Ten milestones in the history of competitive gaming
Just like they play sports, most people play video games for fun. But also just like they play sports, some people play video games competitively, both professionally and in organized amateur leagues. Yes, really. All over the world, big-money tournaments take place constantly, offering the top gamers a chance to prove their skills for fame and fortune, and several organizations exist for registering top scores, regulating high-level tournaments and promoting video games as a virtual sport. Right here in Denver, the Colorado Cutthroat Connection is sponsoring a multi-game tournament this weekend at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design, offering local gamers a chance to test their mettle. To shed some light on this burgeoning field of competitive endeavor, we've compiled a list of noteworthy moments in the history of organized competitive gaming. After reading it, don't be surprised if you're struck with the desire to polish up those long neglected Pac-Man skills for a run at the world record.
1982: Twin Galaxies becomes the scorekeeper of record
You want to know who has the best score ever in Galaga? Twin Galaxies knows (it's some dude named Stephen Krogman, by the way). The Twin Galaxies arcade opened in 1981 and made history on February 9, 1982, when owner Walter Day made public his database of video-game high scores, compiled over months of traveling to every arcade he could find. If you're going to be competitive about something, someone's got to keep track of who's the best, and Twin Galaxies is still filling that role thirty years later. Even Guinness World Records recognizes Twin Galaxies as the official supplier of verified video- game records.
1982: Starcade brings competitive gaming to TV
When Starcade hit the airwaves in December 1982, it validated an entire generation's dream that playing video games competitively was a real thing. How it could not be? It was on TV! It had to be real! Sure, it was just a cheesy game show whose primary purpose was no doubt to market new video games to those impressionable youngsters, but every kid who ever saw it wanted nothing more than to get a shot to show their skills on TV, winning valuable prizes (your very own arcade game, what could be more valuable?) and proving to their parents for once and for all that video games were not a waste of time and money. Take that, dad!
1984: The first billion-point game
The early days of video-game history were all about achieving arbitrarily high scores in various single-player games, and in 1984 the arbitrarily really high threshold of 1 billion (with a B) points was achieved in the game Nibbler (a game remarkably similar to the Snake game found on millions of old cell phones). The feat was achieved at Twin Galaxies (naturally) by Tim McVey, over an almost 45-hour-long marathon game. He was recognized for his achievement by having a day named in his honor, having a feature article written about him in one of the top gaming magazines of the day, and getting a free Nibbler game of his very own.