Back to: Walter Day Conversations
8/4/2004 Chip Sbrogna Cliff Hanger
congratulated by Walter Day, Referee
The following story is Paraphrased:
Twin Galaxies: Walter Day Story at: www.twingalaxies.com
Twin Galaxies in the beginning...
Walter Day started out with one arcade. Link
The Arkansas Gazette, (February 20, 1983)
Twin Galaxies' ascent into fame was steep. It was not yet one year old when LIFE
magazine arrived to immortalize Ottumwa, IA, (its hometown) as the "video game
capital of the world." This was just the beginning. Walter Day, born on May 14, 1949
in Fairfield, Iowa has come back to his roots back in Fairfield, Iowa, after a
high school career in Southern California and a Oil Broker career in Texas, as
well as a standup comedian stint and collector of thousands of year books, he
decided to go into the lucrative arcade business.
His goal has always been to record something of significance. It has been his
lifetime achievement to find, record and mingle among the greats in the video
game industry, of those who achieved the illusive business of the illusive high score
number one spot on the leader board in chasing ghosts, centipede's and Asteroids.
Finding the players and traveling the world to visit a glimpse of these high scores
has been his dedicated life. Each score monitored, each score inputted onto
Walter Day's laptop of high scores, to be updated onto the Twin Galaxies Scoreboard.
Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard
His attire is black and white, that of a referee, and his tone is mild and
philosophical about his life's journey and how the quest has been sought and filled
and now the last chapter is coming to ink. Truly a man with a love of life and
of the games and people who he has amassed to help him with his quest, he is the
only one who could be available to record high scores since 1981 with the concentration
of a monk and the desire and attitude of a young man. This is his legacy, the
Twin Galaxies High Score Board, and as the official Guinness Book conduit to legimate
high scores which all started with one small arcade in Iowa.
However, for the first three months of its existence, Twin Galaxies was just another
arcade, enjoying quiet anonymity in a small sleepy Mid-western town. Twin Galaxies,
however, was destined to become a major figure in the video game story with its
high scoreboard, but it all started in Houston, TX.
Walter Day makes good as an Oil Broker,
Walter began as an oil broker in Texas in 1980 but it was to boring for him.
He constantly felt an urgent need to find something more exciting. The oil industry
was not the get rich oil trade that one would have hoped it to be.
In Walter Day's office of Rofheart Oil was Jon Bloch, an old-time friend who had been
his partner in a comedy routine which had been performed at a major hotel in the
Catskills during the mid-'70s. Jon was one of America's greatest comedians, and
kept Walter Day in good humor all the time, though boredom was setting in again.
Eventually, Jon would become the partner of Twin Galaxies Arcade.
Walter goes on the road for some excitement:
Walter convinced a fellow oil man, Rodger D. Beaton, to join in a get-rich-quick
idea in publishing a Who's Who directory on the petroleum oil industry.
With this idea as a good concept, Rodger D. Beaton put up the money and the idea
started to get off the ground, except for the secret passion of Rodger D. Beaton
and his video games ambitions.
Walter had heard of video games before, but had never spent money on those new
fanagled things. Pong was the big game of the day when it was released in 1972 and
finding it was very difficult. Rodger D. Beaton, however, had an ambition to be the
best ever at Space Invaders.
Iowa scores were pouring in. Tom Rhoades of Chariton, IA, gained notoriety at the
Rabbit Hutch in Des Moines, IA, when he proved evidence that he was the first person
in the nation to turn the score counter over at one million points on Defender in 1981.
By May 1982, Walter Day had become more confident about our status as the "official"
scorekeeper. It was in May that boilerplate slogans began to creep into his interviews.
Walter started cautiously with statements like: "We are the official scorekeeper
for the world of video game and pinball playing." The media loved it. They realized
they were plugged into an important source of information and were very appreciative.
Then I reeled out his all-time favorite punchline: "Twin Galaxies is the world's most
famous arcade, right here in Iowa."
Then came the Second Annual Video Game Festival at the Mall of America Link
Top Video Game World Champions with Walter Day
Dwayne Richard, Billy Mitchell, Todd Rogers, Walter Day
"If you ever need to interview any of the world champions, you'll have to call a man
named Walter Day in Ottumwa, IA, who is the official scorekeeper for video games.
