Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007) Movie Script

Have you ever had
a kind of dream
where you're so awake
in the dream,
you're not sure if
you're really awake or asleep?
You ever had that kind of dream?
I once had a dream
where this weird creature
walked through the wall
and says, "quick, who wrote the
famous novel by Herman Melville",
and what was the author's name?"
And I go, "ooh, don't tell me."
I know; It's on the tip
of my tongue."
I don't know where it came from,
but it's such
a complicated answer.
Associated Press, this is Nicole.
Is Matt there?
Matt Slagle, Matt Otero,
or Matt Curry?
Oh, it's for Matt Slagle.
Okay, just a second.
Thank you.
When you have finished
you may hang up or press one
for more options.
So, Matt, this is Walter Day
calling back from Twin Galaxies
about the Pac-man
25th anniversary story.
In 1981, the arcade scene
was very big.
Twin Galaxies opened up
on November 10, 1981.
It was an absolute
magical place.
It seemed to be so free
of worries
and just so full of happiness
and excitement.
We've gained a lot of notoriety
and the reputation
for being the video gaming
capital of the world.
We used to refer to it as
the dodge city of video games,
because that's the place
where all the fast guns
would congregate.
We had all the classics.
We had Wizard of Wor...
Donkey Kong, Missile Command,
Space Invaders, Tempest,
Gorf, Asteroids,
TRON, Joust,
Burgertime, Pac-man,
Centipede, Berzerk,
Dragon's Lair, Star Wars,
Frogger, Galaga,
Something like Eagle.
There were several games
that sucked.
I could spot an arcade
a mile away.
Before I could drive,
I was walking to the arcade.
It was sort of like
my second home in a way.
You didn't know what to expect.
You'd walk in,
and there was always a chance
there would be a new game
out there.
The game would arrive,
and yet you'd have, like,
people stacked up and lined up
waiting to play.
But, yeah, it was packed.
You could not get on that game.
There was a line
out to the door.
You could find a video game
And it was just a different era.
Then the opportunity suddenly
popped up.
A kid named Steve Joraszek
played Defender
nonstop on one quarter and
ended up with 23 million points.
So I called up
Williams Electronics in Chicago
and asked them
if this was a world record.
And they said, "we don't know."
So I offered to keep track
of the scores for the industry.
For some crazy reason
of divine fate,
they all said, "yeah."
When anybody calls about scores,
we're gonna send them to you"
send your playing techniques
or high scores
to the international scoreboard
in Ottumwa.
I was the official scorekeeper
for the video game industry.
Here are the top finalists.
Within months, we were getting
30, 40, 50 phone calls a day.
And so I called out
to Ottumwa, Iowa,
and talked to these people.
And we ended up
calling up Walter.
I contacted Walter.
Walter put together
the only infrastructure
that serious video game players
could even become attracted to.
There was nobody else
trying to do this.
Walter was the only person.
I remember talking to him
on the phone.
I think you just called him.
And I called the phone number,
and Walter answered.
Walter. Walter.
Walter. Walter Day.
I looked at the scoreboard,
and I saw that there were
some people
who were just obviously
What I found out was, though,
was that I wasn't just
the best player in my arcade.
I was one of the best players
in the country.
Well, in the back seat,
we have the entire spare boards
and the entire board system
from my Berzerk machine.
And, uh,
we can play some Berzerk.
That's the whole key right here
is to play some Berzerk.
My dad worked two jobs
most of the time
to make a living.
He went to one baseball game
in my entire life when I was
about 11 years old.
And I still remember that game.
Our team lost,
but my dad was there, you know.
He died in march of '78.
He died of a heart attack.
He died in my arms.
I tried CPR on him,
and he just didn't make it.
It really devastated me.
And I was just very lonely,
seeking things that didn't
have any direction.
And one day I walked into
the underground arcade
in Shelby, North Carolina.
There was these two guys
in business suits over there
playing a game called Berzerk.
What a winner does is,
they find something
that they can do well,
and they just do it over
and over and over.
And that's where you get
your specialist at.
Well, I became a specialist
in Berzerk.
In Berzerk, you are a humanoid.
And you are just running through
this very simple maze,
and there are these robots
who don't like it.
What happens is,
a lot of robots appear
on the screen.
And you can't move
your humanoid,
and they're shooting at you.
And you just got to pray
that joystick will kick in.
Intruder alert.
Kill the humanoid.
There's also a Nemesis,
evil Otto,
it's a stop sign,
stop sign smiley face.
And if he pounces on you,
he kills you.
When somebody smiles
and yet wants to kill you,
that is the ultimate in...
He was a maniac.
Kill the humanoid.
Stop the intruder.
In the game of Berzerk,
there are 64,000
room combinations.
Well, no one had figured
that out yet.
I mapped out every room,
every combination.
I was on the top,
but if you don't have someone
to help you go even higher,
you wane.
I was a chemical engineer,
mostly in the lithium industry.
I was laid off from work
in 1982.
And Ron Bailey would prove to be
an interesting fellow to me.
His major interest in his life
was ham radio.
I thought he'd have, you know,
a little box sitting
on the table.
This guy had rooms
full of stuff.
I have a motto.
"Nothing in moderation."
He had a tower that was
over 90 foot high
that you could actually
walk up a ladder on.
Destroy the intruder.
Kill the humanoid.
I didn't know this guy was
a closet Berzerk player.
He made me feel good
because of the fact
that someone older
was having an interest in me.
Boys, even if you're
a boy at 22,
you need encouragement
from older fellas.
We knew as the two of us,
we could beat everybody
in the world.
When you play a video game,
there are days when you're
playing the game,
and it's fighting you.
Then there are days when you
and the game become one.
At some point in time,
I felt as if I could get inside
the machine mentally.
You're fluid.
You're focused.
You're with the game.
You're right there with it,
and everything is right.
There's nothing that's wrong.
And you can even hear
what's going on outside
of your realm.
You're so focused.
There's nothing.
It is almost like
a spiritual experience.
I've had spiritual experiences,
and it's a very
similar feeling...
When you're playing that game,
and you're totally focused,
and you're totally one
with that game.
It's a unity,
and it's just like
a spiritual experience.
When it's right, it's right.
The name that I used to go by
when I was playing video games
in my past life
was Darren Olson.
When my mom and dad
got divorced,
it had been something that...
We always wanted
to change our name.
There was a show
we used to watch on TV
called Remington Steele.
Pierce Bronson, was it?
I'm trying to remember it.
I think he was a detective.
And that's actually where
I picked up the name Steele.
He could just play Centipede
and maneuver a track ball
in a way that should not
have been able to be done.
He's been demonstrating tonight
his unique approach
to playing Centipede,
which is to clear off the bottom
part of the screen
and then live for as long
as possible while the Centipede
continues to go around.
He was what I considered
the best player in the world
in video games, period.
He was just someone that even
champions just chose to idolize.
And Kent was another one.
Kent was just as good
as Darren was.
I probably had world records on
games like Stargate,
Centipede maybe at one point.
Donkey Kong Jr., Robotron.
We would actually beat
each other's scores at one time.
And we didn't know each other.
That was Kent.
Probably Space Invaders
that I met him.
