Walter Day at Worldcon in Helsinki 2017
Walter Aldro Day, Jr.
May 14, 1949
Oakland, California, U.S.
|Education||Salem State College (left before graduating)|
|Occupation||Video game referee and scorekeeper|
|Known for||Twin Galaxies|
|Home town||Fairfield, Iowa|
Walter Aldro Day, Jr. (born May 14, 1949) is an American businessman, historian, and the founder of Twin Galaxies, an American organization that tracks video game world records and conducts a program of electronic-gaming promotions. Day is an authority on video game scorekeeping records,who in 2010 retired from the industry to pursue a career in music.
Day was born in Oakland, California, on May 14, 1949.His father worked for the Federal government of the United States as a purchaser of jet engines. Day enrolled at Salem State College in 1967 and left the school in 1978 without obtaining a degree. He later moved to the city of Boston and pursued the practice of Transcendental Meditation.
Day has had several professions and hobbies during his life, including being an oil trader, landlord, vintage-newspaper vendor, musician and video arcade owner.
After moving to the town of Fairfield, Iowa, Day sold commemorative newspapers for a living and in 1980 went to Houston, Texas, to become an oil futures trader.Discouraged, Day moved back to Fairfield and became a landlord and purchased the Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1981. After reading the January 18, 1982 issue of Time , which featured video games on its cover, Day was inspired to create an international scoreboard database. According to Day's company web site, within six months he was receiving 50 to 75 phone calls per day from video game players around the world wanting to report their high scores. Later, Day became "known as the king of video game stats" and his scoreboard was published in Joystik and Video Games magazine every month.
Beginning in the summer of 1983, Walter Day became the official supplier of verified video game scores to Guinness World Records. It was the first time that Guinness World Records had ever recognized video games as a valid category, citing the problems faced with the different versions of the games, myriad bugs, and the inability to verify video game claims through the mail. Walter Day's organization Twin Galaxies was able to provide Guinness World Records with verified scores that were adjudicated in person during a series of annual contests held each summer during 1983-1985. David Boehm, then-publisher of Guinness World Records, named Day the Guinness ‘Assistant-Editor’ in charge of video game scores and records. The verified world records appeared in the 1984 to 1986 editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. Day closed his Ottumwa arcade in 1984 but continued his international score keeping activities through his company Twin Galaxies. Day represented Guinness World Records on July 2, 1985, in Victoria BC, Canada, when Mark Sutton was proclaimed the new world record pole-sitter after a successful 488-day stint perched atop a pole.
Day also verified competitive foosball records and conducted in 1985 the Twin Galaxies Iron Man Contest which saw 10 competitors attempt to keep a single game going for 100 hours on one quarter in hopes of winning $10,000.
In November 2004, Day joined forces with Guinness World Records science & technology editor David Hawksett at Sweden's Dreamhack 2004 LAN event to verify a new world record on the largest number of separate computers connected in a single LAN network.
In 2008, Day's long-time work as a video game adjudicator and eSports pioneer inspired the creation of the Guinness World Records - Gamer's Edition.
On August 11, 2017, in Helsinki, Finland, Day took the stage during the science fiction Hugo Awards ceremonies to present a Guinness World Records citation that recognized the Hugo Awards as history's longest-running science fiction award. This same presentation was repeated the following year as Day presented this same award again on August 16, 2018, during the 2018 Hugo Awards festivities in San Jose, California.
On October 14, 2017, Day presented a Guinness World Records citation to the Pinball Expo in Chicago, Illinois, recognizing the Pinball Expo, which was founded in 1985, as history's longest-running pinball event.
