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The Evener
06-12-2020 at 07:09 AM
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Need Help With Crowd-sourcing the history of Pole Position's 67,310 WR

Good morning fellow netizens,

There’s a few exciting stories I’m following in the world of all things Pole Position, a 1980s arcade classic from Namco, but more famously associated in North America with Atari (since it distributed the game in the territory). If you were standing in a quiet arcade on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1983, you’ll remember that famous “attract mode” sound of the “do - do - do - dah” starting of the race.


Given this interest my interest in these stories, I started getting up to speed on the history of competition on this title. When I started hanging out in arcade forums years ago, I had heard in passing mentions of an "extra car" and a score variously described as "unbeatable." Now that I was following a few things in the scene, it was time to do some basic research and get the actual details straight in my head.

At the videoparadise-sanjose website, there’s info about the Video Paradise arcade, Wayne, and the two friendly Pole Position rivals, Les Lagier and Mike Klug. There’s a newspaper article that was scanned and put on-line from the weekend where Les got his WR, which took place under the auspices of the 1984 Video Game Masters Tournament, organized/sponsored by Walter Day & Twin Galaxies. The article was about the competition weekend, but before Les secured his WR.

The big thing about the Video Game Masters Tournament was that the results were promised to be published in Guinness. I had a Guinness edition checked out at the Internet Archive, so I browsed my loans. I actually had the 1986 edition, but I checked and there was an entry for Pole Position - Les Lagier at 67,260. Then I went over to Mark Alpiger’s page to confirm what was published in the 1985 Guinness edition given that’s where the result of the 1984 VGMT would be first published - Les with 67,260. But when I looked at the TG leaderboard later on, I saw that Les’ score was 67,310.

So I go back to Guinness and look through the 1985 to 1987 editions, I review the 1986 VGMT manual, which outlines the “threshold score” that a player must beat to potentially qualify for publication in Guinness. The threshold score is based on the results of past VGMT tournaments, so if a player can’t beat the threshold score from one year, it’s carried over into the next year. The threshold score for the 1986 competition was also 67,260.

I do find a 310 score in the 1998 edition of the TG record book, and I see two entries for PP - Les and MIke, with 67,310 and 67,260 respectively.

But where does the 67,310 score come from? Can anyone point me to a source that describes the genesis of this score? Based on the contemporaneously published sources, Les got 67,260 in 1984, which points to the 310 score happening after the last VGMT as one explanation. When Walter was tabulating scores for the 1998 edition and people were potentially being contacted to recall events from 10-12 years prior, we didn’t have the Internet to scan copies of the VGMT rules or Guinness editions, so I can see how details may have been blurred.

I did come across a few threads at CAGDC and KLOV, but I didn’t read any posts that pointed to the circumstances of the 310 score. As I can’t think of any more research avenues to explore, I wanted to turn it over to the TG community to crowd-source. Thanks in advance.

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  1. redelf's Avatar

    You might be able to get Mike to respond but Les is very elusive. Neither will show their play or play in public. Most think they are hiding something or played on a prototype or unreleased version of the game.

    Until Daniel came along I was in that mindset. When Daniel got the first video of a 67k performance it changed my mind again, and I've also talked many times with Mike and that has also changed my mind. I still go back and forth with it though and I'm still trying to find out what we modern gamer's are missing.

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  2. Fly's Avatar

    Not playing for hours on end, day in and day out like when we were kids is a huge missing element.

    Hec

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  3. The Evener's Avatar

    Quote Originally Posted by redelf

    You might be able to get Mike to respond but Les is very elusive. Neither will show their play or play in public. Most think they are hiding something or played on a prototype or unreleased version of the game.

    Until Daniel came along I was in that mindset. When Daniel got the first video of a 67k performance it changed my mind again, and I've also talked many times with Mike and that has also changed my mind. I still go back and forth with it though and I'm still trying to find out what we modern gamer's are missing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fly

    Not playing for hours on end, day in and day out like when we were kids is a huge missing element.

    Hec

    Thanks guys. I agree Fly that the ability to spend hours at a time playing a game we love is a missing ingredient for modern quests involving us older kids. And absolutely, redelf, Dan's recent achievements on PP in hitting 67k on video has really made a mark.

    As part of a story I'm working on, the history of competition on Pole Position would naturally be a feature. But that history isn't straightforward given the sources I reviewed, so I'm not in a position to proceed with a single account at this juncture.

    In reference to 67,260 or 67,310, as you both know this wasn't a discrepency that I "uncovered" by spending long countless hours conducting research using obscure source materials - I simply looked at the 1985 Guinness Record book which contained all the top scores from the 1984 VGMT tournament, and then looked at the TG current leaderboard. They cite two different scores as the PP world record apparently achieved at the same event credited to the same player. In that way, the conflict between these two scores is unavoidable.

    I couldn't find any sources from the 1980s that credited Les with a score of 67,310, or that acknowledged or addressed an apparent conflict with the 67,260 score. After more review, I see that these questions were also raised by Mark Alpiger at CAGDC several years ago, but Wayne C weighed in at various times, sometimes with different accounts of what he saw during that weekend.

    In the absence of 1980s sources that cite the 67,310 score, is anyone aware of any interviews or forum posts with Les or Mike where they speak to their recollection of 1984 VGMT weekend in their own words, or address what Guinness reported as Les' score versus what ended up in the 1998 TG record book?

    It's possible that Les or Mike might disagree with elements of the general account authored by others of the "four days in San Jose" that has grown up around their scores - accounts that I think were generally in good faith but as far as I can tell weren't directly based on forum or interview statements from Les and Mike.

    If there are coordinates I can reach Les or Mike, please feel free to let me know via PM if you can share, or perhaps if you can act as an intermediary in sharing questions.

    Updated 06-14-2020 at 08:45 PM by The Evener
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