It would have been in
around there,
'cause there was somebody else
that was getting some
high scores on this game,
and, you know, I'm in there
playing the same game.
And, you know, of course,
the next thing you know,
we're trying to compete against
each other.
Games, you know,
before that were pretty simple
with just a couple, you know,
the character you control,
and here's a couple enemies
you can play with.
And here's 55 enemies
coming at you, you know.
That was different
than playing Pong
or Breakout
or any of the other games.
And of a sudden,
here you were protecting earth.
You could store your high score.
So other people could,
like, come in and try
to beat your high score.
That was kind of a new...
I mean, that was a new idea
at the time.
Originally, we used to have
separate initials.
And then finally we teamed up
and go,
"let's just decide on one."
I think one day somebody called
us "whiz kids" or something,
so we go,
"okay, what can we use?"
We used W-I-Z.
'Cause you're only allowed
three initials.
We'd go on one game,
play two players,
and just fill up
the top five scores, ten scores.
It was all "WIZ."
Nobody else would have their
initials in there.
And everybody wanted to know
who WIZ was.
People were asking us,
"you know, who's WIZ?"
And we would go,
"I don't know who he is."
This really applied in the game
track and field.
Some people that would just hit
the buttons
really hard like this, right,
and make a lot of noise.
The next thing, there's this
thing called the double flap,
which we used in joust
all the time.
Did you do the double flap?
'Cause you can't hit it
as fast this way
as you can
with two fingers going.
The would do, like,
two fingers on each button.
Oh, I do remember
the pencil trick.
They would balance a pencil
between the two run buttons
and sort of, like, toggle it.
By the pressure pushing down
on the pencil,
it flicks back very quickly.
That's really cool that somebody
actually adapted
the use of a pencil
to play a video game.
That's rare.
That takes a genius.
After that, we started thinking
and going,
"oh, I grab my mom's electric
knife, right?"
I haven't heard of that.
Where the blade stuck in,
it actually moved
just like my double flap did.
That's amazing.
The first time we tried it,
"Oh, okay."
But I had the dimmer switch
on it.
We had it going too fast.
So we turned it down.
The next thing you know,
we're jumping six feet.
We're jumping eight feet.
Turn it up, and we found
the perfect spot.
We're just blowing away.
That blows me away.
And there's initials,
"WIZ" again.
So I was like,
"who are these guys," you know.
Then we went and decided
to conquer Calgary.
Let's take on every game
in every 7-Eleven, every arcade.
Let's go beat every high score.
Everybody wanted to be better
than everybody else.
Everybody wanted to showcase.
To use a sports analogy,
these are the all-pro guys.
You could walk in,
and you could be the biggest,
strongest guy in the place.
Well, if you couldn't play
a video game,
you were nothing.
He smoked everybody else.
We would essentially dominate
the game.
'Cause we would win almost every
tournament we went to.
I'm the best there is
in the world.
There's all these video game
players that have egos
the size of cathedrals.
I couldn't accept the fact
that a computer's programmed
to beat me.
I used to go and play a game
to destroy the game.
I could walk into
a strange arcade
and step up to a game,
and I could have half an arcade
full of people around watching.
It's not just, like,
the best person at your arcade.
You would actually be
the best person ever.
They were just, like, in awe
of what you're doing, right?
Every game has a weakness.
You've got to be ready.
You've got to shoot quick.
A t-shirt is a big part of it.
If you don't have a t-shirt,
you're nobody.
They'd all backed out of the way
with their line of quarters
and let us play
so they could watch.
That's just the way it was.
You can go from shit to god
for a quarter.
That's incredible.
That's... no,
these guys are unbelievable.
To an arcade owner,
I am their worst nightmare.
I go in there and spend
a quarter and last all day long.
They're at a level where people
can't hardly see
what's going on.
"Look at that move.
That's amazing."
People just have to stop.
They'd just come by.
"Whoa, man.
Good heavens."
Boom, baby.
That's how you play Donkey Kong.
The regular circulation of the
magazine is like 1 1/2 million.
That's paid circulation,
so the readership had got to be
at about 4 million.
I was a reporter
at life magazine at the time.
It was, like, 1982.
And we were trying to come up
with pictures
that would be good to capture
the culture of the year.
Walter called me up and said,
"we're having all of the best
"from around the country come,
and life magazine's gonna be
there to shoot the picture."
We didn't know what to expect.
We don't know
who's gonna be there.
We don't know if we're just
getting buffaloed
into something.
"Hey, you want to go to Iowa?"
And I'm like, "where?"
We're kids.
We don't really care.
We're gonna go, you know.
We're gonna see the world.
It was pretty exciting.
There was people from all over.
It was California, Florida,
I think one guy was from Alaska.
Well, actually, I flew out
with two friends of mine.
And I thought we were gonna land
in a cornfield in Ottumwa.
I was in a 1972 Ford LTD.
When I went through Cincinnati,
I went over that big bridge
coming in from Kentucky,
and it horrified me.
Poor little North Carolina boy
had never been anywhere.
I borrowed my mom's car.
They were coming down
from Canada
and that that was
a possible swoop
that they could pick me up.
It was an old Toronado.
It was not easy to sleep
in the company
of these two guys.
I didn't know if we were gonna
get there or not.
We got there, and it was
a pretty small town.
I have never seen a city
so square.
You pull in to Ottumwa, Iowa,
I don't know what it was
at the time,
20,000 or something.
It was a little hick town,
The highway map for Iowa
is like this.
If he hit it over the wall,
it would have been
just another accomplishment.
What made it different was,
he pointed at the wall.
Well, that's what I was out
to do then.
And it was risky.
Billy Mitchell, video game
player of the century.
It's rather simple.
If you want to get
a perfect game, you walk up.
You put your quarter in.
You press start.
You eat every dot.
You eat every prize,
every energizer.
And on every energizer,
you've got to get all four guys
every time.
If you miss a guy, you're done.
If you miss a prize,
you're done.
If you miss anything,
you're done.
You die one time, you're done.
Just to give you an idea,
watch how fast they turn back.
And you got to get all four.
256 boards over many,
many hours,
never dying once,
never missing a point.
I had all kinds of people,
"oh, you can't do it.
"Oh, no one's ever done that.
"There's no way you can do that.
Bet you you can't."
I'd say, "don't bet your life."
Sorry, I'm just
showing off here.
Bill Mitchell is the Jerry Rice
or the Michael Jordan
of all video game players.
Man, he's phenomenal.
Very loud, very outspoken,
very confrontational.
And one of the lines
he would always say to me is,
"Steve, when I met you,
I was but the learner.
But now I am the master."
And I turned around.
I stopped playing for a moment,
and I looked at Bill Mitchell,
and I said,
"fuck you, Bill Mitchell.
Fuck you."
Mr. Nakamoto, he's the father
of Pac-man,
he presented me with an award
for Pac-man
for having done the world's
first perfect game.
So sometimes
when I'm with someone,
"oh, you think you know more
about the games
than the people who made them?"
Um, yeah, they told me I do.
It's a very interesting
to see the whole video game
hobby become so big
that there are now stars
like Billy.
