Kelly Tharp Marathon
Kelly Tharp vs. Q*Bert at Challenge Arcade Link
Is Kelly Tharp an Ironman at Q*bert? Rumors say that Mousetrap is Next!
Kelly Tharp will be showing up at the famous Challenge arcade to marathon
on the game Q*bert in the Reading, Pennsylvania for a three-day run on one
quarter, starting on February 20, 2006. Kelly Tharp has already gotten into
the record books on tapper by winning the Marathon crown world record on
December 4th, 2005 in Humble, Texas during the highly-acclaimed
"Legends of the Golden Age" classic gamers reunion.
2/11/2006 Kelly Tharp vs. Q*Bert at Challenge Arcade Link
Kelly Tharp is preparing for a massive Q*bert Marathon Challenge not done
since the Jeff Peters Marathon during the Golden Years of July 2, 1985
in Canada at the Iron Man Challenge.
Reading, PA - February 11, 2006 -- Kelly Tharp, of Sellersburg, Indiana, will be
Marathoning Q*bert at the nationally-famous Challenge Arcade in the Reading,
Pennsylvania area for a three-day stint starting on February 20, 2006.
Kelly Tharp has already won his way into the gaming history books by taking the Tapper
Marathon crown on December 4 in Humble, Texas during the highly-acclaimed "Legends of
the Golden Age" classic gamer's reunion. Kelly lasted 18 hours, scoring 9,437,400 points
to beat the 9,100,175-point mark set by Famington, NY's Greg Erway on June 20, 2003.
Since the beginning of organized video game playing, Q*Bert has been recognized as the
most difficult game to marathon for great lengths of time. Due to its bizarre array of
colorful screens, the game play is harder on the eyes than any other game of the
"Golden Age" of arcade classics, and countless players have failed to beat the
22-year-old world record of 33,273,520 points set by Bob Gerhardt of Lloydminster,
Alberta, Canada on November 28, 1983.
"Most players can only handle one or two marathons in their career," says Walter Day
Chief Scorekeeper at Twin Galaxies and editor of the Official Video Game & Pinball Book
of World Records. "If Kelly beats Q*bert in addition to his prior victory over Tapper,
he will attain a level of prestige few players will ever reach."
Apparently, Kelly is an old hand at Mara honing games. Though his past accomplishments
were never verified by Twin Galaxies, he reports prodigious scores on important titles:
Jungle Hunt (521,620 points), Mousetrap (18,000,000 points), Q*bert (12,800,000 points),
Burgertime (3,800,000 points), Battlezone (1.1 million points) and Robotron (27,000,000
points). He also claims to have finished Crystal Castles, Galaga, Kick Man, Pac Man,
Paperboy, Dragons Lair1&2, Space Ace Cliffhanger and Marble Madness.
The Challenge Arcade is located at the Berkshire Mall, 1665 State Hill Road, Wyomissing,
PA 19610 (Reading area). Their phone number is 610-376-1650. The Challenge Arcade will be
conducting an arcade championship during the weekend of March 17-19, 2006.
Kelly Tharp known as by the three initials LJM will be Marathoning Q*bert
Kelly Tharp is getting ready to play his world record marathon
Paraphrase of Kelly Tharp:
I will be going to Reading Penn on February 20, 2006 for a 72 hour Marathon
on Q*bert. This will beat all previous marathon records, as it will be taped
on February 20th and Mark Alpiger MDARULZ will have to pay me big bucks when I have
accomplished this goal as the bounty winner.
Mark get your checkbook out because failure is not an option!!
Kelly Tharp is one of the world record holders of several games including
Tapper, Jungle Hunt, Mousetrap, Q*bert, Burgertime, Battlezone, Robotron 2084
and he has completed some popular games including: Crystal Castles, Galaga,
Kick Man, Pac Man Paperboy, dragonslair, Space ace, cliffhanger, and
Marble Madness so he is quite the contender.
Kelly Tharp VS. Q*bert at Challenge Arcade
Kelly Tharp and Paul Dean are the most recent Marathon Champions and
world record holders of their games, Tapper and Frenzy from the Reunion of the
Champions at Totally Amused Arcade on December 4, 2005. Paul Dean has also a marathon
record on Spy Hunter from the 1985 Masters Tournament in which the famous Jeff Peters and Phil Britt were
able to witness the spy hunter 1985 accomplishment and Walter Day with Dwayne
Richard at the helm, were able to watch and witness the 41 hour Frenzy Marathon of
Kelly Tharp has put down his challenge on Q*bert at the famous Challenge Arcade
Mark Alpiger has put down several competitive challenges and put up his own money for
such bounties in order for players to come to Challenge Arcade and get some world
records at Mark Alpigers Tournament. He encourages people to shoot for his bounties
and is ready to pay out a few bucks in order to get these high scores broken.
