Walter Day is joining us at the Iowa Gaming Classic
Walter Day – As the founder of Twin Galaxies, the oldest video game scorekeeping and adjudication service in history, Walter Day is known as the creator of e-sports and has often been called The Patron Saint of Video Games. His remarkable efforts to find, verify and catalog video game world records has led to a decades-long partnership with the Guinness World Records book.
Walter Aldro Day, Jr. (born May 14, 1949) is an American businessman, historian, and the founder of Twin Galaxies, an American organization that tracks video game world records and conducts a program of electronic-gaming promotions. Day is an authority on video game scorekeeping records, who in 2010 retired from the industry to pursue a career in music.
Day has had several professions and hobbies during his life, including being an oil trader, landlord, vintage-newspaper vendor, musician and video arcade owner.
After moving to the town of Fairfield, Iowa, Day sold commemorative newspapers for a living and in 1980 went to Houston, Texas, to become an oil futures trader. Discouraged, Day moved back to Fairfield and became a landlord and purchased the Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1981. After reading the January 18, 1982 issue of Time, which featured video games on its cover, Day was inspired to create an international scoreboard database. According to Day’s company web site, within six months he was receiving 50 to 75 phone calls per day from video game players around the world wanting to report their high scores. Later, Day became “known as the king of video game stats” and his scoreboard was published in Joystik and Video Games magazine every month.
Involvement with Guinness World Records
Beginning in the summer of 1983, Walter Day became the official supplier of verified video game scores to Guinness World Records. It was the first time that Guinness World Records had ever recognized video games as a valid category, citing the problems faced with the different versions of the games, the myriad of bugs, and the inability to verify video game claims through the mail. Walter Day’s organization Twin Galaxies was able to provide Guinness World Records with verified scores that were adjudicated in person during a series of annual contests held each summer during 1983-1985. David Boehm, then-publisher of Guinness World Records, named Day the Guinness ‘Assistant-Editor’ in charge of video game scores and records. The verified world records appeared in the 1984 to 1986 editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. Day closed his Ottumwa arcade in 1984 but continued his international score keeping activities through his company Twin Galaxies. Day represented Guinness World Records on July 2, 1985, in Victoria BC, Canada, when Mark Sutton was proclaimed the new world record pole-sitter after a successful 488-day stint perched atop a pole.
Day also verified competitive foosball records and conducted in 1985 the Twin Galaxies Iron Man Contest which saw 10 competitors attempt to keep a single game going for 100 hours on one quarter in hopes of winning $10,000.
In November 2004, Day joined forces with Guinness World Records science & technology editor David Hawksett at Sweden’s Dreamhack 2004 LAN event to verify a new world record on the largest number of separate computers connected in a single LAN network.
In 2008, Day’s long-time work as a video game adjudicator and eSports pioneer inspired the creation of the Guinness World Records – Gamer’s Edition.
On August 11, 2017, in Helsinki, Finland, Day took the stage during the science fiction Hugo Awards ceremonies to present a Guinness World Records citation that recognized the Hugo Awards as history’s longest-running science fiction award. This same presentation was repeated the following year as Day presented this same award again on August 16, 2018, during the 2018 Hugo Awards festivities in San Jose, California.
On October 14, 2017, Day presented a Guinness World Records citation to the Pinball Expo in Chicago, Illinois, recognizing the Pinball Expo, which was founded in 1985, as history’s longest-running pinball event.
FILM AND TV CAREER
Appearing in approximately 20 documentary films as himself, Day’s role as the first eSports pioneer has been thoroughly examined on the big screen. His historical projects using vintage newspapers, high school yearbooks, antique business cards and commemorative trading cards have also appeared on the silver screen as well as in more than 100 TV news broadcasts. A partial list of his appearances in documentary films includes: Icons (2002), Coin-Op TV (2007), Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007), The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007), Frag (2008), The Video Craze (2013), Gamer Age (2014), The King of Arcades (2015), Nintendo Quest (2015) and Man vs Snake (2015). He has also appeared on national TV shows like The Bob Braun Show (1982), ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible (1983), Entertainment Tonight (1985), PM Magazine (1987), CBS This Morning (1988), and Gary Collins’ Hour Magazine (1989).Documentary footage of Walter Day’s early video game career filmed by Lewis Wilson and John Sorflaten in 1982 and 1983 is considered the earliest known attempt to film a documentary on the burgeoning video game culture. That vintage footage was the original source material used widely throughout both Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade and The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Amateur Ragtime Piano Career
Between 1973 and the early 1980s, Day enjoyed a brief career as an amateur ragtime pianist, publicly performing in Massachusetts (Beverly and Salem), New York State (Livingstone Manor and South Fallsburg), France (Avoriaz and Le Plagne), Switzerland (Brunnen, Leysin, St. Moritz and Arosa) and Fairfield, Iowa. He was self-taught and mastered the form by memorizing the songs, a feat that often took 8 hours of practice per day. His three most prominent performances were at Salem State College Music Festival, Salem, MA, October 22, 1975, the inaugural Spring Celebration, held on the MIU Campus (now MUM) in the new Maharishi Patanjali Golden Dome of Pure Knowledge, March, 1980, and the ‘Legendary Walter Day Plays Ragtime’ concert at the Barhydt Chapel, MUM Campus, Fairfield, Iowa, April 13, 1980.