I'd be lying to you
if I told you it wasn't fun.
I'd be lying to you
if I told you didn't enjoy it.
Look at him.
He sticks out like a sore thumb.
He's got... what is this?
What do they call that,
that hairdo?
Business up front,
party in the back.
He has this hairdo
like a country western singer.
What do they call those?
Short on top and long in back?
Ah, that's a mullet.
A mullet?
That's called a mullet.
The mullet.
Mullets rock.
So he's very, very noticeable.
Walter will say Billy Mitchell
is the most famous
video game player.
And I tend to disagree with that
to a point.
There's a lot of jealousy
with this video game stuff.
I mean, these guys
who play video games,
I mean, let's face it.
I mean, they couldn't get laid
in a whorehouse with a handful
of hundred dollar bills.
My name is Roy Shildt.
I'm the world champion of
Missile Command,
1,695,265 points,
which I achieved in 1985.
The prestige of Missile Command
is a lot greater,
because it's a macho game.
You know, it's Missile Command.
It has a lot of paramilitary
It has a lot of phallic
association associated with it,
just like a missile is like
a penis, you know.
It's kind of like there's a lot
of penis envy involved.
Of course I was famous.
You know, he goes around saying
he's the world's most famous
video game player,
like people are walking up
to him all the time
recognizing him.
I said, "well, it's probably
the hookers on Park Avenue."
You know.
I wouldn't play a candy-ass game
like Pac-man.
That's for girls and chumps.
The guys who play Pac-man
are not very talented.
They can't handle games like
Missile Command
or any of the real tough games.
Those games are more popular
because they're easier to play.
The games like Missile Command
are not that popular,
because they're really hard
to master,
and it takes a lot of skill
to play them.
And track balls are a lot harder
to control than a joystick.
And there's three buttons,
three different missile bases,
and missiles that travel
at different speeds.
The Missile Command record
is a super record,
and his records are mediocre.
One great record is worth
20 mediocre records,
as far as I'm concerned.
That's why I refer to him
as Silly Bitchell,
because he really is nothing
but a silly bitch.
Billy Mitchell broke my score.
Oh, sorry.
Todd Rogers, I mean,
that guy is so high on himself.
You can't even talk to him.
There's a number of players out
there that are insanely jealous,
which I won't mention names,
of Billy's achievements.
How would you like it
if you worked that hard
to achieve something
and some jackass came along
and tried to say it was fake?
You know, I never threatened
Walter Day,
but he thinks I did.
I tried to call him after that,
and he says,
"I can't talk to you.
My attorney says
not to talk to you."
And he hangs the phone up.
Well, I had my attorney
send Walter Day a letter
saying, "you better
tell the truth about my score",
"or else we're gonna file
an injunction against you,
go in to court,
and all this other stuff."
And the truth is Bill Mitchell
doesn't have any talent,
and he's not a great player.
He's completely full of shit.
The Missile Command score
is a genuine achievement.
And that's gonna be
the truth of it,
and he knows it.
Is that why I'm fighting so hard
to hold on to
the Missile Command score?
Because it makes me special.
It gives me recognition.
Of course I want to keep it.
I don't want someone to say
it was fake or...
I mean, it's kind of obvious,
isn't it?
Is that really a question
that needs to be asked?
Well, life magazine
has come to town to photograph
early on this Sunday morning
at 7:30
the downtown main street.
Life magazine has come to town...
So that Life magazine
could come to town...
Life magazine has come...
Life magazine...
Give me a break.
And so that's when
I first met Walter.
I had not met him at all
before I actually went out
for that photo shoot.
I was impressed by his charisma
and his bizarrity.
He definitely reminded me
a little bit of gene Wilder.
Walter Day is a product
of the Berkeley era of the '60s.
He's a renaissance man.
He's a big dreamer,
always coming up
with great plans and dreams.
I had 50 million business cards,
the king of the card collectors.
I used to do
genealogical research
and all sorts
of historical research.
He was an oil broker.
I'd be on the telephone
speaking to conoco.
"Oh, you want 20,000 barrels
of 2 oil?"
He sold old newspapers.
And I have 7 million newspapers.
They weigh about
a thousand tons.
One more step into eccentric
probably wouldn't be
functioning in society.
You keep them in a dark place.
Try not to fold them,
and keep them flat.
Walter's in the house.
Well, it's that time of year
when we're getting all
the champions lined up.
I thought he was a guy
who belonged onstage
dancing around a bunch
of video games
with a microphone.
For me, video games
were pulling out the sword,
getting on the horse, and
leading the army into battle,
fighting, battle,
winning, rivalry, warfare.
Video games were fighting
and winning.
He was just that edge of, like,
"I could sell snow to Eskimos"
kind of thing.
We were the most famous
video game arcade in the world,
so the mayor went along with it.
I proclaimed Ottumwa the video
game capital of the world,
and we just challenge anybody
to prove that we're wrong.
And then a little bit later,
the governor of Iowa
came and confirmed it
by announcing that Iowa
officially recognized
Ottumwa as the video game
capital of the world.
That's amazing
what he pulled off.
Yeah, 'cause there's no
Internet back then,
no mass communication.
You know, outside
of the local arcade,
you didn't know across the city
if there's somebody better
than you.
Just the sense, the feel,
the electricity
in Twin Galaxies, Ottumwa,
that Walter brought to that,
instantly you felt
that there's someone
who really cared about
video game players,
about high scores.
You could feel that.
And at that point,
everything was great.
Here we have my 11-inch
She was eating a dead squirrel.
At the end of three days,
the squirrel didn't have
a head or an arm.
I got stung by a bee
when I was four years old.
My way of getting back
at the bee
was throwing bees
in a spider's web.
I got some critters for you
to take a look at.
I'll bring 'em in there.
Oh, wow.
They got big.
This is the USA Flea Market,
one of the flea markets in
central Florida that I frequent.
How you doing?
It's a little off-center here.
Hang on,
I've got the glasses there.
There you go.
And how.
And there's a few shops
that I stop at in here
to purchase either lizard
or spider food.
I probably have
40 different large ones,
and total overall,
maybe 200 total in my closet.
Oh, yeah.
Oh, yeah, both of them.
There's a variety of ones.
I have Goliath bird spiders
that range
from 8 inches to 10 1/2.
Baby pink toe, south American
birch spider
about the size of your little
pinky fingernail.
Spiders have eight eyes,
eight legs,
and they live 25 to 40 years,
hear your heartbeat
30 feet away.
We tried mating and putting
those males with her.
That was a joke.
She came out... "rrr."
Oh, no; Oh, no.
Wow, it's hot in here.
17-year-old Todd Rogers is,
well, a video game freak.
The young man from Chicago
got the bug at 14
and now,
by almost anyone's definition,
might well be considered
one of the world champions
in home video competition.
Oh, Barnstorming,
you have to fly over windmills
and through a barn
and avoiding geese.
Every time you tap that stick,
it's 0.30 of a second that's
counted off on your time.
I, of course, want to be
the best at what I do.
If I'm gonna fly a perfect game,
what's the bare minimum
that you can get on a game?
The tape marks the top
of the windmill.
And then the second set of tape
marks the very top
of the bottom
inside of the barn.