Appearing in approximately 20 documentary films as himself, Day’s role as the first eSports pioneer has been thoroughly examined on the big screen. His historical projects using vintage newspapers, high school yearbooks, antique business cards and commemorative trading cards have also appeared on the silver screen as well as in more than 100 TV news broadcasts. A partial list of his appearances in documentary films includes: Icons (2002), Coin-Op TV (2007), Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007), The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007), Frag (2008), The Video Craze (2013), Gamer Age (2014), The King of Arcades (2015), Nintendo Quest (2015) and Man vs Snake (2015). He has also appeared on national TV shows like The Bob Braun Show (1982), ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible (1983), Entertainment Tonight (1985), PM Magazine (1987), CBS This Morning (1988), and Gary Collins’ Hour Magazine (1989).Documentary footage of Walter Day’s early video game career filmed by Lewis Wilson and John Sorflaten in 1982 and 1983 is considered the earliest known attempt to film a documentary on the burgeoning video game culture. That vintage footage was the original source material used widely throughout both Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade and The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Between 1973 and the early 1980s, Day enjoyed a brief career as an amateur ragtime pianist, publicly performing in Massachusetts (Beverly and Salem), New York State (Livingstone Manor and South Fallsburg), France (Avoriaz and Le Plagne), Switzerland (Brunnen, Leysin, St. Moritz and Arosa) and Fairfield, Iowa. He was self-taught and mastered the form by memorizing the songs, a feat that often took 8 hours of practice per day. His three most prominent performances were at Salem State College Music Festival, Salem, MA, October 22, 1975, the inaugural Spring Celebration, held on the MIU Campus (now MUM) in the new Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, March, 1980, and the ‘Legendary Walter Day Plays Ragtime’ concert at the Barhydt Chapel, MUM Campus, Fairfield, Iowa, April 13, 1980.
In 1997, Day authored a 984-page volume of video game record scores and created a team of volunteers to verify scores nationwide. Day and his staff created the first book of rules for competitive electronic gaming, and his company Twin Galaxies produced an annual 1,000-page book of records and rules. A second edition, of 1000 pages was published in 2007.The publication has become the "official record book for the worldwide electronic gaming industry". Day appeared at "hundreds" of video game gatherings and competitions wearing a black-and-white-striped referee shirt and became an "iconic" figure in video game record keeping.
In August, 2005, Day led a contingent of video game players to France to issue a formal video game challenge involving video game players in both London and Paris. Day was featured in a three-part documentary filmed by VBS.tv and published on the Internet in 2009, under the title Walter Day: Twin Galaxies and the Two Golden Domes. Day's contributions to the video game industry were portrayed in the 2007 documentaries The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters and Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade .
Day retired from the video game industry in May 2010 to pursue a career in music.Since then Day has helped to establish the International Video Game Hall of Fame in Ottumwa and attended the video game art exhibition at the Smithsonian art museum.
Day is widely recognized as the inspiration for Mr. Litwak, the beloved arcade owner in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph animated film released in November 2012.
Ready Player One author Ernest Cline says Walter Day (along with Twin Galaxies and Billy Mitchell) were the inspiration for writing his story in 2011, which was later turned into a Steven Spielberg science fiction film in 2018.
An amusement arcade is a venue where people play arcade games such as video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, merchandisers, or coin-operated billiards or air hockey tables. In some countries, some types of arcades are also legally permitted to provide gambling machines such as slot machines or pachinko machines. Games are usually housed in cabinets. The term used for ancestors of these venues in the beginning of the 20th century was penny arcades.
Tapper, also known as Root Beer Tapper, is a 1983 arcade game developed by Marvin Glass and Associates and released by Bally Midway. Tapper puts the player in the shoes of a bartender who must serve eager, thirsty patrons while collecting empty mugs and tips.
Track & Field, known in Japan and Europe as Hyper Olympic, is an Olympic-themed sports arcade game developed by Konami and released in 1983. The Japanese release sported an official license for the 1984 Summer Olympics. Players compete in a series of events, most involving alternately pressing two buttons as quickly as possible to make the onscreen character run faster. It was followed by a sequel, Hyper Sports.
Twin Galaxies is an organization and social media platform that facilitates interaction, achievement, recognition, and competition between people involved in the culture and activity of playing video games. Guinness World Records considers Twin Galaxies to be an official supplier of verified world records.
In games, score refers to an abstract quantity associated with a player or team. Score is usually measured in the abstract unit of points, and events in the game can raise or lower the score of different parties. Most games with score use it as a quantitative indicator of success in the game, and in competitive games, a goal is often made of attaining a better score than one's opponents in order to win.