Kelly Tharp challenges Q*bert... at Challenge Arcade !!
" on: Today at 04:23:14 PM "
Kelly Tharp well into Qbert Marathon at Challenge Arcade
Kelly Tharp is Ready for the Challenge
The report is that Kelly Tharp had made it to the Challenge Arcade and preparations
were being made to begin his marathon run on Q*bert. The problem was that the
recording equipment gave him many problems in the first several hours of
recording his Q*bert marathon game. Unfortunately he could not start at his
1 pm start time because of the broken recording equipment and that was just
the beginning of some very major problems.
Walter Day had deputized Joe LeVan, as 'deputy referee', for the event in order
to confirm Kelly Tharp's performance for Twin Galaxies. This occured one other
time when Mark Alpiger was made a deputy referee for the 2005 Legends of the Golden
Age Houston Arcade Championships event which was located in Humble, Texas.
Some of the referee's jobs are not so glamorous because not only does the referee
have to record the high scores but they must be in charge of the not so fun job
of collecting and safeguarding all marathon run urine samples such as Paul Dean's
urine sample once he was done with his 41 hour Frenzy world record score. In this
way, no person may use artificial stimulants allowing them to stay up longer
than everyone else when marathoning. This is a requirement for marathon scores
over 12 hours in length, a necessary but not glamorous job.
Kelly Tharp needs a world record score of 33,273,520 points to beat the high
score of Bob Gerhardt which was set way back on November 28, 1983.
(The goal is to last approximately 72 Hours in order to get a new world
record and beat the Bob Gerhardt Q*bert High Score from 1983 - Of course
strategies may be different and sleepiness will slow a persons reaction and
Will Kelly Tharp see the judges in three days with a new world record, only
time will tell.
URINE TEST REQUIREMENT
(INSERT: There were other problems related to the Urine Test facility
and it looks like Kelly Tharp will be starting over again on his Marathon
attempt in September of 2006. Mousetrap could be another target on Kelly
Tharp's radar for a new marathon world record score.)
Paraphrase of Kelly Tharp report:
It has been reported that Kelly Tharp took small breaks and went back to the
Q*bert game right away before losing to many men. His bladder did not give
out as he only took one bathroom break.
Many people walking into the arcade have continued to support him by watching
him and were quite surprised that he had an iron concentration.
He was even supported by the concession owners in the mall as they brought him
some free food to keep him going on his marathon. This was a neat donation of
support that the mall owners provided on their own.
Kelly Tharp finally passed the Iron Man threshold and surpassed the Frenzy
marathon record of Paul Dean's which had lasted 41 hours in December of 2005.
This Kelly Tharp effort is considered the second-longest marathoner of the last 20 years
with Brandon "Star Wars" Erickson being in the lead with a 54 hour journey on one
quarter done in May of 2005.
What is the longest time of any video game marathon that has been verified?
Jim Vollandt "Iron Man Contest" "Canada" 67.5 hours which is close to the holy grail
3 day mark of marathoning.
Press Releases - Twin Galaxies
2/22/2006 Kelly Tharp Ends at 19.9 Million on Q*Bert Link
Finishing with 44 Hours, Tharp Took over 6th Place, passing scores from 1983
Kelly Tharp's Attempt to Break 22-Year-Old Q*Bert World Record Ends at 19,966,580
Million Points and 44 1/2 Hours. If approved, Tharp Takes over 6th place in the
Now, Twin Galaxies has to review the entire videotape of the performance before
giving the final seal of approval.
Kelly Tharp has finished his marathon on the legendary arcade video game, Q*Bert,
possibly the most difficult video game in history to play for long periods of time
due to its bizarre geometry and colorful screens. For more background information
on Kelly's quest, go to this story: Man Attempts 72-Hour Marathon to Break Video Game
Kelly reports that his eyes could no longer see the screen at the end and he was
helpless to stop his men from dying, even though he was wide awake and had plenty
of stamina still left.
To see Kelly's ever-changing position on the all-time Q*Bert rankings, go to the
Q*BERT CHARTS. Link
Kelly Tharp now surpasses the Jeff Peters Q*bert Iron Man High score of 19,498,150
done of July 8, 1985 in Canada after the Third Annual Masters Tournament in 1985.
When ever you can beat an Iron Man High Score you have done well.
In order to get the number one world record high score held by Bob Gerhardt from
November 28, 1985, Kelly Tharp would have to play for 72 hours. His score is
60% of the standing world record and Mark Alpiger's bounty money is safe and
sound because there was no score which would beat the James Vollandt, Joust high
score which was played for over 67 1/2 hours which is the best iron man score ever
recorded or seen in person by Walter Day, Twin Galaxies Referee.