I had set 32.50 on it in front
of three Twin Galaxies referees
and about 30 people.
I have over 2,000 high scores.
the king of video games,
Mr. Activision.
A lot of companies look to have
talented gamers
promote their products.
"Well, why don't you do
a show for us?
"We're gonna fly you in,
gonna pay your hotel.
We're gonna feed you."
And in my case, feeding me,
oh, that's worth its weight
in gold, you know.
What could be better in life
than a 64-ounce Pepsi
and a piece of pizza
and all the video games
you could play?
A few years ago,
I tried to recreate a German
enigma cipher machine,
one of the first machine
encipherment things
that was used by the Germans
in World War II.
I draw a lot of pleasure
from solving problems.
I had a girlfriend one time.
I was an introvert
with a broken heart.
My one true love in my life
at that time
was a girl named
Kimberly Fennel.
She broke up with me.
Heart was completely broken.
And so I had all this time.
And so what's gonna
fill the void?
All the time you would spend
with a girlfriend
I was spending with video games.
Battlezone, it was the game
that I was the best at,
because I was very,
very aggressive
in my style to that game.
Most folks, when the tanks,
the super tanks or the missiles
would come at you,
they would back up so they'd
have more time to shoot.
But I figured out the rhythm
of how they all moved,
so I would always go forward.
Like Patton, right?
Patton had one standing order.
Always attack.
If you're concentrating on
missiles coming to shoot you,
you're not really wondering
where your ex-girlfriend is now.
So I tried to go for the
Robotron world record.
But I only lasted, like,
25 hours.
I played frenzied
for 24 hours and five minutes.
For me, 36 hours,
that was brutal.
41 hours; That was brutal.
42 hours.
48 hours.
60 hours straight.
I think it was
68 hours straight.
I started on a Saturday
and ended up on a Tuesday.
I could be here
until Monday morning,
but I have to go back to work.
I had played, like,
Asteroids for something like
I don't know,
eight days or something.
Eventually the game gives out
or you give out.
The only breaks I would take
would be to run to the bathroom.
You want to hydrate yourself,
but you don't want to get
to the point where,
"oh, my god, I got to make mud."
It gets to a certain point where
the average person will wither.
They just cannot take
the intensity.
It's too fast
at the highest levels.
My name is Robert Mruczek.
I am the chief referee
for the Twin Galaxies
intergalactic scoreboard.
I've been chief referee
for the last four years.
I've been gaming since 1969.
As a referee for Twin Galaxies,
it's my responsibilities,
as quickly as I can, pending,
of course, my own availability,
to watch these performances,
authenticate and make sure
they're done
at the correct settings,
and then when they are,
to enter them into
the Twin Galaxies database.
I know the tournament settings
and the marathon settings
in the back of my head.
I'm familiar with
the world record holders,
what the scores are.
I have video tapes, and I have
a few CD-ROMs and DVDs.
The longest performance
is Nibbler.
It's an expected
30-to 40-hour performance.
I've seen or witnessed
more than 20,000 video tapes
or world record scores
over the last 4 1/2 years.
I almost don't sleep.
I go to sleep between
3:30 and 5:00
in the morning weekdays.
There are days when I do 24-hour
stretches doing nothing
but watching games
on top of my regular job,
which is accounting,
which I do 60 to 70 hours
a week.
This is my 22-pound cat, Rusty.
He helps me watch my video tape
submissions sometimes
by keeping me company while
I'm watching a tape.
a world's record performance
is the ultimate satisfaction,
seeing the game taken where
no one else has been able
to take it before.
I think it is the single best
job I could possible have.
It doesn't pay anything,
but as far as for what a gamer
likes to do, this is it.
It's not easy,
but I get it done.
Welcome to
Video Game News Update.
I'm Walter Day
of the Twin Galaxies
international scoreboard.
Imagine playing a video game
for 36 1/2 hours on one quarter.
That's how Leo Daniels
of North Carolina
earned a world record score of
169 million points on Robotron.
Leo was a gaming genius.
He's very bright and brilliant.
He was Mr. Video games.
He had lightning-fast reflexes.
It was just insane to watch him
in some of these games.
It wasn't long until Leo had
records on multiple games.
I didn't really start playing
the video games
until Asteroids came out.
I went down to...
It was Kure Beach Pier.
There was a little, like,
putt-putt golf course thing.
And so I went back there,
and there was this short little
guy with dark hair and glasses.
You know, kind of roped off
from everybody else.
And I remember just seeing all
these ships he had.
He would leave one asteroid
and then fly from the bottom
to the top of the screen
and then just kill the little
saucers for 300 points.
And then it got me thinking,
"wow, he outsmarted the game."
The people you hang around
really reflects on you.
If you want to be
somebody successful,
surround yourself
with successful people.
Some people get married,
and they let that be the end
where it should be
a new beginning.
They, you know,
get a humdrum job
that they don't like
going in to.
And they let that interfere
with their marriage.
That wouldn't be fun for me.
I'm still doing the interview.
I told you I'd call
when they were through.
She has the most super
of anybody I've ever met,
out of any woman.
I mean, look at this face.
She smiles all the time,
which makes me smile
all the time.
There's a lot of stuff.
He's met a lot of people.
But that's cool.
He's the type of person
that always has an angle
on something going somewhere.
Everything that he did
in a video game,
not cheating, but, again, like,
what we always used to do is
go around the original rules
of the game
as the programmers
had thought of it to get ahead.
And I think Leo does
the same kind of thing
in real life too.
I don't know.
Some folks never grow up.
Maybe they're just like
the whole Peter Pan thing,
stuck in a video game.
I continue to play games
not just because
it's a part of my past.
Because it's a part of me.
I grew up with them.
You know, I don't feel my age.
I don't think
I act my age at all.
I think age is just a number.
This was the first time
video game players
on this level had ever met.
It was the first time in my life
I met people at my level.
And suddenly, I could not be
the best at every video game.
Okay, these guys were too good.
I hope in the near future to be
one of the very top players,
between first and third
for video games.
When Joel and I met today,
we challenged each other.
We can go right through
It's totally amazing.
It's just totally amazing.
It really made me look at
the way I play my game.
And it was fun.
It was humbling too,
'cause they were better
than I was.
As all the other players
have seen you play
say that you are possibly one of
the best players
they've ever seen.
We were just sort of,
in a sense, brothers.
I think Steve Sanders
is probably
the most outgoing player.
He was really into
his Donkey Kong.
Steve has set over
3 million points on Donkey Kong,
which is an extremely high score
for that game.
That is at once
a very proud moment for me
and a very shameful,
embarrassing moment for me.
And I'll tell you why.
Lord, forgive us.
We're hypocrites.
We're just like those Pharisees.
Help us to be Jesus
to the world.
Help us to take his kindness
and compassion to everyone.
We pray it for the sake
of Jesus and in his name.
Thank you all.
When I was 17, 18 years old,
I had these license plates.
He was trying to be famous
or whatever,
which he was for a while.
You know, he got a book deal
out of it.
Unlike most people
who have heard about
Twin Galaxies
either in a magazine
or on the radio,
I heard about it
when I was writing a book
called the video master's
guide to Donkey Kong.
