Twin Galaxies is an American organization that tracks video game world records and conducts a program of electronic-gaming promotions. It operates the Twin Galaxies website and publishes the Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, with the Arcade Volume released on June 2, 2007. The Guinness World Records – Gamers Edition 2008 was released in March, 2008 in conjunction with Twin Galaxies, who Guinness World Records considers to be the official supplier of verified world records to the annual volume.
During the summer of 1981, Walter Day, founder of Twin Galaxies incorporated , visited more than 100 video game arcades over four months, recording the high scores that he found on each game. On November 10, he opened his own arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, naming it Twin Galaxies. On February 9, 1982, his database of records was released publicly as the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard.
Twin Galaxies became known as the official scoreboard, arranging contests between top players. Twin Galaxies’ first event attracted international media attention for gathering the first teams of video-game stars. Top players in North Carolina and California were formed into state teams that faced off in a “California Challenges North Carolina All-Star Playoff”, playing on 17 different games in Lakewood, California, and Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. California defeated North Carolina 10–7 over the weekend of August 27–30, 1982.
Similar competitions were also conducted during the summers of 1983 and 1984 when Day organized the players in many U.S. states to form teams and compete in high score contests for the Guinness Book of World Records. The states included California, North Carolina, Washington, Illinois, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, Idaho, Florida, New York, Oklahoma, Alaska, Iowa and Kansas.
On November 30, 1982, Ottumwa mayor Jerry Parker declared the town “Video Game Capital of the World”, a claim that was backed up by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Atari and the Amusement Game Manufacturers Association in a ceremony at Twin Galaxies on March 19, 1983.
Twin Galaxies’ status as the official scorekeeper was further enhanced by support from the major video-game publications of the early 1980s. Beginning in the summer of 1982, Video Games magazine and Joystik magazine published full-page high-score charts taken from Twin Galaxies’ data. These high-score tables were published during the entire lives of these magazines. Additional high-score charts also appeared in Videogiochi (Milan, Italy), Computer Games, Video Game Player magazine and Electronic Fun magazine. Twin Galaxies’ high-score charts also appeared in USA Today (April 22, 1983), Games magazine and was distributed sporadically in 1982 and 1983 by the Knight-Ridder news service as an occasional news feature, originating from the Charlotte Observer.
Twin Galaxies brought top players together on November 7, 1982, to be photographed by Life magazine. This photo session is the subject of a recent documentary film, Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade, which was screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. On January 8–9, 1983, Twin Galaxies organized the first significant video-game championship, to crown a world champion. This event was filmed in Ottumwa by ABC-TV’s That’s Incredible! and was aired on the night of February 21, 1983.
In March 1983, Twin Galaxies was contracted by the Electronic Circus to assemble a professional troupe of video game superstars who would travel with the Circus as an “act.” With Walter Day hired as the “Circus Ringmaster”, Twin Galaxies supplied a squad of 15 world-record holders on Twin Galaxies’ high-score tables. Though the Circus was scheduled to visit 40 cities in North America, its Boston inaugural performance, opening in the Bayside Exposition Ctr. on July 15, 1983, lasted only five days, closing on July 19. The players selected by Twin Galaxies for the Circus are believed to be history’s first professionally contracted video game players.
On July 25, 1983, Twin Galaxies established the professional U.S. National Video Game Team, the first such, with Walter Day as team captain. The USNVGT toured the United States during the summer of 1983 in a 44-foot GMC bus filled with arcade games, appearing at arcades around the nation and conducting the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament, the results of which were published in the 1984 U.S. edition of Guinness World Records. Under the direction of Day, functioning as an assistant editor for the Guinness Book in charge of video-game scores, the USNVGT gathered annual contest results that were published in the 1984—1986 U.S. editions. In September 1983, the USNVGT visited the Italian and Japanese Embassies in Washington D.C. to issue challenges for an international video game championship. In 1987, the USNVGT toured Europe where it defeated a team of UK video game superstars. Every month between 1991 and 1994, the U.S. publication Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM), published a full-page high-score table titled “The U.S. National Video Game Team’s International Scoreboard”.
On February 8, 1998, Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records (ISBN 978-1-887472-25-8) was published. It is a 984-page book containing scores compiled since 1981. The second edition is planned as a two-volume set, with the first volume containing arcade, MAME, Novelty and pinball scores released on June 1, 2007.