• Ottumwa, Iowa Celebrates 32nd-year as "Video Game Capital of the World" by Re-enacting Famous 1982 LIFE Magazine photograph


    OTTUMWA, IOWA - AUGUST 4, 2014 -- On Sunday, August 3rd, the citizens of Ottumwa, Iowa Celebrated the City's 32nd-year as the "Video Game Capital of the World" by re-enacting a famous 1982 LIFE Magazine photograph.

    There was no way he could miss the opportunity of a lifetime, so William McEvoy, flew to Iowa at his own expense from his hometown of Ottawa, ON, Canada to volunteer his services as the official photographer of a photograph that commemorated Ottumwa, Iowa's unique legacy as the "Video Game Capital of the World."

    McEvoy says: "When I heard they were going to re-enact the legendary LIFE Magazine photograph from 1982 that honored the video game superstars of the "Golden Age of Video Game Arcades" -- the picture that helped put Ottumwa on the world map as the 'video capital,' I knew I had to be there and take the photo. It was a dream come true."
    The original photo was taken outside the landmark Twin Galaxies Arcade at 8:00 AM, on Sunday, November 7, 1982, on East Main Street, in Ottumwa, Iowa, by famed LIFE Magazine photographer Enrico Ferorelli. Some video game historians today considered the photo the most recognizable picture in the history of the video game industry.

    The 1982 photo was published as a two-page centerfold in LIFE's January, 1983 issue - the "1982 Year-In-Review" edition -- and included 16 superstar V.I.P video game players along with five members of Ottumwa High School's cheerleading squad. For this modern remake of the classic photoshoot, three of the original video gamers (Billy Mitchell, of Hollywood, FL; Steve Sanders of Kansas City, MO and Joel West, of Gastonia, NC) appeared in the picture along with one of the original cheerleaders, Tracey Groy, now of Phoenix, Arizona.

    The re-enactment photo included 16 members of the current OHS cheerleading squad along with over 75 other individuals who came from as far away as Tallahassee, Florida; Winnipeg, MB, Canada; Hillsboro, Oregon; Center Barnstead, NH and Minden, Louisiana. For the gathering, Ottumwa City officials barricaded East Main Street and Mayor Tom Lazio personally gave the proceedings the blessings of City Hall by appearing in the photograph, as seen on the far right of the photo.

    The nation's video game players have been actively supporting Ottumwa's quest to create the official International Video Game Hall of Fame & Museum during recent years. The inspiration for the photo re-enactment was to generate more public and civic support for the project.

    Ottumwa's claim to video game royalty stems back to the early 1980s when the city was the home of the famous Twin Galaxies Arcade -- famous as the "scorekeeper" for the worldwide video game industry. On November 30, 1982, then-Mayor Jerry Parker proclaimed Ottumwa to be the "Video Game Capital of the World," a claim that was later reconfirmed by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Atari and the Amusement Game Manufacturers Association (AGMA).

    Ottumwa continues to enjoy its unique legacy as "the birthplace of organized video game playing" and hopes to develop themed tourist attractions in the city which capitalize on its remarkable video game heritage.

    For more information, contact Walter Day at 641-472-1949. For photo permissions, contact William McEvoy at william.mcevoy@gmail.com. For reproduction permissions for the 1982 photograph, contact Enrico Ferorelli at enrico@ferorelli.com.
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    1. Jace Hall's Avatar
      Jace Hall -
      I really wish I could have been at the event!

      Looks like people had a good time. :)
    1. 1500points's Avatar
      1500points -
      Your ears were prolly itchin' as you were there in spirit and referenced many times in discussions. The Mayor of Ottumwa is eager to begin dialogue with you about how TG fits the Iowa part of the story.

      Thanks for being such a supporter of the Wide World of Walter.
    1. A Former Member's Avatar
      A Former Member -
      Wonderful photo. Just beautiful.
    1. sprinter461's Avatar
      sprinter461 -
      I really wish I could have been at the event!