When I was playing Donkey Kong,
invariably, some kid would go,
"man, you must have read
the book."
And my buddy would say,
"he wrote the book."
Well, I guess
I had the attitude,
particularly on Donkey Kong,
that nobody could beat me,
And I wouldn't tolerate anybody
telling me they could.
By the time I knew
that I was right
was when I was at Life magazine.
It was very interesting
at that time.
In fact, I remember back,
like, you know,
somebody would be getting close
to a record,
and it was like everybody would
almost stop.
Boy, how could this guy get
3 million points at Donkey Kong?
Like, I'm having trouble getting
6,000 or 7,000 points.
In front of what we'd believed
was the 20 best players
in the world,
I played him a game of
Donkey Kong.
He got 190,000 in his game.
After watching him
not being able
to get over 250,000
to 300,000 points,
which was 10% of his score
that he claimed to have...
I got 849,000 points
on my first guy.
That was the end
of the questions.
And I just felt like the wind
had been taken out of my sails.
I felt sucker punched.
I forever put him in his place.
My game play absolutely
intimidated him.
In the spring of 1982,
Walter came out
with a poster of high scores.
When my score of 450,000
was reported
as having been beaten
by somebody,
I think from Leo Daniels'
I should have said,
"Walter, I'll believe it
when I see it."
What I did instead was, I lied.
When I discovered players
were cheating,
I was absolutely dumbfounded.
I was silly enough to submit
that to Walter Day,
and he was silly enough
to print that.
And that score got in the
guinness book of world records.
I was floored,
'cause I thought he was the,
you know,
the Donkey Kong master.
Some people, if they're good
at selling used cars,
and they can lie
straight to somebody's face
and feel good about it...
Some people can do that.
The letter reads, "dear friends",
to some of you, this letter
will be rather shocking news."
But he sent everybody a letter
saying that,
"look, I exaggerated my scores.
This wasn't true."
I am very sorry and very ashamed
of this whole ordeal.
"I have hurt Walter, Bill,
and Darren by my lies."
That kind of got me mad.
It never occurred to me that
somebody could do that.
I didn't like him much.
"My sincerest apologies
to you all, Steve Sanders."
That was a hard letter to write,
but after I wrote it,
I felt like the weight
of the world
was lifted off my shoulders.
By God's grace,
that event in my life,
it is sort of a signpost,
a midnight star to guide
my direction now.
Twin Galaxies
with the champions here,
I think it was... made Ottumwa
kind of famous, kind of.
We were like celebrities there.
You know,
here's this small town,
and all of a sudden you've got
these guys coming.
The day we got there
and went to the arcade,
they had to get us in
a side door,
'cause the arcade was
overflowing with people.
A lot of the guys
were out there partying.
I mean, I was...
Maybe I was too much of a nerd.
They had a 19-year-old
drinking age,
so we were able to...
Or maybe it was 18.
It might have been 18 back then.
I remember the cheerleaders.
They were from
the Ottumwa high school.
We went up and introduced
ourselves, started talking,
and then we ended up
spending some time together.
I'd never seen groupies before.
That was pretty exciting.
There were actually video game
We'd have groupies
hanging around us.
Yeah, there were groupies.
It's pretty weird,
'cause Ottumwa doesn't seem like
a very big town,
but now it is.
I was shocked and thrilled,
because I'm a goddess
Just like there's
the Grateful Dead Deadheads
who follow the group around.
I'm married right now.
I potentially have a very
jealous wife,
so I don't know if I can really
go down that road.
Everybody said, "oh, Ben, I'll
bet you had girls after you."
Not really.
I was just fortunate that people
could look at me and,
you know, not throw up.
To me, that was not as much
of a social occasion
as perhaps it could have been.
I was never that coordinated
at sports.
As I've always enjoyed
watching sports,
but I was never that good
at playing.
And I think when it came
to video games,
I was good at them.
And it was, you know, one of the
first things I found
that I was, you know,
able to excel at.
And so that's probably
what drew me to it.
The first one was Frogger.
I played and actually
beat the score
that was listed on Walter Day's
record list.
His hands were so cool,
and his head was so cool,
whereas I would be gripping
ferociously to the joystick
trying to will it around.
And so with Frogger,
and again, my style was
not to just go as fast as I can
and get to the home.
My style was, take my time.
If the traffic gets a little
too busy at the front,
back up and start over again.
You know, there was enough time
for me to be patient,
make sure I do it right,
and to not worry about going
as fast as possible.
He reminds me of a gunslinger
who's got a cool hand,
almost like
a Clint Eastwood movie.
First of all,
it involves a lot of time
and particularly patience.
I'm very organized,
a very organized person.
If I go on a trip, you know,
I follow my list
of what to bring.
Back then I always kept track of
my own personal top five songs.
My number one song is
Play That Funky Music.
Three song is Ballroom Blitz,
Hammer, back when he was called
MC Hammer,
some of the Tone-loc songs,
Wild Thing, you know,
Funky Cold Medina.
I work really hard
when I do work.
And so when I come home,
I'd like to be able to sit down
in my recliner
and just think about not much.
You know, even as a little kid,
I liked to do things
in a logical way.
You know, Mr. Spock
was one of my idols.
And so I think for me, you know,
it fit with my personality
of having patience
and persistence.
Let me read this letter to you.
I think this is one of
the funniest letters.
"I would like to enquire
about my name in video games
"under the heading
of high scores.
"My personal high score
on Q-Bert is 287,000 points.
"I noticed you do not have
a listing for Q-Bert.
"I was wondering if this is
"because you have not received
word of any high scores.
"Also, do I need to have this
high score made official,
"and how do I do it?
I would appreciate you giving me
this information."
And it says,
"your score isn't high enough
to qualify as number one.
"Presently, Ben Gold of Dallas
has that honor
with 17,899,325 points."
I thought that was really funny.
Today on
the video game challenge,
expert players share
their winning secrets
and the championship match
between the world's highest
scoring players on Millipede.
Video games are sweeping
the world,
and the revolution
is just beginning.
Practicing for this contest,
I was going at it about
eight to ten hours a day
every day
during Christmas break.
He was somebody that I always
thought, under pressure,
was one of the toughest guys
to beat.
He played in a Millipede contest
against Eric Ginner.
Are the players ready?
All right, for the World
Championship of Millipede,
three, two, one, shoot.
Eric was ahead of Ben,
and Ben was on his last guy.
And he just wasn't
gonna let Eric win.
And on that one last guy
that he had...
It looks like Ben Gold may be
in trouble in the high 800s.
He went 80,000 points.
And our winner is Ben Gold.
Eric, thank you very much
for a terrific game.
Sorry it didn't turn out better.
And, Ben, you're the world
champion Millipede shooter.
Here's the Millipede machine
that I won on
in that competition.
June 23, 1983: 892,304 points.
When young Ben Gold decides
to take on a video game,
he takes it on seriously.
At 16, he has mastered
some of the most complex games
in the world.
Mythology surrounded Ben
in what he did.
The rumors were,
"hey, I heard that Ben
"had this special gurney made
where he can lean back and still
be able to work the controls."