Kelly Tharp Q*bert Marathon on Day Two and Beyond
February 22, 2006
Joe: Paraphrase from Challenge Arcade:
As Joe from Challenge arcade has updated the message boards throughout the
marathon he relates the message that Kelly Tharp looked "pretty perky"
and was still quite alert even after not sleeping for almost two days.
Kelly Tharp is still going and is almost at the 48 mark, not giving up and
not taking to many more breaks.
Media will show once this mark has been accomplished as this is quite a feat
that will hit the news media and the world as a major accomplishment.
Still minimal breaks and just one jog to the bathroom, which I am calling
the iron bladder of one Kelly Tharp.
This is quite a quest that every one is getting interested in since Kelly has
now surpassed Paul Dean's 41 hour effort on Frenzy, from this past December, to
become the second-longest marathoner of the last 20 years except for Brandon
Erickson which lasted 54 hours in May of 2005 at the Ground Kontrol Oregon Arcade.
If he can beat Brandon Erickson we might see a 66 hour marathon which is approximately
the amount of time to beat the old world record of so many years ago.
Kelly Tharp near end of 44 hour Q*bert Marathon
Now at 36 hours Kelly Tharp is getting quite a stubble of a beard as he
has no time to stop for a shave and shower.
Looking a ragged and tired, but not giving up Kelly Tharp knows he has another
day and a half to go in order to get this Q*bert Marathon World Title.
Kelly Tharp hits the 42 hour mark at 8:00am and is looking a bit beat up
as he has passed 19 million points, in which not to few have seen.
That puts Kelly Tharp at sixth place so far on the TG scoreboard, can he
Kelly Tharp loses vision on day two of the incredible Kelly Tharp Q*bert Marathon
It happened on February 22, 2006, 11:00 am
For Kelly Tharp, the quest is over. for some reason at about 44 1/2 hours
his site gave away and he could no longer see the screen.
His Q*bert high score was a decent 19,966,580 points, which put him firmly
in sixth place on the Twin Galaxies scoreboard, just beating the great
Jeff Peters of the Golden Era. If you are going to beat somebody it might
as well be Jeff Peters, and by about 1/2 million points in change. Jeff Peters
has held many world records and it is no small job to beat that previous
iron man score. However that is not the world record.
Jeff Peters was quite the prodigy as he did this score at the ripe old age
of 19 in the "Canada Iron Man Contest" which was right after the June 28, 1985
Third Annual Video Game Masters Tournament. Kelly Tharp being twice the
age of Jeff Peters is quite the accomplishment as the modern era old sage is able
to beat the high score of the young lad from the classic era of 1985. Will
Jeff Peters stand still for the thrashing. Only time will tell.
Kelly Tharp believes he could go much longer if his vision was clearer.
A possible eye saver would be sunglasses or a tinted glass, and believe
it or not Kelly Tharp is not done yet. He plans on doing this marathon
again some day as he still has some ump in him. He states he could go
another day for sure. His body can take this type of punishment, but he
has other high scores he will go after next, which will also be marathons.
What do you do when your eyes are watering so much that you can no longer
It is hard to watch your men die off one by one and not save them because
you just cannot focus enough to get them to safety because of the extreme
watering of the eye after staring at the screen for almost 48 hours of play.
He had to watch over 300 men die one by one as he had this many in storage
according to some estimates.
Neither the extra 300+ men turned over and the actual 10 million digit
showed during his game which is unusual because most programmers don't
think a score like that can be achieved so they leave out the 10 million
digit when programming video games.
The bummer is that there is no place to put the high score initials.
For a total of three restroom breaks I'll say he did pretty good.
He is now an official iron man at the age of 39 years old, not quite
beating the age of Paul Dean who was actually 40 years old when he
did his Frenzy 41 Hour Marathon. But Kelly Tharp is still young and
ready for another marathon.
Hopefully this brings excitement to the hobby of playing classic video games
in a major marathon, for others to take on the challenge.
February 24, 2006 9:27am
Jeff Peters Reply to the Kelly Tharp High Score which beat Jeff Peters
score which he did at the Iron Man contest in 1985:
To: Paul Dean,
Ya know, I'd love to go for the world record on this again :) Its a shame
Kelly 'just' beat me.
We'll have to arrange something in the future at one of the classic gaming
I played a game of Qbert last week to see if I still remember how to play the machine
and can still get very high scores with only having lost 4 lives :)
Thanks for forwarding the info!!
Jeff Peters - Q*bert Champion
February 24, 2006 10:34 pm
TO: Jeff Peters
Great to here that you would be interested in regaming your
q*bert high score again, as Kelly Tharp just barely beat
your score from 1985.
