walter_day3.jpg Walter Day has been running Twin Galaxies since mid-1981. On the 9th of February the next year, Day launched the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard – a collection of gaming records gathered by Day from over 100 arcades over a period of 4 months. Twin Galaxies quickly became acknowledged as the world authority on game scores. The next year, on January 9th, in conjunction with ABC-TV, Twin Galaxies held the world’s first videogame championship in Day’s arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa. Following this, he put together, and captained, the US National Video Game Team, who challenged Italy and Japan, and toured Europe.

Day was also contacted by the Guinness Book of World Records to work as assistant-editor of the videogame scores section of the 1984-1986 editions. By 1985, Day and Twin Galaxies had been featured in LIFE magazine, Marvel Comics, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Stern Magazine, the Washington Post and had nearly 100 TV appearances.

In 1998, Twin Galaxies released the first edition of the Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records - a 984 page compilation of 12,416 records dating back to 1981. For their 25th year, they plan to release the second edition, a three-volume set, which will feature console and PC gaming. Twin Galaxies also continues to contribute to the Guinness Book of World Records, with 68 records in the book’s new videogame section.

GameSetWatch spoke to Walter Day via email about the history of Twin Galaxies, and what it represents now.

How did you become interested in videogames?

I was an oil broker in 1980 and I began work on a book called Day’s Who’s Who in the Petroleum Industry. After some weeks working on biographies, my partner said: “I can't work anymore on this stuff, I have to go play Space Invaders.”
So, of course, I had no idea what Space Invaders was so he took me along to a major arcade in Houston, TX, where I became addicted to Space Invaders. Then, I became addicted to Pac-Man and then Centipede. Today, I don’t play because Twin Galaxies takes up all my time.

What are your favourite games?

The three mentioned above plus Galaxian, Make Trax, Crazy Taxi and Tutankham.

Have you ever been tempted to try for a record of your own?

I once held the world record on Make Trax, back in 1982.

Your site says of the scoreboards beginnings that "Day's real passion was to visit as many video game arcades as possible and record the high scores he found on each game" - what started your passion for recording game scores?

I was fascinated with the pursuit of excellence, as manifested in the video game player. I wanted to excel. So, to do this, I sought out the best of the best players to learn their tricks. This was the birth of the scoreboard.

What was it like to be recognised as the worldwide "official" record keepers of scores back in the early days, and how does it feel for that to have continued?

It was overwhelming in the beginning because I would be interviewed everyday from some city around the world. Everybody was going for records back then. It was a very big deal. Now, it’s more quiet and easier to handle. But still very popular.

Are there any records that stand out as particularly impressive for you?

Nobody will ever beat the records on the classic Pole Position [67,310 posted by Les Lagier on the 11th of June, 2004] or Crystal Castles [910,722 posted by Frank Seay on the same date]; they may actually be maxed out.

How were the early days of Twin Galaxies different to now?

I can breathe now, not as much pressure.

Do you feel like you played a part in bringing gaming into the professional arena?

The entire Twin Galaxies family of players and referees are responsible for planting a seed that is now coming to fruition everywhere. Many leagues, many contests, many champions – they all had their spiritual roots in what Twin Galaxies started 25 years ago.

How do you feel about gaming these days, as opposed to when you began?

It’s getting exciting. There wasn’t money available back then. The modern prize structure is making the activity become a legitimate sport.

How do you feel about emulator, or tool assisted, speedruns?

Emulators are fine. They are not mixed with original game systems, however: treated as separate. Speed-runs have breathed life back into games that had faded from the public eye.

Where do you see professional gaming going in the next five years?

Many, many leagues. Many, many contests. And a return to high-score based games in a big way.

Finally, what can we expect from the new edition of Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records?

The book is so big that it is splitting into 3 companion volumes, each being 740-pages in length. The volumes are:

1. Arcade
2. Console
3. PC-Gaming