When it comes to video games, there is something Zen-like about watching another player go through the motions of slaying monsters or discovering another world, their victories and conquests offering you a vicarious thrill. Two weeks ago at the Denver Comic Con, I had to chance to watch Steve Wiebe try to obtain the infamous killscreen on his machine of choice, Donkey Kong. It was like watching Picasso paint, or so I assume.
The 2007 documentary 'The King of Kong' chronicled Wiebe, a high school teacher from the Pacific Northwest, as he honed his savant-like talent for the game of Donkey Kong in an effort to break the world record set by the gaming Goliath Billy Mitchell. It was a classic underdog tale that made both Wiebe and Mitchell pop culture icons. However, due to the complications of determining an official score, one that ended without a crystal-clear resolution. The documentary’s conclusion was that the only scores that really counted were those performed live, at an official gaming event, on a regulated machine.
I had the chance to speak with possibly one of the most influential figures in all of video gaming lore while I was in Denver, Walter Day. Back in 1981, Mr Day founded Twin Galaxies, which would go on to become the official adjudicating organization to track records in arcade games as well as pinball.
Would you consider yourself an iconic video game referee?
Or whatever. I’m an iconic whatever.
How long have you been officially refereeing games?
Well, I started this about thirty some years ago. I’m not really much of a referee now. I’m mainly trying to focus on music. But, I’m here at the Denver Comic Con to help promote Twin Galaxies as it launches its new website. It has a new website that’s on a level that’s bigger than ever, more sophisticated than ever. So, they did the major professional official launch at the DCC and I’ve been here kind of like as a guest to promote the whole thing and introduce it to the public.
What’s on the new website…what are the new features?
Well, it’s got a more attractive, more comprehensive, easier to use graphic user interface. It’s going to go and publish our score database, so you can see and search the scoreboard. We have like a hundred thousand scores in there that date back even as far as 1935. Novelty games. So, Twin Galaxies is the custodian of the historical database of organized video game playing and actually pinball playing too for the last forty years or so. It’s a very significant bunch of information that we have decided to be the custodians to safeguard it for posterity.
So where can people check this out at?
Twingalaxies.com and people can come and join as members for free. They can also submit scores so that we would verify them and determine whether or not they are the new world champions on different games. Twin galaxies for years now, has been the scorekeeper for the worldwide video game industry. We create the rules. We enforce the rules. We verify the submitted world records. Then we crown the champions and then we submit it to the Guinness world records.
It is worldwide, right?
Absolutely. We have people from over a hundred different countries in our database.
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