I am sure that if you call Walter Day in order to regame, it
would be a huge media event, just like Kelly Tharp's world
Kelly Tharp retort (LJM) after his 44 hour marathon
February 23, 2006
Day 2 and Beyond, Q*bert
Will Kelly Tharp try again to beat the 72 hour Q*bert World Record?
Kelly Tharp has loved the many good wishes and support of the other players/owners/
and customers of this Q*bert Marathon and is very enthusiastic about regaming.
Will you Regame? YES!!!!!! I can beat this record, states Kelly Tharp
This game was a learning tool in order to do things much differently at my
in which I will be using a "clicker" to count all of my men
and a stop watch so I can rest every 10 hours in order to be able to see the
screen clearly for all three days which are required to beat the high score.
A tinted overlay will be used if that is ok with Twin Galaxies because of the
heavy glare one notices while playing this game
The rest benefit will be the most important strategy in the next gaming session
so there will not be a tearing of the eye from eye stain in Q*Bert Qubes.
Twin Galaxies Forums Forum Index -> Coin-Op Video Games Link
Location: St. Louis, MO, USA
Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:58 am Post subject:
Unless my calculator is broken, 72 hours won't even be enough time for Kelly Tharp
to pass the record. Even if it was, eyes don't last that long.
LATER: Boy, did I call that or what? Not even two hours passed before he finished.
Although, that was about eight more hours than I figured he would last.
49 TG world records, so far
(10 other scores to be submitted)
HIGHEST SCORE: 3,296,110 (12/23/04)
LONGEST PERFECT: 299,990 (12/14/05)
Currently working on:
PS2 Tiger Woods 2002-2006 (23.1% complete)
A surprise game
Keeper of the Rules
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posted: Sun Mar 05, 2006 1:52 pm Post subject:
Unless my calculator is broken, 72 hours won't even be enough time for Kelly
Tharp to pass the record. Even if it was, eyes don't last that long.
yep...I just read that story. This is my first visit here in a couple months.
I have been very busy with work, moving etc.
I hope to get regularly active here again...at least on the weekends.
I did a second marathon on Q*Bert on Memorial Day weekend in 1983(was not
officially recognized) where I stopped serious play at 24.8 million at the 44 hour
Kelly is scoring about 20% slower than I do. That is extremely significant for a
Any player of Q*Bert serious about a marathon needs to train and get where they
can easily score at least 500k/hour.
On my 25 million game even at the 40 hour mark I was still having an hour with
I don't know if 23 years later if I have the endurance that I would need to do a
long marathon like this anymore.
I think it would take a few smaller marathons first like 24 hour and 36 hour ones
to see how my body and mind recover from those before going for a 48-72 hour length
The only time I could do that though would be on a whole week vacation as I think
it would be 1 day of rest and prep, then 3 days of play then 2 days of recovery
Personally that isn't worth it now days. However, I would love to set a nice WR for
5-man Q*Bert. I think the existing 2 million score is good but that can be outdone.
bounty to motivate me? Hehe
US National Video Game Team, 1986
Steve Harris, Perry Rodgers, Jeff Peters
Jeff Peters lasted 40+ hours on his 19,498,150 Q*bert game at the Iron Man
contest in Canada. Link
Q*bert, Arcade, Points [Marathon]
World Rank 6
Score Type Points
Player Jeff Peters
Upland, CA. USA
Date Achieved Monday, July 08, 1985
Date Verified Monday, July 08, 1985
Verification Method Referee
Verified By Walter Day
Score Status Active
Location Johnny Zee's Family Fun Ctr.
Rules Points [Marathon]
Kelly Tharp survives on Peanut Butter throughout his Q*bert Game Play Link
Kelly is currently surviving on the following sugar and protein:
Chick-Fil-A, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups,
and Lance's peanut butter crackers for his marathon attempt at Q*bert.
He was nearing the 15 million mark with several hundred
lives still in reserve when another bathroom break was needed.
He dashes to the bathroom in the arcade, generally only losing 4 or
5 lives in the process, as he is both a marathon Q*bert player and
a skilled athlete when it comes to the bowels.
Q-Bert Champ Seeks Perfect Score
(Page 1 of 2)
NEW YORK, Aug 4, 2005
Doris Self playing Q-Bert (CBS/The Early Show)
(CBS) Most video game champions end up retiring long before they get their first
However, The Early Show contributor Laurie Hibberd recently met a woman whose passion
and skill for video games seems to only be improving with age. And, she's nearly 80.
For the "Young at Heart" series, Hibberd went to the classic video game championships
in Laconia, N. H., where gaming wizards from across the country gathered to bump, flip,
and shoot their way into the record books. Among them was 79 year-old Doris Self of
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Her game of choice is Q-Bert.
