Twin Galaxies

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Twin Galaxies
Twin Galaxies Logo.png
Formation November 10, 1981; 35 years ago (1981-11-10)
Founder Walter Day
Founded at Ottumwa, Iowa, U.S.
Purpose Video Game Scorekeeping
Headquarters Banning, California, U.S.
Key people
Jace Hall (Caretaker and Custodian)
Parent organization
Affiliations Guinness World Records

Twin Galaxies is an American organization that tracks "retro" and "old-school" 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 a record-keeper of video game world records, Twin Galaxies appeared to be defunct with the website (including the record high score database) being inaccessible. In March 2014, Jace Hall announced himself as the new owner of Twin Galaxies.[2] 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 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]

Impact of high scores on the media[edit]

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. [20]


On November 30, 1982, Mayor Jerry Parker declared Ottumwa the "Video Game Capital of the World." 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.[21]

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.[22]

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

On April 6, 2009, Owen Good, of Kotaku, penned a major article titled: "A Claim to Fame in the Dodge City of Video Games."[23] In this story, he examines Ottumwa's prospects as potentially the "Cooperstown, NY" of the video game industry. On April 29, 2009 Ottumwa announced that it has reclaimed the title Video Game Capital of the World.[24][25] 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.[26]

Billy Mitchell and Steve Sanders
Walter Day and his Business Partner from the early 1980's
Mark Hoff and Joel West

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]

  • July 25, 1983; The Team founded in Ottumwa, Iowa by the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard with Walter Day as Team Captain.
  • August 11, 1983; Embarked on a national tour to conduct the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament.
  • Cystic Fibrosis Video Game Challenge Week in Ottumwa, August 8, 1983[27]
  • Letter from Michigan House of Representatives. Harold Sawyer to USNVGT, August 16, 1983[28]
  • August 24, 1983; U.S. National Video Game Team inspired Civic Proclamations around the USA.[29]
  • September 15, 1983; Conducted a tour of the East Coast of the United States on behalf of Video Game Player Magazine to verify excessive high-score claims submitted by players.
  • September 24, 1983; Hand-delivered official documents to the Japanese and Italian Embassies in Washington, D.C., challenging these countries to an International Video Championship.[30]
  • November 15, 1983; Ottumwa Proclamation to the People of the Country of Italy, November 15, 1983][31]
  • January 14, 1984; Working with the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard, the USNVGT conducted the 1984 Coronation Day to crown the 1983 players, manufacturers and magazines of the past year.[10]
  • February 12, 1984; The U.S. National Video Game Team attends the February, 1984 AMOA Expo in New Orleans, beginning a long tradition of reviewing new games for the video game industry.[32]
  • February 10-February 12, 1984; Canada-USA Video Game Team Conference is organized by USNVGT.[33]
  • April 12, 1985; The Red Cross Video Game Team Invites President Ronald Reagan to Join The Team[34]
  • April 8, 1986; The U.S. National Video Game Team is authorized by the Guinness Book of World Records to organize contests.[35]
  • April 1, 1987; U.S. National Video Game Team Announces its 1987 "Best Games" at the ACME.[36]
  • April 1, 1987; U.S. National Video Game Team Conducts 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament for Guinness.[37]
  • July 12, 1987; The U.S. National Video Game Team organizes 1987 Video Game Masters Tournament for Guinness Record Book.[38]

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.[39][40]

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.[41][42][43][44][45]

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.[46][47]

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.[48]

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 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[49]


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[50] 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.

Man vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler, a feature documentary about the video game Nibbler, was released worldwide in 2016. The film includes information about the history of Twin Galaxies and the competition for high scores. Walter Day is featured throughout much of the film.

Twin Galaxies' Gallery of Posters[edit]

Since August 1, 1982, Twin Galaxies has been producing unique, colorful posters to document gaming events.[51] 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.