      Looks like people had a good time. :)
      It was a blast. Wish you would of been there. The past, meeting the present. Looking forward to THAT day...maybe next year?
    1. datagod's Avatar
      datagod -
      Jace, it was unbelievable. The Giant wall of cards was both inspiring and intimidating at the same time. I was alone in the room with it, and I felt like it was watching me like the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. I need to collect my thoughts and write a blog entry about my experience. Walter was right. This was not about high scores, it was about bringing people together for community and friendship. The photos I posted yesterday (well, today at 4:00am) were very rough first drafts, just wanted to get something up for people to see. The final versions will likely be ready by the end of the week. I take my time working with the raw images, this is an important event and I want the photos to do it justice.
    1. 1500points's Avatar
      1500points -
      Spoiler alert- If you look in the bottom left corner you will see the secret identity of the "official NAMCO Pac-man" and her father. They are very big supporters of this whole thing, and have a long friendship with Twin Galaxies the entity. The doors on whatever the future of this industry is are wide open for Jace to do greatness with it.
    1. ~Elle's Avatar
      ~Elle -
      It was such an honor to be included in this photo! I feel blessed beyond words to consider many of these amazing people friends!
      Events like these energize the spirits, strengthen the bonds of friendship and camaraderie of every individual whom is lucky enough to attend.
    1. Tfried4048's Avatar
      Tfried4048 -
      Sorry I missed the photo. I was run down from all the excitement of the weekend. Had to
      Hit the road back to Chicago. It was a weekend to remember.
    1. GIV's Avatar
      GIV -
      Data, I don't understand how you can come all the way to Ottumwa, have us all in the frame of your camera, and then take one single photo!

      Proud to have been there in the historic moment. What an honor!
    1. Megamatt79's Avatar
      Megamatt79 -
      The entire weekend's worth of festivities were beyond phenomenal! I left feeling reinvigorated and inspired!

      The photo sums it all up quite well. An amazing collection of wonderful folks who I now have the privilege of calling friends!
    1. 1500points's Avatar
      1500points -
      well George, I'm just chagrined and happy that the Defender marquee didn't mystically change into the Polybius effect, which surrounds you. Oh btw, for your never ending quest on the road of gaming truth, the founder of the Polybius project was in the ICON for about 30 minutes. Stood right behind you at one point.....and you never even noticed.
    1. GIV's Avatar
      GIV -
      I did get some photos with the Polybius machine and Walter, but we left the machine out of the main photo. I know how important recreating the original was for you, Mark, and didn't want to spoil it.

      I know they were there. I saw them coming in my morning meditation that day.
    1. timmell's Avatar
      timmell -
      It was a amazing time. Can't wait to talk about it Friday night.
    1. datagod's Avatar
      datagod -
      Spoiler alert- If you look in the bottom left corner you will see the secret identity of the "official NAMCO Pac-man" and her father. They are very big supporters of this whole thing, and have a long friendship with Twin Galaxies the entity. The doors on whatever the future of this industry is are wide open for Jace to do greatness with it.
      Haha! Thanks for the information. I knew inside was a girl, but did not realize I saw her without the suit.
    1. marinomitch13's Avatar
      marinomitch13 -
      George, why were you and Richie looking to the left?
    1. datagod's Avatar
      datagod -
      Nevermind.
    1. 1500points's Avatar
      1500points -
      you didn't see it because they didn't do it.....The Polybius effect shifts that marquee into place when needed. has something to do with that newfangled quantum physics stuff with the entanglement or spins or cats in boxes....i've already said too much.
    1. GIV's Avatar
      GIV -
      Mitch, we were looking to the left because Richie thought he saw something moving in the abandoned shop and said to me to look, so I was trying to scootch forward to see over there.

      Data, I know you took many many photos this past weekend. I'm talking about when you had us all there in Ottumwa, this photo. You snapped one, and I said to Billy, "did he just take one picture and that's it?" And he noticed it as well, it isn't just me. He said something about it and then you said "ok, now I'm going to take a panoramic view" or something to that effect, clicked three more times and that was it!
    1. GIV's Avatar
      GIV -
      I see that Mark Hoff knows much more about the organization than I realized. And isn't he the guy who set up the first Twin Galaxies database in the early eighties for Walter at the original arcade? He seems to be involved behind the scenes with everything, yet he's just a simple iowa country boy. He's friends with Jarvis. How come I didn't see this before. I'm on to you now.
    1. GIV's Avatar
      GIV -
      Data I'm just annoyed that the photo that made the papers has me still climbing up onto the game and not looking at the camera. Damn Polybius and their mysterious distractions.
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