She tells Hibberd, "Some of the younger kids memorize patterns and all, but I just sort
of go with the flow."
Her technique may not be very complicated, but Self is no amateur. She's already listed
among Q-Bert's top players in the official Video Game And Pinball Book Of World Records.
Ranked No.1 in 1983, Self slipped to second just two years later. Now, after more than
two decades, she's mounting a comeback.
The competitive spirit Self reveals in Q-Bert is more often seen during her card games.
Self notes, "The girls who I bridge with think I'm nuts going down to the arcade to go
play games with kids. 'What's the matter with you?'"
Long before Self was winning money at cards or spending it in the arcade, she was a
pioneer in the airline industry, one of the original flight attendants for Eastern
She says, "The plane I used to fly on is hanging from the ceiling" at the Smithsonian
Air and Space Museum.
Doris Self playing Q-Bert (CBS/The Early Show) Link
(CBS) It was during her Eastern Airlines career that Self met and married pilot
Paul Self. They had two children and were married for 32 years until Paul died
She says, "My daughter took me to a movie. I didn't have much to do because I
had taken care of him for a good year before he died. And she walks up to a machine.
I had never seen an arcade game before, and she said 'Mom, come here you'll get a
kick out of this.' Famous last words - there I went."
Not only is Self still playing, but experts say she's at the top of her game.
"Doris Self is an exciting phenomenon," says classic video game scorekeeper, Walter Day.
"Her skill set is even better. What she has done in practice has already been higher
than 20-some years ago."
Back at the tournament, Self settled in for a long weekend, complete with snacks
and a stuffed mascot by her side.
Ultimately, there would be no new record.
"There were too many interruptions and too many distractions," she says. "I have a
stand-up Q-Bert that I'm used to and they put me at a sit-down. They didn't have a
stand up and we had to alternate chairs. I had a chair, then put a pillow on it;
then I'd get used to the chair."
So is she done with Q-Bert?
"No," she says,." Three o'clock in the morning, I come out and play Q-Bert. It's so
relaxing and fun."
Q*bert Collects Quarters
Doris Self plays Q*bert until wee hours of the morning
And it's easy to play Q-Bert at three o'clock in the morning, when there's one in
"I knew it was her dream to own a machine," says Billy Mitchell, who delivered the
Q-Bert to her home. A video gaming legend, Mitchell holds records on several classic
games - including Pac- Man. Now, he's hoping to help Self regain her title.
"She was always so giving. So good-willed," he says, "So now it's time to come back to
her a bit. Or so I hope."
It seems like such an unlikely friendship, but it works.
He says, "We have the same controlled obsession and passion to win at video games."
And that passion to win has Self training for yet another tournament, this time in Lond
on in August and just one month shy of her 80th birthday.
"It's a challenge," she says with a smile. "Why do I shoot craps? Why do I play poker? I
play to win."
Self will travel with her friend Mitchell, who hopes to shield Self from the distractions
that come with being such a prominent player.
Self already has beaten her old record on the machine in her home. So, if things don't
work out in London, she may just go for the record, right there in her den.
1984 Video Game Masters Tournament results
(as printed in the 1985 GBWR)
unknown Ft. Lauderdale, FL
1985 Video Game Masters Tournament results
(as printed in the 1986 GBWR)
Duluth, Minn unknown
80-year-old woman trains to regain Q*bert record>> 10:19 AM Jakub Wojnarowicz
Now, Doris Self, of Fort Lauderdale, eats, drinks and sleeps Q*Bert, the classic video
game from the early 1980s, practicing day and night. And, if she breaks the Q*bert
record, she'll be history's oldest video game world champion.
"I was the Q*bert champion in 1984 with a score of 1,112,300 points," remembers Doris Self
"At that time, I was the oldest video game champ in the world at 58 years old, a fact
verified by Twin Galaxies' scorekeeper Walter Day (www.twingalaxies.com). It's still
listed in Twin Galaxies' Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, the gaming
industry's official book of records."
Though Doris Self' score was bested in 1985, she still retained the status of "oldest"
champion until 2003 when John Lawton, 72, of New Hampshire, captured the Depthcharge
"I was sad when I lost the title I had held for twenty years," laments Doris Self. "Then I
got a call from gaming legend Billy Mitchell, who offered to loan me a Q*bert machine
to practice on and win back my title. Billy made me promise that I would give up poker
and practice Q*bert everyday."
80-Year-Old Still Going Link
Thanks to Q*bert, this older gamer won't stop playing.
by Patrick Klepek, 05/26/2005
Just when you thought you might be getting a little old for gaming, along comes
80 year old Doris Self of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A self-professed fan of the
classic video game Qbert since the 1980's.
Doris Self was the Qbert champion in 1984 with a score of 1,112,300 points.
