Twin Galaxies International Retro Gaming

So for anybody that does not know what Twin Galaxies is or was. When video game arcades were really popular in the 80’s, Twin Galaxies was an arcade and business owned by Walter Day, and was the leader in making Ottumwa Iowa, the video game capital of the world.

If you have not seen the 2007 documentary, it is on now on Netflix and other streaming movie apps. I highly recommend it if you are into games.

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade Trailer

Billy Mitchell (first Pac-Man perfect score) and Walter Day (official high score historian)

By Twin Galaxies

Twin Galaxies is the officially recognized worldwide authority on all video game scores and world records.  The organization tracks player rankings, gaming statistics, and regulates gaming contests and championship tournaments, with information dating from the 1930s and video game statistics from the early 1970s.  As the electronic gaming industry’s premier statistician, Twin Galaxies preserves the history of gaming in their database, which documents the historical milestones of the electronic gaming hobby as it evolves into a professional sport.

Founded in 1981, Twin Galaxies grew from modest origins as a video arcade, to gain recognition as the “official scorekeeper for the world of video game & pinball playing”, vested with the authority to verify “official” world record high-scores and crown new world champions.  The Twin Galaxies Scoreboard was the creation of Walter Day, Twin Galaxies’ founder, who, on June 6, 1981, embarked on a series of business trips that took him through 15 U.S. states in 4 months. Though his role as a traveling salesman was the focus of his trip, Day’s real passion was to visit as many video game arcades as possible and record the high scores he found on each game.  Ten thousand miles and one hundred arcades later, Day, on November 10, 1981, opened his own arcade in the sleepy midwestern town of Ottumwa, Iowa.  He named his arcade Twin Galaxies; a name that simply sprang out of his head one day.  The name rolled off the tongue so easily, and felt so familiar to Day that he actually thought he must have heard it somewhere being used as another company’s name.  Not so, it was simply an inspirational thought, and the name has stood ever since.

Twin Galaxies’ tranquil existence was altered when, on February 9, 1982, Day’s growing database of high score statistics were made available to the public as the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard.  In the coming years, the Twin Galaxies arcade and the town of Ottumwa in general, was considered to be the number one hot-spot for competitive video-gaming, as many significant tournaments and world record gaming attempts were performed here.  As the organizational center of competitive video game playing, Twin Galaxies received immediate recognition from the major game manufacturers of the day: Atari, Midway, Williams Electronics, Universal, Stern, Nintendo, and Exidy, in addition to support from RePlay magazine and Playmeter magazine, the two premier coin-op publications of that era.

Twin Galaxies’ role as the scorekeeper grew in importance, as “player-rankings” became a major focus of the media.  As the pioneer in ranking the top players, Twin Galaxies was called upon to bring the superstar players together for many well-publicized contests and media events. For example, On November 7, 1982, LIFE magazine visited Twin Galaxies to capture sixteen of North America’s best players in a group photograph.  On November 30, 1982 the Mayor of Ottumwa Jerry Parker declared the hometown of Twin Galaxies to be the “Video Game Capital of the World.”  Following this decree, Ottumwa hosted the first North American Video Olympics.  Two months later, on January 9, 1983, ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible came to Ottumwa, Iowa, to film nineteen of the world’s best players competing in the first-ever video game world championship.  On March 19, 1983, players from around North America came to Twin Galaxies to join representatives of Atari, the Amusement Game Manufacturers Association (AGMA), RePlay magazine and Video Games magazine as Iowa Governor Terry Branstad acknowledged Twin Galaxies’ role as the official scorekeeper and supported the title, crowning Ottumwa, Iowa as the “Video Game Capital of the World”.

As Twin Galaxies continued to rank top players, the first national video game team was formed to represent the United States, made up of a select cadre of the very best talent.  Called the U.S. National Video Game Team, Day was the founding team captain and issued international video game challenges to Japan, the United Kingdom, and Italy, even hand-delivering proclamations to their respective Embassies in Washington, DC.  Eventually, the team toured the U.S., Europe, and Asia during the 1980s.

Billy Mitchell

By 1985, Twin Galaxies had enjoyed major media coverage in LIFE magazine, Marvel Comics, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Stern magazine, The Washington Post, and nearly 100 TV appearances, including ABC-TV’s Entertainment Tonight and NBC Nightly News.  As Twin Galaxies’ fame spread further, Walter Day was designated an assistant editor in charge of video game scores for the 1984-1986 editions of the U.S. edition of The Guinness Book of World Records.  After Guinness World Records decided to cease coverage of video game scores in their books, Twin Galaxies, under Day’s direction, wrote the first official rulebook for playing electronic games and established the rules and standardized settings for each game.  Today, this rulebook has evolved into Twin Galaxies’ most well-known product: Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, a two-volume edition totaling 1500 pages, containing scores from players in 31 different countries compiled since 1981.  Guinness World Records officially recognized Twin Galaxies as the authority on all video gaming scores and records, and in 2008 began importing their database of champions into the annual book, the Guinness Gamer’s Edition, highlighting a myriad of video gaming scores and achievements.

By the turn of the millennium, Day would find himself considering retirement, as well as attempting another passion of his, creating his own music.  In 2006, successful business owner Pete Bouvier became involved with Twin Galaxies, and at the start of 2007 became the CEO and owner operator of the company under it’s new name, Twin Galaxies International.  Bouvier has transformed the company into a professional services organization, called on to adjudicate video game world records, and facilitate contests and tournaments for major gaming companies.  The company employs a worldwide staff of referees and writers, allowing them to cover video gaming events happening all over the globe.

Today, Twin Galaxies International is recognized as the world’s premiere electronic games referee providing governance for the video gaming industry.  They cover arcade, home consoles new and old, PC, pinball, handhelds and portables, and will being tracking mobile phone gaming in the near future.  Twin Galaxies International sets and enforces the rules for gameplay, validates and retains the scores and achievements, and maintains the integrity of fair play across the sport of competitive video gaming.

In the foreseeable future, Twin Galaxies International has plans to release the first trading card set of the video gaming champions from across the globe.  They will begin issuing licenses to gaming establishments, enticing players to visit and attempt world record scores.  They will also begin tracking scores on one of the newest video gaming platforms that has really gained a foothold in the market, mobile phones.  The company will also continue to have a major presence at the Big Bang event held annually at the International Video Game Hall of Fame located at Twin Galaxies’ birthplace, Ottumwa, Iowa.


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Gavin Jedionston


About jedionston

Gavin "Dirk" Jedionston the "N" in "In N Out"

Posted on March 4, 2012, in LATEST ARTICLES and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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