You'll have to call him because he's the only person in the world who can lead you
to the champions."
Walter Day - Referee
ANOTHER of Walter Day's projects is collecting the high school yearbooks of famous
people. In an effort not to miss anyone who becomes famous in the future, he’s
trying to collect every high school yearbook published in the United States. Link
Walter Day is the world’s only electronic games referee. [Link] He runs
the Twin Galaxies Intergalactic Scoreboard—the “official scoreboard for the world of
video game and pinball playing.” As the founder of organized video game playing, Day
has judged contests and high scores submitted by arcades as far away as South Africa,
Australia, Ireland and Japan. He has written the official rule book for video game and
pinball playing sponsors two major contests every year to allow new players to enter
the Official Video Game and Pinball Book of World Records.
Is the authority that establishes the rules and standardized tournament settings
on each game!
Settles all arguments by telling you what the current high score is on almost any
game and who you have to beat to become the new world champion!
Organizes video game and pinball playing into a sport, with a tradition of
contests, statistics, world records and star players! Coordinates an
international schedule of tournaments that players can compete in to gain
entrance into this record book!
Brings credit to thousands of youth around the world who know they are the best!
Walter Day - 1982
The actual scoreboard was at Walter Day's Twin Arcade in Kirksville, MO -
and known as the Center of the Video Universe.
Walt Day, established himself and the Twin Galaxies Entertainment Centers in Kirksville
and Ottumwa, Iowa, as the official national scoreboard for video games as the first
person to record video game high scores nation wide.
His research and verification of high video game scores was the beginning to the
widely recognized national scoreboard.
Defender started it all, by Walt finding out if his player was indeed the best in
the world, he found that there was no scoreboard to go to so this began the keeping
of records for the industry.
The video game hall of fame was also to be located at the Kirksville location,
however, in the end it came to be that the Ottumwa, Iowa arcade became the name
that everyone knew as the arcade that represented on Life Magazine.
Walter Day - Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard - The Beginning
Walter Day - World Famous Ice Cream
Big Johnnie and Uncle Walter's All-American Brand Ice Cream
The Ice Cream that Made the World Famous
February 1982 - Blip Magazine interviews Walt "Walter" Day
Baseball has its batting average, its RBI's and its earned-run averages. Football
has statistics for running, passing, kicking and just about anything else that
happens on the field. Even TV is ruled by ratings numbers. Statistics are as American
as apple pie and pizza. And now statistics have burst upon the video game scene.
There's a man in Ottuma, Iowa, who keeps tabs - almost minute by minute - on high
scorers at arcade games all over the country. His name is Walt Day, and he's the
director of the Twin Galaxies Official International Scoreboard. Walt makes his
living by selling ice cream and making change at the Twin Galaxies Entertainment
Center while he's doing this, he handles phone calls from all over the U.S. The
Ask Walt the highest score ever recorded for QIX, and he'll rattle off the number
359,556. That was chalked up by Ben Goldenberg. He did it at the Silver Bowl
Arcade in Berkeley, California, on May 5, 1982.
Other record scores that Walt has verified include: February 1982
Alpine Ski 174,000
Donkey Kong 398,000
Missile Command 60,220,510
Ms. Pac-Man 130,300
Omega Race 600,700
Space Invaders 150,880
"Defender score: 15,936,100 points"
If you want to report a record, or just to find out the latest high score for a
particular game, call Walt Day at (515) 684-6421. If it's a normal day, expect
a busy signal. The day I telephoned him I was one of forty or fifty callers. So
"Qix score: 359,556 points"
Day's statistics are reported in newspapers and on television and radio. They also
appear in several video game magazines. "But by the time the magazines are published,"
he says, "the scores are out of date.
"For example, the September issue of JoyStik reported the high score for Defender to
be 33,013,200. Well, by the time the magazine hit the newsstands, that record had been
broken four or five times. It's over 50,000,000 now."
Remember Steve Juraszek? He was the young man hailed by Time magazine for setting the
all-time Defender record - 15,936,100 points. According to Walt, that isn't much of an
achievement any more. "Juraszek," he says, "is now somewhere between fiftieth and
Sixtieth on the all-time Defender list."