You think you're too old to be a gamer? Not a chance. 80 year-old Doris Self of
Fort Lauderdale, Florida likely holds that rank, a self-professed fan of classic video
game Q*bert. Self has been working her Q*bert magic since the 1980s.
"I was the Q*bert champion in 1984 with a score of 1,112,300 points," said Self.
"At that time, I was the oldest video game champ in the world at 58 years old, a
fact verified by Twin Galaxies' scorekeeper Walter Day."
Over the years, however, her grip on these titles has slipped, mostly recently
losing claim of oldest gamer to 72-year-old John Lawton of New Hampshire. If anything,
these events have only fueled Self's desire to reclaim what was once hers. Nowadays,
she's refining her Q*bert skill, with the hopes of eventually taking back her titles.
"I was sad when I lost the title I had held for twenty years," said Self. "Then I got
a call from gaming legend Billy Mitchell, who offered to loan me a Q*bert machine to
practice on and win back my title. Billy made me promise that I would give up poker
and practice Q*bert everyday."
Stay tuned to 1UP.com and official video game record keepers Twin Galaxies to see if
Self is able to enter the high score ranks once again.
How did Gottlieb's video game, Q*bert get its funny name in the first place? Link
The programmers and designers had are meeting and someone was playing with the
word CUBE. Someone else suggested HUBERT since it was a real name and rhymed
with CUBE in a way. Then someone else had a brainstorm and wrote CUBERT on the
Everyone kind of liked the sound of it and we were all sitting there nodding and
getting used to it, when I think it was Rich Tracy, our art director, who rewrote
it as Q-BERT and somehow the asterisk got stuck in there and we all knew we had
found it. It felt right.
Eighty-year-old Florida video gamer looks to reclaim world record
Canadian Press, Toronto, ON, Canada
Eighty-year-old Florida video gamer looks to reclaim world record
Doris Self is used to turning heads when she plays video games
By Neil Davidson
The Canadian Press - Doris Self Turns Heads
August 4, 2005 -- Doris Self is used to turning heads when she plays video games. Link
"To find an 80-year-old white-haired woman sitting at an arcade game, it amazes them,"
Self's expertise is even more remarkable. The Florida resident is headed to Croydon,
England, later this month in search of a record Qbert score at the Classic Gaming
Doris Self at London, England CGEUK Contest Summer of 2005
Doris Self - A long love of Q*bert
Doris Self first tried her hand at video games some 22 years ago in Plantation, Fla. Her
husband had just died and she found herself with time on her hands. That changed one
day when her daughter took her out to the movies and then pizza at a Chuck E. Cheese
"After she ordered, she went over and started playing this game. I had never seen an
arcade game before," Self said in an interview. "And she said 'Mom, come over here. I
think you'll get a kick out of it.' Well mom got a kick of it. And mom started going
to the arcade."
It was 10 minutes away from her house and open 24 hours a day, and soon Self became
hooked on Qbert. It was too busy during the daytime so she went at night.
"I remember the first morning I came in at 7 o'clock and my daughter was just going
out to work. She looked at me and shook her head. Then she said 'I don't believe it.'
I said 'Well it's your fault, you showed me.' "
Qbert is a furry orange orb whose task is to hop around a pyramid, changing every
piece to a different color. The task gets more difficult as the game progresses,
especially when assorted enemies get in the way.
Billy Mitchell, now 40 and a champion gamer himself, met Self in 1983 at that Florida
Doris Self - Q*bert
"Doris Self was the old lady who played Qbert," he recalled. "She was 58 years old, she
was full of spunk. She was the old lady and we were all the wise-guy kids in the
arcade and we got along great."
"It was not uncommon to see Doris Self walk in there at 11 p.m. and walk out at 7 a.m."
Mitchell compares her to Granny in TV's Beverly Hillbillies.
"Well she's far more stubborn than her and she's a little spunkier than her," Mitchell
said. "She's a lot of fun to be around."
Mitchell helped Self get back in the gaming saddle again several years ago after a
break, lending her an arcade version of Qbert. And when a 72-year-old New Hampshire
man dethroned her as world champion, Mitchell convinced her to try again.
"I play every day," Self says. "If it's 3 o'clock in the morning, I just play until I
feel like I can go to sleep and then I go to bed."
She is no fan of modern games, however.
"I've tried quite a few. I don't care for the newer modern games at all, but I do play
a few of the classics because I got started on them. I always end up going back to
"Well, it's a challenge that I can beat eventually if I work at it. Pac-Man I could
Now that's Mitchell's game. On July 3, 1999, at the Funspot arcade in Weirs Beach, N.H.,
he scored a perfect game on Pac-Man. The score of 3,333,360 took him five to six hours.
