Walter Day

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Walter Day
Walter Day, at the Hugo Award Ceremony at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki.jpg
Walter Day at Worldcon in Helsinki 2017
Walter Aldro Day, Jr.

(1949-05-14) May 14, 1949 (age 70)
Education Salem State College (left before graduating)
OccupationVideo game referee and scorekeeper
Years active1981–2010
2010–present (musician)
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, [1] [2] who in 2010 retired from the industry to pursue a career in music. [3]


Early life

Day was born in Oakland, California, on May 14, 1949. [4] 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. [5]


Day has had several professions and hobbies during his life, including being an oil trader, landlord, vintage-newspaper vendor, musician and video arcade owner. [5]

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. [6] 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. [7]

Involvement with Guinness World Records

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. [8]

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. [9]

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. [10] [11]

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. [7]

Film and TV Career

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). [12] 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. [13] [14] [15]

Amateur Ragtime Piano Career

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. [16] [17] [18]

Other Projects

Day at the reveal of a restored Sky Skipper cabinet in 2017. Billy Mitchell is at the far right. Skyskipperreveal.jpg
Day at the reveal of a restored Sky Skipper cabinet in 2017. Billy Mitchell is at the far right.

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. [19] 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 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. [20] 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. [5]


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. [21]

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  17. "The Walter Day Collection - April 10, 1980 Fairfield Ledger, Fairfield, Iowa". The Walter Day Collection. Retrieved 2018-05-04.[ permanent dead link ]
  18. Ottumwa Courier April 9, 1980 [ permanent dead link ]
  19. About TwinGalaxies - Our Unique History
  20. "Walter Day retires from Twin Galaxies, gaming hall of fame to be opened (March, 6th 2010)". By Ben Gilbert of Joystiq . Retrieved May 4, 2013.