Chris Hoeksema as the Chairman, Danny Anderson as the Vice-Chairman and Elizabeth Bolinger as the Secretary. Mr. Hoeksema was also the founder of the Facebook group. On May 8, 2009, Anderson resigned as Vice-Chairman and was replaced by Josh Gettings, an Ottumwa merchant. At the May 12 meeting, Chris Hoeksema resigned and Terry Mcnitt replaced him as Co-Chairman with Josh Gettings. Josh Bolinger was chosen as Treasurer of the committee and was later chosen as Curator for the IVGHoF. Earlier, at the May 5th meeting, Joshua Gettings distinguished himself by choosing the official name for the proposed facility: International Video Game Hall of Fame.[24]

U.S. National Video Game Team[edit]

The U.S. National Video Game Team was founded on July 25, 1983 in Ottumwa, Iowa by Walter Day and the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard. Walter Day was the Team Captain and the first six members chosen by Twin Galaxies for the team were:

  • Billy Mitchell, Hollywood, Florida (Had five listings in Guinness that year, a record)
  • Steve Harris, Gladstone, Missouri (Later founded Electronic Gaming Monthly - EGM)
  • Jay Kim, Miami, Florida
  • Ben Gold, Dallas, Texas (Won history's first Video Game World Championship, televised by ABC-TV's That's Incredible)
  • Tim McVey, Ottumwa, Iowa (Achieved history's first Billion-Point-Score on a video game.)

Additional members accepted in 1983:

  • Tom Asaki, Bozeman, MT
  • Tim Collum, Boyd, TX
  • Eric Ginner, Mt. View, CA
  • Todd Walker, Milpitas, CA
  • Mark Bersabe, San Jose, CA
  • Jeff Peters, Etiwanda, California

Additional members accepted in 1984:

  • Mark Hoff, Ottumwa, IA
  • Leo Daniels, Wilmington, NC
  • Chris Emery, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Additional members accepted in 1985:

  • Perry Rodgers, Seattle, Washington
  • Donn Nauert, Austin, Texas
  • Dwayne Richard, Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada

Additional members accepted in 1986:

  • Gary Hatt, Ontario, California
  • Jim Allee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Brent Walker, Austin, TX
  • Todd Rogers, Bridgeview, Illinois (First paid pro video game player)
  • Eric Gater, Oskaloosa, IA

Chronological timeline[edit]

Video Game Film Festival[edit]

Twin Galaxies organized the first Video Game Film Festival on June 2, 2001, at the Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire as a vehicle to document the cultural impact that video games have exerted on today's society. A second festival is planned but no date has been set.[25][26]

Console Video Game World Championships[edit]

Twin Galaxies conducted the first Console Video Game World Championship during Twin Galaxies' 1st Annual Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festival at the Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota, on the weekend of July 20–22, 2001. This event is also known as the Console Game World Championship and had originally been planned for March 24–25, 2001 at the Sheraton Dallas Brookhollow Hotel in Dallas, Texas, but was moved forward to the Mall of America event.

The second Console Video Game World Championship was held the weekend of July 12–14, 2002, at the 2nd Annual Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festival at the Mall of America.[27][28][29][30][31]

Classic Video Game World Championship[edit]

Twin Galaxies conducted the first "Classic Video Game World Championship" on June 2–4, 2001 at the Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire. The winner of this renewed video game contest was Dwayne Richard with Donald Hayes coming in second place. This event was descended from the Coronation Day Championships that were conducted by Twin Galaxies in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1986 and 2000. The 2nd "Classic Video Game World Championship" was conducted on the weekend of June 30–July 2, 2002. The winner was Dwayne Richard with Donald Hayes again coming in second place. This was the last year the contest was in this format. The following years had the Funspot location organizing and running the contest in a more informal arcade "Player of the Year," format.[32][33]

In July 2001 and 2002, Twin Galaxies conducted the annual Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festivals at the Mall of America, attracting approximately 50,000–75,000 attendees each year.[34]

On August 15, 2005, Walter Day and the staff of Twin Galaxies led a contingent of USA and UK video game players to Paris, France, where they delivered an eight-foot (2.4 meter) tall Proclamation which proposed a "London vs. Paris" Video Game Championship.