He completed 256 mazes _ "every dot, every energizer, every blue guy."
"You literally exhaust the game's memory," he explained. "The 256th screen, the left
half of the board is normal and the right half is computer garble."
He has also set world records on Donkey Kong and Centipede.
Mitchell is part gamer and part restaurateur (his family owns the Rickey's restaurant
chain in Florida and he sells hot sauce).
He counts several Canadian classic gamers among his friends and rivals: Hamilton's Rick
Fothergill, known as Captain Canada for the Canadian cape he wears, and Dwayne Richard
of Grande Prairie, Alta.
Their bible is the Twin Galaxies' Official Video and Pinball Book of World Records,
which tracks gaming accomplishments (www.twingalaxies.com) under the guidance of
Self goes for her record _ 1.8 million points _ on Aug. 13, 2005.
Who made it all happen with the Q*bert phenomenon?
Warren Davis, Senior Software Engineer, Classic Q*bert Mastermind:
Warren Davis studied at computer engineering and landed a job at Bell Laboratories.
This job consisted of new iteration of the company's operator system and then
onto the Voice Recognition research and development department. He eventually
moved on to Gottlieb, which was a well-known pinball manufacturer who planned to
go heavily into the new untapped video game market. This was a free wheeling
time and the management said, "just make a game that is interesting enough
for us to sell." It was a collaborative culture which lead to Warren's most
famous creation, Q*bert. This was an exercise in gravity and randomness. The
basic pyramid structure always intrigued him so he put into the form of a
game. The playfield was put into a seven level pyramid structure with a falling
ball which was affected by artificial gravity. The original name for q*bert
was Snot's and Boogers, which is why the main character has such a large
snout. Q*bert was originally going to use his snout as a weapon having nose
debris shoot out. This idea was eventually rejected.
Dave Theil was in charge of the sound and Jeff Lee was the graphic artist.
The synthesized noises are actually a random number generator converted into
noises being thrown to the speech chip. Rick Tighe installed a pinball flicker
inside the cabinet which gave a blunt thud when Q*bert plunged from the pyramid.
Hubert is the main bouncing character which vaguely rhymes with 'cube', becoming
'Cubert'. With an asterisk and a moniker the whole thing was set in stone. Q*bert.
Q*Bert's simplicity and charming detail made it a big hit. 25,000 cabinets in
all were sold since its release in 1982. Qberts cubes was one sequel but Warren
didn't want to dumb down the game so he created a real sequel called Q*bertha.
This sequel was released in the 1990's via Mame. It is a bit harder with the same
In 1984 there was a video game crash and that was the end of Gottlieb.
The premise is to turn all of the cubes the same color without being whipped out
by the relentless coiled snake became the past time of many and it still holds mass
appeal over 20 years later.
Other threats come from "Ugg" and "Wrongway," two purple gremlins who bounce along
the side of the cubes. And on top of all this, Q has to deal with "Slick" and "Sam,"
two green mischief making pineapples who turn cubes back to their original color when
they hop on them.
Q*Bert collecting qubes to build his pyramid, whilst avoiding the qube-stealing
attacks of the villains has been a several decade old obsession by some.
A two-legged, big-nosed, orange creature jumps diagonally around on a pyramid,
changing the color of the blocks he lands on. Avoid most moving objects and
characters while luring Coily, the snake, to his demise by jumping off the edge
of the pyramid onto one of the flying disks. The game has nine levels of four
rounds each. Q*Bert collecting qubes to build his pyramid, whilst avoiding the
qube-stealing attacks of the villains.
A two-legged, big-nosed, orange creature jumps diagonally around on a pyramid,
changing the color of the blocks he lands on. Avoid most moving objects and
characters while luring Coily, the snake, to his demise by jumping off the
edge of the pyramid onto one of the flying disks. The game has nine levels of
four rounds each.
Know anything more about this game?Click here to contribute a description or
other text information.
The dedicated upright cabinets include a 'knocker' solenoid that activates
whenever a character falls off the pyramid. The effect creates a rather loud
"knock!" inside the cabinet whenever the device is activated. The solenoid is
the same type that was used in many older pinball machines to indicate that a
free game had been awarded.
The main PCB can be configured to play both Q*bert and Faster Harder More
Challenging Q*bert. This can be performed via a ROM swap with some basic
wiring to a switch.
The orange character who you control in this game is Q*bert. The purple
characters are your enemies and their names are Coily (the spring-like snake),
Ugg (the pig-like creature) and Wrong-Way (the sharp-toothed creature who
moves upside down). The friendly green creatures are named Slick (the one
with the dark glasses) and Sam (the one with the white bulging eyes).