Even rumored
that he would go into
a semi kind of sleep.
Other guys would be talking
smack or something,
and he would just get up
and say, "no, you're wrong"
and then show them.
What am I gonna do, walk around,
you know,
"hey, I am the cool and groovy,
you know, video game master.
Do you want to touch me?"
I thought he was
the coolest guy ever.
At that point in time,
I was flying blind.
I didn't know what could
possibly come out of this.
We got up there very early
in the morning.
And for a while
it was kind of cold.
And for a while
it was kind of dark,
but then the sun began
to come up.
Well, we were in the street.
They wanted to avoid traffic,
not that there was much
in Ottumwa.
But more importantly is, I think
where the sun was rising,
they didn't want
to catch the sun...
Or Life magazine was really
in how they wanted to do...
This is the best sunlight
for the picture.
We were supposed to be there at
sunrise or something ridiculous.
Whenever we were there,
it was freezing.
I mean, the saying, if you're
from California,
anything that's 50 degrees
or less,
you wear your down jacket.
For me, that was true.
Boy, you know, I felt cold
wearing my down jacket.
And I saw these cheerleaders
wearing their short skirts.
I thought,
"they must be freezing."
I always wondered why Walter
didn't want to get
in the picture.
The kids shouted for me
to get in the photograph,
and I said,
"no, no, this is your glory.
I'll stand here and watch it."
Life magazine
was quite incredible.
I mean, as far as those players,
we just thought that was
the best thing in the world.
Oh, yeah, it was
an idyllic dream for them.
This is one of their biggest
fantasy moments in their life.
Video game VIPs.
I'd walk in the arcade.
People knew who I was.
They saw these tournaments.
They saw the TV shows.
They saw the Life magazine.
It was a big deal.
I would walk in supermarkets.
"Oh, you're Ben Gold."
Everywhere they went, people
poured attention on them.
Girls fell in love with them.
Adventures happened to them.
I personally don't know
anyone else
who's been in Life magazine.
I just remember a few things.
God, I haven't looked at that
picture in a long time.
And if I had to do it
all over again,
I would have been in
the photograph
with my game in the lineup too,
which would have been Make Trax,
which I was
the world champion of.
For video games, this is the
of the Sgt. Pepper's album.
I had no idea
what this was gonna mean.
All I knew is I was having fun.
This was excitement.
It was something no other arcade
probably has equaled since.
You need to be still.
Wait a second.
When somebody comes along
that is good and challenges you,
that's iron sharpening iron.
It goes back to taking an ax
and sharpening it
against a piece of iron.
That's the only way it's gonna
become better, sharper.
And what Ron Bailey did for me,
he sharpened me.
I hate to call him
a father figure
if he doesn't want
to be called that,
but he was a good mentor.
For some reason, I was eating
breakfast up here in Shelby.
And I walked in,
and there sat Joel.
He came in,
and I was having breakfast.
I had met someone for breakfast,
a young lady I was trying
to impress, you know.
Hadn't seen him in a while.
And he came off very arrogant
and very braggadocios
and told me, he said,
"I just beat your world record."
He was real upset.
There's some things
you don't do.
You don't put a man down
in front of his girl.
And I have not seen him
since that day.
I haven't talked to him
in over 20 years.
I didn't know
if he was still around.
I was told he was in Gastonia.
Probably less than 30 miles.
It's amazing.
That's why I say it's so
bizarre, some of the episodes.
I would put such great
on these kind of things,
and they'd stick
in your mind like this but...
They say I'm gonna meet him
And I look forward to that.
I figure we'll go in,
and we'll trash talk
a little bit
and get down to some playing
and see if the camaraderie
is still there
or if the competitiveness has
made us, you know,
rivals or something.
The power is coming on
once I turn it on,
but the screen is cycling,
but it's not wanting to come on.
Ron's an engineer.
He's a ham radio operator,
so I figure he would have more
in doing something like this.
And since maybe we're gonna
battle anyway,
maybe our two machines
can become one
or something after 20 years.
It's gonna be interesting
to see him,
you know, you have this picture
of someone in your mind,
how they looked 20,
22 years ago.
I'm the age now that he was
the last time I saw him.
It's gonna be interesting.
That's the house,
'cause there's the radio towers.
The first time Chris and I met
I was playing Ms. Pac-man,
and he was looking over
my shoulder.
I finished five boards.
He says, "wow."
He sat down next to me.
He put a quarter in, and bang.
He had 776,000
on the first shot.
It's in your DNA.
You have it, or you don't.
He is every reason why I am
the video game champion.
Everything I've done
I owe to him.
If I hadn't met him,
if we hadn't pushed each other,
I would not have achieved
what I've achieved,
similar to Mark McGwire
and Sammy Sosa
in the home run derby.
This pattern
is called tunnel terror.
It's called that because it's
considered the safest pattern.
It's 56 seconds long,
and 28 of the 56 seconds,
the three priority monsters
are in the tunnel.
As long as you're in the tunnel,
they can't do you any harm.
That's exactly one half
of the maze.
They get put in the tunnel here,
and they just continually
get pushed back and forth.
The only reason they're let out
of the tunnel
for any period of time
is when we have to get the key
in the center of the screen.
The key in the center
of the screen we need
simply 'cause
we need the points.
Otherwise we just keep them
locked in the tunnel.
So we got the key,
and now we're gonna
send them back in the tunnel.
Again, they spend their life
in the tunnel.
That was close.
Well, I started playing
Missile Command
because it was put into the
lobby of my student dorm
at the university co-op at UCLA,
'cause when people were playing
video games,
they say, "oh, you're awesome."
And I was kind of like...
And all of a sudden,
some girl pinched me on the ass
and called me Mr. Awesome.
And it kind of, like, stuck on.
So I liked it after that.
It's like a psychological escape
place for me.
It's where I pretend
I'm king of the world,
you know, who can get
any chick that he wants,
and he's a video game stud.
And he walks down the street,
and everyone
wants his autograph.
I mean, everybody
wants to be famous.
I mean, everybody
wants to be somebody special.
I mean, you know,
unless they're walking around
without a pair of balls, I mean.
This book is in fact
the most important
literary accomplishment
in American history,
because it reveals the truth
about success in America today.
You know, America is a country
of immigrants,
and immigrants is what make
this country great.
The most successful immigrant
this country has ever had
is in fact
Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The Mr. Awesome program
is kind of like an expose
on exactly the footsteps that
Arnold used to be successful.
And not many people
really notice.
I mean, I don't have any direct
proof of it,
but he made his entire fortune
as a drug dealer
and a prostitute.
Yeah, I'm being serious.
All these players will be on
That's Incredible.
In Life magazine,
they did announce there was
gonna be this competition.
And whoever wins gets to go on
That's Incredible!
You may not ultimately win.
If you're in the top three,
you get to go on
That's Incredible!
Like, whatever.
That's Incredible!
Was incredible.
It was a great show.
When I was asked to go to the
That's Incredible tournament,
it was the highlight
of my career.
People outside looking in
through the windows,
watching all of us.
I was wearing a hooded
gray sweatshirt,
and I'm looking in as if, like,
you know,
it's like the coolest thing
in the world.