On September 24, 2005, The U.S. National Video Game Team revived and formed a New England Chapter with Walter Day as the national team captain and David Nelson of Derry, New Hampshire, as the chapter captain.

Iron Man Contest[edit]

In the first week of July, 1985, Twin Galaxies conducted the 1st Twin Galaxies Iron Man Contest. The goal of the Iron Man competition was simple: competitors had to continue playing their game for as long as they could. If anyone passed 100 hours, they would be awarded a $10,000 prize from the Sports Achievement Association.

The first contestant to fall was Dwayne Richard; after an hour at the Robotron machine and a score of 3,352,150 he walked away saying no way can a guy play Robotron for a hundred hours. Originally the game he chose to marathon was Armor Attack. However, Johnny Zee was not able to get it for the contest so Dwayne was forced to pick another game. Richard gave up because of the difficulty to marathon Robotron for such an extended amount of time. The next person to resign from the contest was a Japanese tourist visiting Victoria, BC, who resigned after seven hours. The gaming continued unbroken until the 24-hour barrier, at which point Tom Asaki lost his Nibbler game due to a glitch[citation needed] in the game. Each extra life accumulated would add one to the Extra Lives data (stored as a single byte). Reaching 128 Extra Lives, however, caused a problem; it was erroneously interpreted as a "negative one" by the game's firmware (the game's designer had not anticipated anyone achieving this many Extra Lives) and the game ended abruptly. Asaki did not even know of this bug until warned by Billy Mitchell that he was accumulating lives too fast. Tom's game ended with a score of 300 million points.

Mitchell himself was the next to go, after 39 hours. The trackball broke down due to the body oils from his hands. By the time the machine could be repaired, Mitchell was already in a deep sleep, effectively eliminating him from the competition. His game ended with 10,774,191 points.

Mark Bersabe lost his final man on Asteroids after 45 hours, with a score of 18,552,590 points (far from Scott Safran's record of 41,336,440 points). Jeff Peters, who played Q*Bert while sitting in a recliner (with the control panel in his lap) lasted until the fifty-hour mark until collapsing from exhaustion, with 19,498,150 points.

The winner of the contest was 18-year-old James Vollandt, who carried his Joust game for 67½ hours. The game malfunctioned at around 58 hours, wiping out all of his 210 extra lives. However, he earned back forty of them. He left the game voluntarily with a record-breaking score of 107,216,700 points, a record that stood until 2010, when John McAllister broke the record over live streaming video on[35]


In 2007, a film about Twin Galaxies and video game champions in the 1980s, Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a feature documentary about retro arcade gamers, featuring Twin Galaxies, was released in theaters on August 24, 2007. The documentary was in large measure critical of Twin Galaxies' handling of challenges to long-established top scores, suggesting that its organizational structure is rife with conflicts of interest.

Frag, a feature documentary about modern professional gamers, was released on DVD on August 1, 2008 by Cohesion Productions[36] of Cedar Falls, Iowa. The first ten minutes of the documentary recapped Twin Galaxies' role as the pioneers of organized video game playing back in the early 1980s.

Twin Galaxies' Gallery of Posters[edit]

Since August 1, 1982, Twin Galaxies has been producing unique, colorful posters to document gaming events.[37] Though the first dozen posters issued in the early 1980s enjoyed printing runs of 500 – 1,000 copies each, the posters created in recent years have been issued as limited editions with only 20-24 copies produced of each one. And, to create value for each one, the latest posters would have individual registration numbers published on the front of each poster (i.e. 1 of 20, 2 of 20, 3 of 20 and so forth). These posters have been issued as free gifts for players who have achieved noteworthy accomplishments or as prizes for contest participants.

The Twin Galaxies posters have attracted media attention in the past few years. For instance, posters #73, #90 and #91 were reproduced in the pages of the Guinness World Records - Gamer's Edition 2008, a high-score compendium issued on March 8, 2008 by Guinness World Records. And, posters #50, #62, #63 and #69 were included in a 3-page story on Twin Galaxies titled "Setting the Record Straight," published in the April, 2006 edition of Game Informer Magazine.