Walt recently supervised the construction of a huge electronic scoreboard that keeps
an up-to-the-minute account of all scoring records. There wasn't much room for the
board at Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottuma. So it was set up at another Twin Galaxies,
in Kirksville, Missouri.
But Walt considers the Ottumwa arcade to be the international high-score headquarters.
"It's hard to believe," he says, "that Ottuma, Iowa, could become the video game capital
of the world. But that's exactly what has happened.
How did Ottuma become the video game capital? How did Walt get to be a dean of high
scores? It began a couple of years ago. "One day," Walt explains, "I was working behind
the counter at Twin Galaxies. Someone playing Defender ran up a high score of about
24,000,000 points. We thought it might be an all-time record, so we started calling up
other arcades to ask. But no one seemed to know if it was the high mark.
"So we decided to call it the official record until we heard otherwise. We did the
same thing for other games. The next thing we knew, people were calling to report
other records, or to find out the record score for a particular game. We were on our
way to becoming a national institution."
Shortly after that, something else started happening. People started coming from every
part of the country just to play the games at Twin Galaxies. "We're like the Yankee
Stadium of video game arcades," Walt says. "People want to be able to say that they've
Where are the best video arcade players in America? According to Walt's figures, they're
in North Carolina or in California. "Those two states have the most record holders," he
Says. How about the greatest single scoring achievement?
As far as Walt is concerned, that distinction belongs to a handful of determined Robotron
players. Robotron is a sci-fi nightmare where the screen blazes with action. Sinistar
robots have wiped out all of humanity except for you, your parents, and your kid brother.
You must destroy the robots before they get your family. It takes hours of practice to
Train your mind to deal with the weird creatures you must face in the game.
"Recently," Walt says, "I've had reports from three or four different players who have
scores over a million points in Robotron. That means they had to play the game for 27
or 28 hours! Can you imagine playing a game like Robotron for that long? You'd be like
a wet dishrag!"
For his own enjoyment Walt prefers much gentler games. Make Trax is one of his favorites.
In that game, you're a paint brush painting a maze while two fish are chasing you. Walt
himself holds the Make Trax scoring record - a whopping 1,508,310.
"I admire kids who do well playing a particular game," Walt says. "Mastering a game
takes a lot more than just good eye-hand coordination. Understanding is just as
important. It takes a good, alert mind to beat a video game.
"And practice," Walt adds.
"Lots and lots of practice."
Promoter wants Ottumwa to go for the video game gold
Picture: Walter Day, Donn Nauert, Steve Harris and Eric Gater
Walter Day Twin Galaxies Article Large Link
The Ottumwa Courier, Thursday, December 5, 1985
Promoter wants Ottumwa to go for the video game gold by Judy Krieger, Courier staff writer
Walter Day's back to reclaim Ottumwa's fame as "Video Game Capital of he World." The Twin Galaxies
video-game arcade at 226 E. Main has reopened, and Day, its former owner, is planning he fourth annual
video Game World Championship in Ottumwa for early January.
Although Twin Galaxies closed in March 1984, Day says that world title, "the concept of which resided
in Ottumwa, continued in seed form while we were gone."
Day says he plans to invest "more time, energy and money in realizing the dream" of a national video
And part of that dream, Day says, is keeping the video game capital in Ottumwa. "It should be in an
all-American city," be says. "Not Los Angeles or New York City. We believe that this time, with a greater
financial base, the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard can survive in spite of the fact that Ottumwa
is experiencing ups and downs."
The international scoreboard, an idea started by Day, lists the record video game scores from throughout
the United States and Canada.
In its heyday, Day's Twin Galaxies and the international scoreboard attracted national attention. Crews
from ABC television's "That's Incredible" filmed the North American Video Game Olympics and parade here in
January 1983. And the arcade was featured in Life magazine and such newspapers as The Wall Street Journal
and Washington Post.
In 1984, at the same time video arcades were losing popularity nation-wide, Day closed the Ottumwa arcade
after experiencing financial losses. But he said then that he had hopes of reopening in the future.