Ottumwa teens have spent
about a thousand hours
since Christmas building
a computer network
that made Twin Galaxies
a marvel of high tech.
On your mark.
Get set.
Oh, it was very intense.
People were very focused.
People were very serious
about the competition.
I wanted so much to do well
and get on the actual stage
TV show.
It's really easy
to mess the tournament up.
You either qualified
in one of those three places,
or you went home.
The games were set on their hard
setting, and one chance.
It was so close
that no one knew who had won
except me.
After all five games
being completed,
here are the top finalists.
Ben Gold.
Well, I thought I was doomed
right before the Frogger.
But then everyone choked.
Darren Olson, Todd Walker.
In Iowa I was first.
Darren came in second,
and I came in third.
That's Incredible!
I remember going to the studio.
That was real fun.
We got to eat with the stars,
Cathy Lee Crosby, John Davidson,
Fran Tarkenton
right at our table,
right across from us.
There was either four or five
games that were on stage.
This game is called Burgertime.
The pickles,
there was, like, an egg
that would run around
and chase...
Yeah, he'd throw salt.
Or, no, no, he throws pepper
at the various food items
that are chasing him
in order to shock them
and make them sort of, like,
stop for a little while
so he has a little more time
to go and do the burger making.
I had never played before.
And both Ben and Todd had.
And I remember approaching them
and asking them,
"can you guys just show me a
little bit something on there?"
And both of them say,
"absolutely not.
It's Canada against the U.S."
Let's welcome Darren Olson from
Calgary, Alberta, in Canada;
Todd Walker, from Milpitas,
And Ben Gold, from Dallas,
There was an audience.
And we did it, like,
a live filming.
On your mark.
Get set.
It was really intense.
There was no sense
of friendship.
It was... everybody was an enemy.
Todd was the best player.
You know,
and at that point in time,
he was the best player
in all of the U.S.
I had to perform at my peak
and had to have some people
perform below their peaks
in order to win
this competition.
I misfired on a Burgertime.
I think it was
a salt or pepper shaker
or something, you know.
Todd's about to make a costly
The pepper's
in the wrong direction,
and loses the chef.
Is every gold medalist the best
player in their sport?
Maybe not.
But in that one moment in time,
they were the best.
He's got it.
Anybody could have won any day.
Darren was just as good.
It would have made
no difference.
I ended up getting through it.
But I ended up
getting third place
instead of what I was hoping for
was a first.
I know how a famous person
feels, because, like,
"click, click, click,
click, click,"
you know, a hundred flashes in,
you know, in ten seconds,
just the entire place
just flashing pictures.
I mean,
anytime that I did anything
in the video game world,
it was like,
"world champion Ben Gold,
blah, blah, blah, blah."
I'm like, "yeah, whatever."
In February of '83,
the phone rang.
And it was a man from a company
called meeting planners,
which was in Boston.
His name was Jim Reilly,
and explained to me that he had
stayed up all night
thinking about this creative
for doing an electronic circus.
Almost like
a video game theme park
in different cities
around the country.
Like the big car shows
that go from city to city.
I would be the ring master,
and my superstars would be
an actual circus act.
People could and challenge
the video game players,
try to beat us
on our world records
or at least have fun trying,
They were gonna start paying us
to play.
It was easy to think it would
be like a sport.
Playing video games
for a living?
Going from town to town
playing video games.
It was kind of like a dream job.
And then when somebody actually
put us on a plane
and flew us to Boston,
"well, maybe this could be."
Boston ruled.
And they had hundreds, like,
500 games.
The battle of the superstars,
video game champions
from across the United States
compete daily
to set new high scores.
They had different little
theme areas,
so if they'd have, like, say,
Donkey Kong,
we'd be, like, in a jungle room.
Plus they were gonna have
rock bands there.
Air supply was there.
If I remember right,
we had a curfew.
And we had beer cans and stuff
stacked all up.
But, I mean, like, they would,
drop firecrackers in the toilet.
I remember them saying that if,
you know,
if we do anything like that,
we're kicked off.
And within our contract it
specifically stated
how it was we had to conduct
ourselves with groupies.
It was kind of crazy.
We were all, you know,
late-teen boys.
It was kind of typical, I guess.
"Therefore, I, Kevin H. White,
urge the citizens of Boston
to recognize
this special occasion."
They didn't.
Very few people showed up.
It didn't last much more
than five days.
And it was very obvious.
That first day,
then the second day, nobody.
So they literally just closed
everything down.
They told us we were gonna have
to pay for our own ticket home,
and they were gonna take it
out of our pay.
So it got kind of crummy
at that point.
That was the one that really
just literally
just kind of crushed
all my dreams.
I think partly 'cause of,
whatever, naivety of the age
but also because it was
a brand-new thing,
and nobody knew
what it would become.
My entire career as a
professional video game player,
it mostly was about hopes
and dreams and plans.
It never was about
any real money.
And who knows why each thing
would crash and burn?
But we're still moving forward,
and I'm still putting foot
in front of foot
in front of foot,
and I accept the whole fun
on the level
of the adventure it is.
We both share the same passion
for the industry.
And we certainly both share
the same passion for history
and that history
is worth preserving.
Here in Washington, we're gonna
go to the Library of Congress.
'Cause they have magazines like
Play Meter and Vending Times
and Cashbox and Billboard
that have
all these historic moments.
The whole history of video games
are there.
"Newspaper urges pinball
to describe bagatelle."
This is right at the beginning
when they first started using
the word "pinball."
We're the first people to
revisit the long,
glorious history
of electronic gaming,
just like you find happening
to the history of the NFL
or the history of the NHL
or baseball history.
It's bigger than movies.
It's bigger than music.
It's the biggest business
in America.
It's only gonna continue
to grow.
It grows each and every year.
So not to capture the history
of that would be sinful.
There's no way our book could go
to press without coming here
and going page by page
in all these magazines,
not knowing where we were gonna
find the story,
but just looking for them
and getting all that stuff
that would finish
our book of records.
I often feel guilt
that I'm out going and doing
this video game stuff
when I know that it would really
be much more beneficial
to the world having a music
career and writing my novels.
That's right, it's popcorn.
Yeah, we were under the gun
four times last year
with the hurricanes
that had gone through.
And, oh, look at that.
The last year it rained so hard,
when the wind kicked up,
it blew the carport back
like a tuna can.
It looks like shit.
They sell you the stuff.
And I would like
to program some some day
and make people...
When they see my games...
They're going to buy them
just as much as they buy
these cartridges.
So you want to get in
the business then, huh?
And play my own games
if I make any.
Yeah, yeah, you got some ideas?
I got a few.
I don't know.
I don't know.
I really don't know
where it went downhill.
Alls I know is,
the magazine went belly-up.
I stopped receiving money
from them.
The joysticks that I endorsed,
they only came out
with three or four joysticks.
You know, I had to improvise.
I had to do other work besides
playing video games.
It was fun while it lasted.
Game, reality,
two different things.
My wife was having people
live in my house.
She had 15 different people.
I'm not paying a mortgage
for people to live in my house.
The car that I had was a Neon,
which was a real piece of shit,
'cause I got laid off.