Plus, Joypad Magazine (Paris, France) published posters #4, #7, and #40 in its January, 2003 edition. Recently, Game Room Magazine ( featured a Twin Galaxies poster in each of these monthly editions: March, 2008 (Poster #106), April, 2008 (Poster #108), May, 2008 (Poster #112), July, 2008 (Poster #114), August, 2008 (Poster #107), September, 2008 (Poster #118) and November, 2008 (Poster #129).

As collectibles, the poster series has gained a small following with posters occasionally selling for $20 each while at least one copy of poster #1 has sold for $100. Many of the posters published in 2005 and 2006 were commissioned by Billy Mitchell, the noted Pac-Man champion, who wanted to create a series of collectibles to commemorate video game history.

Chronology of selected Twin Galaxies contests and events[edit]

Date Title Venue Location
April 3–4, 1982 National Defender Championship 33 Arcades across America Nationwide
August 27–30, 1982 California Challenges North Carolina Light Years Amusement/Phil's Family Fun Ctr. Wrightsville Beach, NC/Lakewood, CA
January 8–9, 1983 North America Video Game Olympics Twin Galaxies/"ABC-TV's "That's Incredible" Ottumwa, IA
August 24–28, 1983 1983 North American Video Game Challenge 8 Cities Across America Lake Odessa, MI/Omaha, NE/Chicago, IL/San Jose, CA/Seattle, WA
January 14, 1984 1984 Coronation Day Championship Twin Galaxies Ottumwa, IA
January 12–13, 1985 1985 Coronation Day Championship Captain Video Los Angeles, CA
April 19–20, 1997 1997 Video Game & Pinball Masters Tournament 12 Cities Fairfield, IA/Wilmington, NC/Edmonton, AB, Canada/Voorhees, NJ/St. Louis, MO/Kansas City, MO
June 27, 1998 Crowning the Superstars of Mobile, Alabama Cyberstation Arcade, Springdale Mall Mobile, AL
August 22, 1998 Crowning the Videogame Superstars of Tulsa, Oklahoma Funhouse Tulsa, OK
August 29, 1998 Crowning the Videogame Superstars of St. Louis, MO Exhilirama Arcade St. Louis, MO
August 29, 1998 Crowning the Videogame Superstars of Hattiesburg, Mississippi Cyberstation Arcade Hattiesburg, MS
January 30–31, 1999 Chicagoland Arcade Championship Friar Tuck's Arcade Calumet City, IL
July 10, 1999 National Family Fun Day 28 States Across America Nationwide
July 29–30, 2000 Classic Gaming Expo 2000 Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas, NV
September 25 - October 20, 2000 Unreal Tournament Championship Online Competition International
Nov. 20 - Dec. 20, 2000 Official Tony Hawk Pro 2 World Championship Home-Based Submissions International
January 1 - March 7, 2001 Space Empires IV World Championship Online Submissions International
May 3 - July 2, 2001 Crazy Taxi World Championship Home-Based Submissions International
July 20–22, 2001 1st Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festival Mall of America Bloomington, MN
May 18, 2002 Save the Pak Mann Arcade Pak Mann Arcade Pasadena, CA
May 30 - June 2, 2002 2nd Classic Video Game World Championship Funspot Family Fun Center Weirs Beach, NH
July 12–14, 2002 2nd Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festival Mall of America Bloomington, MN
November 12–19, 2005 November Hi-Score Jamboree at Funspot Funspot Family Fun Center Weirs Beach, NH
December 2–4, 2005 Legends of the Golden Age Totally Amused Humble, TX
April 6–9, 2006 Toughest Gun in the Dodge City Apollo Amusements Pompano Beach, FL
April 28–30, 2006 2006 Video Game & Pinball Masters Tournament Pinball Hall of Fame Las Vegas, NV
September 16, 2006 Grand Rapids Nintendo DS Championship Ultimate LAN Experience Grand Rapids, MI
November 10–18, 2007 5 November Hi-Score Jamboree at Funspot Funspot Family Fun Center Weirs Beach, NH
March 5, 2008 Steve Wiebe Attempts Donkey Kong World Record MIX08 Event Las Vegas, NV
July 17, 2008 Steve Wiebe Donkey Kong Record Attempt Twiistup 4 Technology event Santa Monica, CA
August 2, 2008 Nintendo Wii Shootout Ultimate LAN Experience Grand Rapids, MI
June 12–14, 2009 Steve Wiebe Donkey Kong World Record attempt and Walter Day presented inaugural Twin Galaxies Hall of Fame Ceremony Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show Seattle, WA