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[52] Home-Based Submissions International
January 1 - March 7, 2001 Space Empires IV World Championship[53] 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[54] Pak Mann Arcade Pasadena, CA
May 30 - June 2, 2002 2nd Classic Video Game World Championship[55] Funspot Family Fun Center Weirs Beach, NH
July 12–14, 2002 2nd Twin Galaxies' Video Game Festival[56] 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[57] Totally Amused Humble, TX
April 6–9, 2006 Toughest Gun in the Dodge City[58] 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[59] Northwest Pinball and Gameroom Show Seattle, WA

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Twin Galaxies is the official supplier of video game scores to the Guinness World Records books - Archived July 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  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. ^ a b 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 "Guinness 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. ^ * Record try aborted in video game - Arizona Republic, March 9, 1982
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ A Claim to Fame in the Dodge City of Video Games - Kotaku.Com, April 6, 2009
  24. ^ Ottumwa declares itself 'Video Game Capital of the World' - Des Moines Register, April 30, 2009[dead link]
  25. ^ Could Ottumwa be home to video game hall of fame? - Ottumwa Courier, April 30, 2009
  26. ^ Bring Twin Galaxies and Ottumwa the credit it deserves - Facebook, Retrieved May 1, 2009
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Proclamation for Cystic Fibrosis Video Game Challenge Week, Lake Odessa, Michigan, August 8, 1983
  30. ^ "Benefit Hones Video Game Skill", Chicago Suburban Tribune, August 24, 1983"U.S. vs. Japan Video Tournament", CashBox Magazine, August 27, 1983 "U.S. Video Team Forming, Plans Call for Match with Japan", RePlay Magazine, October 1, 1983
  31. ^ Ottumwa issues a Proclamation, challenging the Country of Italy on behalf of the U.S. National Video Game Team, November 15, 1983
  32. ^ "U.S. National Video Game Team Rates Games", PlayMeter Magazine, March 1, 1984
  33. ^ Canadian Video Team Being Formed - CashBox Magazine, March 10, 1984U.S. National Video Game Team at 1984 AMOA Expo - Vending Times, December 1, 1984
  34. ^ The U.S. National Video Game Team organizes a fundraiser for the Red Cross and announces plans to create a Red Cross Video Team to take to Washington, DC.
  35. ^ Guinness sends letter to U.S. National Video Game Team, April 8, 1986
  36. ^ U.S. National Video Team Picks its Favorites, Vending Times, New York, NY, April 1, 1987
  37. ^ Video Game Masters Match Will Help March of Dimes, Vending Times, New York, NY, April 1, 1987
  38. ^ Video game champ buys 40 hours of play with 25 cents - Torrance Daily Breeze, Torrance, CA, July 12, 1987
  39. ^ "History's First Video Game Film Festival To Celebrate Gaming's Impact on Media and Culture", May 18, 2001
  40. ^ "Twin Galaxies Planning 2nd Video Game Film Festival", May 15, 2006
  41. ^, January 21, 2001
  42. ^, February 16, 2001
  43. ^, February 16, 2001
  44. ^ Video Game Festival at Mall of America, July 1, 2001
  45. ^, November 11, 2002
  46. ^ Classic Video Game World Championship Set for New Hampshire May 8, 2001
  47. ^ Classic Video Game World Championship Attracts the World's Best, May 26, 2002
  48. ^ Festival Marries Classics with CounterStrike, RePlay Magazine, Woodland Hills, CA, September 1, 2001
  49. ^ Good, Owen. "New World Record In Joust Awaiting Certification". Kotaku. 
  50. ^ Cohesion Productions Releases FRAG -
  51. ^ Twin Galaxies' Gallery of Posters, 1982-2008
  52. ^ "GameRankings - Video Game Reviews from around the Internet". Retrieved 2015-05-03. 
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^ "Video Games, News, Reviews, Walkthroughs, Cheat codes and More - Interact". Retrieved 2015-05-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  57. ^ "Video Games, News, Reviews, Walkthroughs, Cheat codes and More - Interact". Retrieved 2015-05-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  58. ^ "Video Games, News, Reviews, Walkthroughs, Cheat codes and More - Interact". Retrieved 2015-05-03.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  59. ^,1884.msg23119.html#msg23119

External links[edit]