Nibbler is an arcade snake game released in 1982 by Chicago-based developer Rock-Ola. The player navigates a snake through an enclosed maze, consuming objects, and the length of the snake increases with each object consumed. The game was the first to include nine scoring digits, allowing players to surpass one billion points. Home versions were published in 1983 by Datasoft for the Atari 8-bit family and the Apple II.
The U.S. National Video Game Team (USNVGT) was founded in July, 1983 in Ottumwa, Iowa, United States by Walter Day and Jim Riley as part of the Electronic Circus tour, with Steve Sanders as the first captain. After the Circus folded, Day re-established the team with himself as the captain, taking the team on a bus tour. The team challenged the players of arcades across the country and attempted to challenge other countries through visits to foreign embassies. In the years that followed the team ran numerous competitive contests.
Scott Safran was an American video gamer noted for setting the world record score, which stood for 27 years, on the arcade game Asteroids.
The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters is a 2007 American documentary film about competitive arcade gaming directed by Seth Gordon. It follows Steve Wiebe in his attempts to take the high score record for the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong from Billy Mitchell. The film premiered at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival and was released in U.S. theaters in August 2007. It received positive reviews.
Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade is a documentary film directed by Lincoln Ruchti about the golden age of video arcade games. The film premiered January 22, 2007 at the Sundance Film Festival and has also been shown at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival, as well as other film festivals.
Steven J. Wiebe is an American two-time world champion of the video game Donkey Kong, most recently holding the title from September 20, 2010, to January 10, 2011, with a high score of 1,064,500. Wiebe was the first person to achieve over a million points in a public game, with 1,006,600 on July 4, 2004. He is one of the primary subjects of the 2007 documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. Like his Donkey Kong rival Billy Mitchell, Wiebe was put in a Topps Allen & Ginter baseball set, which is featured in the 2009 edition of the baseball product.
Doris Self was a video game competitor who gained recognition in the 1980s as "the world's oldest video game champion". In the 2007 Guinness World Records, Self was recognized as the world's oldest video game competitor. The documentary film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters detailed Self's quest to recover her standing as the "oldest champion" from John Lawton, the 72-year-old co-founder of the Funspot Family Fun Center in Weirs Beach, New Hampshire, who had captured the world title on Depthcharge.
Todd Rogers is an American video game player. In the 1980s, he claimed to have achieved many record-setting high scores and was the first professional video game player. In 1986, he was invited to be part of the U.S. National Video Game Team. However, many of his records have since been found to be impossible or unverifiable. In January 2018, Twin Galaxies removed all of his scores from their leaderboards and banned him permanently, and Guinness World Records stripped his records the following day.
David Nelson is an American arcade video game player who holds world record high scores listed in the 2008 Guinness World Records-Gamer's Edition.
William James Mitchell Jr. is an American video game player and restaurateur. He rose to national prominence in the 1980s when Life included him in a photo spread of game champions during the height of the golden age of arcade games.
The Video Game Masters Tournament was an event that was created in 1983 by Twin Galaxies to generate world record high scores for the 1984 U.S. Edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. It was the most prestigious contest of that era and the only one that the Guinness book looked to for verified world records on video games at the time. This contest was conducted under the joint efforts of Twin Galaxies and the U.S. National Video Game Team in 1983, 1984 and 1985 and by the U.S. National Video Game Team alone in 1986 and 1987.
Dragster, released in 1980 for the Atari 2600, is the first video game developed by Activision. It was programmed by David Crane, who later wrote Pitfall!. The object of the game is to either beat the player's opponent across the screen, or to race against the clock for best time, depending on the settings used. Dragster is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1977 Kee Games coin-op Drag Race.
The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show is an annual pinball and arcade game festival held in Tacoma, Washington, United States.
Man vs Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler is a 2015 documentary film directed by Andrew Seklir and Tim Kinzy. The film premiered on September 27, 2015, at Fantastic Fest Film Festival, followed by a Canadian premiere on April 17, 2016, and a worldwide release on June 24 of the same year. The film follows players as they try to accumulate a billion points on the 1982 arcade game Nibbler, a feat first achieved by Tim McVey in 1984.
Quincy Place Mall is shopping mall located in Ottumwa, Iowa. The mall is owned by Lexington Realty International.