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Twin Galaxies is the official supplier of video game scores to the Guinness World Records books -
  2. ^ Kyle Hilliard (2014-03-30). "Video Game Record Curator Twin Galaxies Comes Under New Management". Game Informer. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  3. ^ California Tops Carolina in Video Challenge - RePlay Magazine, October, 1982
  4. ^ What is the Video Game Capital of the World? - Cashbox Magazine, April 2, 1983
  5. ^ The King of the Video Game Addicts - Toronto Sunday Star, March 27, 1983
  6. ^ Video Game Capital Lies Amid Iowa Cornfields - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 9, 1983
  7. ^ Seek Individual Excellence - Associated Press Wire Story in Miami Herald, August 21, 1982
  8. ^ Records, like promises, are not always meant to be broken - USA Today, July 7, 1983
  9. ^ Video Game Records - USA Today, April 22, 1983
  10. ^ Twin Galaxies' Coronation Day Crowns Video's Best of '83 - RePlay Magazine, February 1, 1984
  11. ^ Video Hall of Fame - Blip Magazine, February 1, 1983
  12. ^ U.S. Video Team Holds Tourney - CashBox Magazine, October 22, 1983
  13. ^ U.S. vs. Japan Video Tournament? - CashBox Magazine, August 27, 1983
  14. ^ They're Masters of Video Games - Spokesman-Review, Spokane, WA, August 24, 1983
  15. ^ a b "Guiness to Release Book of Game Records". Sidney Morning Herald. Feb 7, 2008. Retrieved Oct 26, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Walter Day leaves Twin Galaxies". Eurogamer. August 3, 2010. Retrieved Oct 25, 2014. 
  17. ^ "Twin Galaxies Sold to New Ownership?". Oct 4, 2012. Retrieved Oct 25, 2014. 
  18. ^ "Guinness won't accept Twin Galaxies scores anymore". Aug 14, 2013. Retrieved Oct 25, 2014. 
  19. ^ "Twin Galaxies starts charging for score submissions". BitGamer. April 22, 2013. Retrieved Oct 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ A Claim to Fame in the Dodge City of Video Games - Kotaku.Com, April 6, 2009
  21. ^ Bring Twin Galaxies and Ottumwa the credit it deserves - Facebook Group, April 6, 2009
  22. ^ Ottumwa declares itself 'Video Game Capital of the World' - Des Moines Register, April 30, 2009[dead link]
  23. ^ Could Ottumwa be home to video game hall of fame? - Ottumwa Courier, April 30, 2009
  24. ^ Bring Twin Galaxies and Ottumwa the credit it deserves - Facebook, Retrieved May 1, 2009
  25. ^ "History's First Video Game Film Festival To Celebrate Gaming's Impact on Media and Culture", May 18, 2001
  26. ^ "Twin Galaxies Planning 2nd Video Game Film Festival", May 15, 2006
  27. ^, January 21, 2001
  28. ^, February 16, 2001
  29. ^, February 16, 2001
  30. ^ Video Game Festival at Mall of America, July 1, 2001
  31. ^, November 11, 2002
  32. ^ Classic Video Game World Championship Set for New Hampshire May 8, 2001
  33. ^ Classic Video Game World Championship Attracts the World's Best, May 26, 2002
  34. ^ Festival Marries Classics with CounterStrike, RePlay Magazine, Woodland Hills, CA, September 1, 2001
  35. ^ Good, Owen. "New World Record In Joust Awaiting Certification". Kotaku. 
  36. ^ Cohesion Productions Releases FRAG -
  37. ^ Twin Galaxies' Gallery of Posters, 1982-2008