You must have Q*bert hop on all the squares of each pyramid and change them
into the color that they are required to be. Every time Q*bert is hit by something,
he says "@!#?@!". You must be careful and be sure that Q*bert does not fall off
As the attract mode explains, green is safe, nothing else is.
The first dangerous things to appear are the red Whammy Balls. They drop down
onto the second row and bounce down in random directions before falling off the
Next is Coily. He begins as a large purple ball that acts just like a Whammy Ball
until it reaches the bottom row. After a brief pause, it becomes the snake and will
relentlessly chase Q*Bert around the pyramid.
Ugg and Wrong Way appear together. They are oddballs in that their gravity is
different. They bounce around the sides of the blocks (Wrong Way on the left,
Ugg on the right), going "down" until disappearing off their respective "bottom rows".
There are three different green things that appear. Unless the enemies prevent you,
you will want to make it a point to collect anything green.
Slick and Sam appear together and do the same thing. They bounce down like Whammy
Balls, but everywhere they land, the color of the cube changes to something other
than the target. As such, they become quite a nuisance in later levels. If you can
grab them, you will stop their mischief and net 300 points.
The little green ball is among the least common of things to see because they are
so useful. Collecting the green ball not only nets you 100 points but starts a
brief time freeze where you can hop around without interference.
On each side of the pyramids, there are discs that Q*bert can use to escape from
the bad guys. Everytime Q*bert jumps onto a disc, it will carry him back to the
top of the pyramid. It is best to use a disc whenever Coily is close behind, so
when Q*bert uses a disc at that moment, Coily will jump off of the pyramid.
Killing Coily also clears the board of enemies (very handy).
You must have all squares changed to the required color to proceed to the next
round. After all four rounds on a level are completed, you will proceed to the
On the first level, you only need to jump on a square once to make it the correct
color. At level two, you need to jump on them twice. At level three, you only need
to jump once, but jumping on a square already at its target color changes it back!
At level four, two jumps are required and jumping on a target color changes it to
the intermediary color, requiring you to jump on it once more to change it back.
At level five, jumping on a target color changes it back to the original color.
It just gets harder from there as you may need to jump on a square three times or
more. Also, as the game progresses, the pace gets faster. By about level six, you
will be going about twice as fast as at level one. Level nine repeats infinitely.
This game was licensed to Konami for Japanese manufacture and distribution.
The game was also sold as a bootleg version by Jeutel in France. Some of the
manufactured boards were simple conversions from Jeutel's Q*bert bootleg boards,
with some very basic hardware modifications.
One of the main differences between Faster Harder More Challenging Q*bert and
the original is that the flying disks on the sides of the pyramids change positions
randomly throughout the game play. There is also a bonus round after levels two and
The idea of the game is fairly simple: jump around a large pyramid with many
blocks of cubes. When you jump on a cube, the cube changes color. When all of
the cubes have changed to a specific color, you move on to the next level.
Of course, the game is not quite that easy. You must avoid several different
enemies who are out to stop you. One of those enemies is Coily, who is a large
purple snake. If Coily appears on the screen, you must be very careful as he
will chase you around the entire pyramid. If Coily is able to catch you, he will
destroy you in a "Python" type squeeze.
You will also have to deal with Wrong-Way and Uggs. They are some colorful looking
guys who bounce around the pyramid looking for you. You must also avoid the
occasional bouncing colored balls. The balls drop from the top of the screen,
and roll down the pyramid.
Sam and Slick appear later in the game. They will randomly appear on the
screen, and jump on cubes to change their color back, so you will need to jump
on them again.
You don't have any kind of weapons, per se, in this game, but you do have a few
resources for your defense. Occasionally, a green ball will roll down the pyramid.
If you can jump on the green ball, all of your enemies will stop moving for several
You also have several colored disks off to either side of the pyramid. If you jump
on a disk, it will fly up to the top of the pyramid, and drop you off on the highest
cube. If your timing is good, Coily will jump right off the pyramid as he attempts
to catch you.
There are nine levels of difficulty in Q*Bert. Each level has four different pyramids
to conquer. When you finish a pyramid, you are taken away to the next one. As you
move farther into the game, your enemies get faster & smarter.
Several early units were shipped with "@!#?@!" on the marquee instead of "Q*bert".
Part of this game's unique charm is the pure gibberish that comes out of the
machine's speech synthesizer.
There was an erroneous rumor going around that the designer of the Furby is the
original programmer of Q*bert. This is untrue. The original Q*bert arcade game
was designed and programmed by Warren Davis with graphics by Jeff Lee and sounds
by David Thiel. The designer of the Furby may have been one of the programmers of
a Q*bert conversion to a home system (such as the Atari 2600), hence the confusion.
Faster Harder More Challenging Q*bert never went into production and no dedicated
cabinets are known to exist.
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