That time has come. Twin Galaxies has been open for two weeks, following seven months of planning. It is
now owned by Bill Mitchell of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Donn Nauert, 20, of Austin, Texas, is managing the
arcade, assisted by Steve Harris, 19, of Kansas City, Mo. Both are on the official advisory board for
the January contest and members of the U.S. National Video Game Team.
Brent Walker, 19, of Austin is the arcade's operations manager, and Eric "Wide Tom" Gater, 19, an
Oskaloosa High School graduate who is now a student at Indian Hills Community College is director of
entertainment. All the arcade's employees now live in Ottumwa.
Twin Galaxies has 32 video and five pinball games. More games will be added along with food snacks
and drinks. Arcade hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday: 11 a.m. to midnight Friday;
and 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday.
Day, 36, is living in Fairfield, where he does research and writing for an Iowa City company. He
also is an assistant editor for the Guinness Book of World Records and Guinness Book of Sports Records.
"These guys have put a lot of ideas into this, too," he says, referring to the arcade's new managers.
Since he closed Twin Galaxies, Day says he lived in North Carolina and Florida promoting video game
contests. International scoreboard figures in the interim, he adds, were kept by Harris in Kansas City.
"The video game industry and public continued to recognize Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard,"
Day says. "Everybody," he adds "is pleased to be back. The national body of video game players is
pleased, too. This is their world anchor."
Day also kept up his contests during his absence.
Following the first competition covered by television in Ottumwa in 1983, the next year's contest
took place simultaneously in eight major U.S. Last year's contest was in Los Angeles and was featured
on "Entertainment Tonight" television show.
Day's 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament last June was held in nearly 30 cities and raised money for
CARE, the African Relief Fund, with half of the players' $5 entry fee going to that source. His first
annual Video Game Challenge last May was a benefit for the American Red Cross.
"We'd like to make Ottumwa the base for a lot of national benefits for charities," Day says, "Video
games are excellent fund-raising tools."
Day says he's only in charge of promotions now and "making Twin Galaxies famous" once again.
And, once again, he's full of ideas. The 1986 North American Video Game Challenge is scheduled
Jan. 4-6 at the Twin Galaxies. He's invited hundreds of players form several countries to "face off"
on 12 different games. The winner will be submitted to the 1987 editions of the Guinness records book.
"It's a wide-open contest," open to the public, he says, adding the contest is recognized by Guinness
as the only competition which crowns an international "player-of-the-year."
Also going on at the same time will be a four-player foosball contest. The record to beat is 54 3/4 hours
of play set in Victoria. British Columbia last June.
Twin Galaxies also is in charge of finding he best football forward and the best goalie of the year for
the Guinness books.
Next spring, Day says he'll invite about 50 players to compete on the video game of their choice. Each
player must keep the game going by just using one quarter, And if a player lasts 100 hours, he says,
the player will win $10,000 from a California insurance company. The winner of the Twin Galaxies Iron
Man Contest in Victoria, British Columbia last July racked up 67 ˝ hours, he adds.
Day says the official Video Game Hall of Fame will be at Twin Galaxies and recognized by Guinness and
the video game industry.
"I'm not here to make money," he says, adding that if that were so, the arcade would be in a big city.
All Day wants to do, he says, is "have some fun and do something good for the town."
1986 Guinness Book of World Records Contest Large Link
Computer Entertainment - June 1985
High Scores For Hunger
Few have done more for the arcade game industry than Walter Day, the diminutive and determined top
dog at the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard. Despite declining arcade revenues, Day's organization
is sponsoring yet another high-score shootout (the 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament) from June 28-30,
But Day has more than world records on his mind this time around: world hunger will be addressed when
players take their turns on several games (Cinematronics' Cerberus, SNK's Hal 21 and Exidy's Cheyenne).
Funds raised during these competitions will go directly to CARE's Campaign for Africa. While scoring
points for Ethiopia and other starving African nations should prove to be sufficient motivation on this
weekend, players will have the added incentive of winning free arcade games and the distinction of being
listed in the 1986 Guinness Book of World Records. Eighty-five different records will be up for grabs at
contest sites all over the country. For more information on the tournament, call: (816) 436-5785.
Twin Galaxies also recently announced its "Achievement Award" winners for 1984. They are: Nintendo's
Punch-Out (best video game), Cinematronics' Space Ace (best laserdisc game), Atari's I. Robot (most
innovative game and best visually enhanced game), Bally's Spy Hunter (best audio enhanced game), Atari
was named the "manufacturer of the year."
The 1986 Guinness Book of World Records has requested the results of this tournament for publication.
1985 Video Game Masters Tournament
June 28-30, 1985
Contest includes Competition on 85 different arcade games
CARE Twin Galaxies
Campaign For Africa
These three manufacturers have selected the following games (or game systsms) in the 1985 Video Game
Masters Tournament to raise money for Ethopia and the drought stricken nations of Africa through CARE,
the international relief and development agency
Data East USA, Inc.
Each of the highest scoring contestants during the contest on any of the three games or systems above
will win a free copy of that game. This offer void where prohibited by law.
Contact your local contest site to make a donation
For information on the contest contact:
Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard
"The Official Scoreboard for the World of Video Game and Pinball Playing"
1701 NE 65th St. Kansas City, Missouri 64118
2636 Spenard Road
Anchorage, Alaska 99503
Johnny Zee's Family Fun Center
c/o 724 Porter Road
Canada, V9A 5W6
Celebrity Sports Center
888 South Colorado Blvd.
Denver, Colorado 80222
204 Roosevelt Road
Villa Park, Illinois 60181
The Grand Prix
2919 West 13th
Wichita, KS 67203
Games people Play
7802 East 49th Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74145
Arnold's on the Avenue
3947 University Way NE
Seattle, WA 98105
Plus 18 other sites
1985 TG Video Game 3rd Annual Masters Tournament
1985 TG Video Game 3rd Annual Masters Tournament - Large Link
The 1986 Guinness Book of World Records
Has requested the results of this tournament for publication
1985 Video Game Masters Tournament
For Immediate Release
Contact: Care (Nate Adams 212 686-3110)
Twin Galaxies (Walter Day (515)472-4624)
Selection of the following family amusement center as an official contest site for the 1985
Video Game Masters Tournament and CARE Fund Raiser:
c/o Francis Scott Key Mall
5500 Buckeystown Pike
Frederick, MD 21701
ATTN: Joe Wolf
Care, the international relief and development agency and the Twin Galaxies International
Scoreboard are pleased to announce the selection of the above mentioned family arcade as
the official contest site for the 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament and Care Fund Raiser.
One of only 25 hand-picked sites in North America, this arcade will be the only contest
site in the area at which contestants can compete for listings in the Guinness Book of
To raise money for Care's Campaign for Africa, players will be donating $2.50 each to
CARE and special pre-selected contest games will be used to raise pledges from the loca
l area. Three video games: Cheyenne Gun (Exidy, Inc.), Kung-Fu Master (Data East USA, Inc),
and Cerberus (Cinematronics, Inc.) have been offered by the respective video game manufacturers
as the primary fund raising games and the prizes for the highest scores in the nation
during the event.
Appearing in Guinness for the 3rd consecutive year, the 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament
features high-score competition on the 90 most popular videos of all time. Each year,
individual arcades are selected as the "regional head quarters" for the competition and
all players must travel to these selected arcades to compete in front of qualified judges.
Special game playing rules and game settings have been devised for the competition by the
Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard and are the only "tournament settings" recognized
by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Scheduled for the weekend of June 28-30, 1985, this tournament expects to bring donations
for CARE from the entire video game and coin-operated amusement industry, Potential donors
are welcome to contact Nate Adams, at CARE, for more information.
The official magazine of the 1985 Video Game Masters Tournament
Twin Galaxies - Video Game Capital of the World
Click At Desired Graphic Text For Each Introduction
Biography Commentary Questions
Click On Below Graphic Text For Spy Hunter Introduction
Tournament and Guinness Book Results From 1983-2004
Click On Below Graphic Text For All Video High Scores thru 2004
The Golden Era
Click On Below Graphic Text For Material On The Golden Years Of Video Games 1980's
Click the Below Graphic Text to read his Conversations With Walter Day
June 9, 2004 Walter Day states, "No Replay Necessary" for Paul Dean
Find A Video Game Auction Near You
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