And six months later on,
I was in an auto wreck.
Broke my clavicle.
And I was spitting out my teeth.
"Oh, it's raining,
but it's red."
Flatlined for 28 seconds.
Shock paddled me back to life.
You know, I lost my brother.
He drowned.
After our house burnt,
my dog got ran over
by a squad car.
Lost a wife.
She overdosed.
Holy Christmas.
I feel like one of those
country western songs.
Just don't play it back.
I don't need it, you know?
It's done.
And my late wife knew nothing
of my video past.
I just told them
absolutely zilch.
I didn't think it was important,
because I was in
an abusive relationship.
I mean, she'd get drunk.
You know,
they love you one minute,
"get the fuck out," the next.
Who the hell wants to hear
shit like that?
So I figured, "anything
that's important to me",
"anything that makes me happy,
she's not gonna know about it,
"because she'll use it against
me and throw it out,
burn it, sell it, whatever."
Then after she died,
I have no more leash
over my head.
I don't have to explain myself
to anyone.
If myself is unwinding
and playing video games,
playing with spiders,
or looking at spiders,
feeding the spiders,
then that's me, you know.
It's something to get your mind
off of what's wrong,
because you know
once the game is done,
you have to go back
to the sad reality
of what your life
is at that point
if it's bad or good.
Oh, this is my room, and this is
where I sleep on the floor.
I usually have my blankets
arranged here
so I'm in the middle
so I don't bump into anything.
As you can tell,
I have quite a bit of fans,
'cause I like air
being blown on me
when I'm sleeping
to be comfortable.
I think video games has offered
me the opportunity to shine out
amongst other people and say,
"hey, I have a niche in life."
It's actually brought me
out of being a nobody.
You know,
you'd ask the general public,
they probably wouldn't know me
from shit from Shinola,
but in the video gaming world,
I'm somebody.
Oh, my gosh.
I'm twice the size I used to be.
This is unreal.
I thought I recognized
your voice.
Sit down.
I was just headed uptown
to do some errands here.
But you're welcome to stay
a while.
What have you been doing
with yourself?
Well, gained a little weight.
Yeah, well, me too.
I don't usually keep grudges
or anything.
Life took us
in different directions.
When I met Ron Bailey in that
video game arcade that day
and he showed interest
in what I was doing,
I felt important again.
You know, how important
in the overall picture of life
is him learning how
to play Berzerk
versus the guidance he gave me
that, you know,
helped me make better decisions?
Well, probably not much,
but it's what he wanted
at the time.
Now, this guy in Florida who...
Don't get me started.
Who took the record,
well, I've issued
a challenge to him
that he needs to play one of us,
because what I have said
is simply this,
that the man,
if you could call him that
because of what he did,
the man broke the spirit
of the game.
Chris has a strategy he uses
which is known as
the box pattern.
It loops around so you can go
from grid one, two, three,
and four and back again.
The robots will always be
in the same starting positions.
We respected the game enough
not to do that,
because we felt that that was
not in the spirit of the game.
I think maybe he was
a little bit shocked that...
Not that his score got beaten,
but that it got beaten by such
a tremendous amount, double.
He has the top score on paper,
but he's not a better Berzerk
player than I am.
So you're gonna see
it's the same four boards
over and over again.
That is not a Berzerk player.
That's a monkey.
You can teach a monkey how to
play a certain number of rooms.
But you cannot teach a man how
to play Berzerk.
Ready for me to plug it in?
All right.
All right, there we go.
Look out.
Whoa, look out.
It's trying to cycle.
It is?
My finger's getting sore.
Well, we're gonna see right here
if we have a vision
of high scores.
Well, don't expect me...
The fact of the matter
is that, you know,
if they dropped a bomb
here right now,
the two best Berzerk players
in the world would be gone.
That's true.
I don't necessarily like to talk
about this,
'cause it makes me really sad.
And Moon Patrol
was the first game that,
like, you could put a quarter
in and continue your game.
You could continue on
at the level you just left.
And that was an incentive
to keep on playing that game.
He who has a machine
that can get
more people sticking
quarters in,
those are the ones
that are gonna make money.
I felt like it was
kind of cheating
when you put another quarter in,
because, really, the whole
concept to me
of playing these early games
was to see how far you could go
on one credit.
So that's how a lot of the kids
were setting the high scores.
They just keep throwing
quarters in.
That to me is like,
the richest person,
the one with the most quarters
is going to get
the highest score.
Somebody tells me today they got
a high score on a game, I say,
"yeah, how much
did it cost you?"
Arcade video games had really
already started the decline.
I mean, you could already tell
that it was waning,
because fewer and fewer people
were going to the arcade.
'Cause the games in the arcades
started to suck.
The games that were there
were not the games
I wanted to play anymore.
Graphics were nice,
but the game play itself?
It's pretty hard
to control here.
They started, in my opinion,
losing their creativity
on creating truly new ideas.
Like when Street Fighter games
where suddenly you've got these
lizard head lions
with fangs, you know, going...
One guy facing the other guy
in profile
and just going at it.
You know, who wants to see
an Egyptian lion's head
go against a ghost or something?
You're, like, going,
"this is stupid."
I think some of the older gamers
are still stuck back
in the '80s.
With those games instantly
came a different crowd.
I don't think you understand.
It's my turn.
Some gang members,
punk people that were coming in,
and they were causing trouble
in the arcades,
and we didn't want to be there.
So we just stopped going.
Which of these games is the
closest thing to the real thing?
"A," Intellivision
Major League Baseball,
"B," Atari Baseball?
A lot of the uniqueness stopped
appearing in arcades
and started appearing at home.
We have the Pong here,
which is one of the earlier
systems that I have.
We have a Colecovision,
an Atari 800,
one of my first computers,
a Odyssey,
an Atari 5200,
an Intellivision.
I have a couple
handheld systems.
The Bentley system,
the Rally 4,
Atari 2600,
everything a home could want.
When Nintendo came out,
that was a huge thing.
When computers became more
you could start playing games
on computers.
Who the hell's gonna want to go
to an arcade
when you can stay at home,
sit on a chair,
get a drink, go to
the bathroom whenever you want?
Just another example
of how technology
has sort of made us lazy.
To me that was the beginning
of the end
of what I call
the classic gaming era.
In today's world,
things get so popular
and then so unpopular.
You know,
you've got maybe a year or so.
I mean, it was just a fad,
and it didn't really
last that long.
For whatever reason,
the arcade as the place to go
just wasn't true anymore.
It is kind of sad.
I didn't see it lasting forever,
but I didn't think it was gonna
crash the way it did.
It was almost like
the stock market crash,
everything at once just gone.
I'm posing for the cover
of my album,
Walter Day in a mellow mood.
I'd like to be on the stage
doing the whole thing,
maybe a half a dozen
show dates a year, you know.
I want to retire, because I want
to do things that are now,
at this point in my life,
more valuable to me.
'Cause the video game thing
is a fun thing,
and it's an adventure.
But it's not the thing that's
most important to my heart.
I have no excuses
after that book's out
to stay in here any longer.
I will definitely be moving on.
How can we improve
on this thing?
That's how I remember Walter.
It's kind of funny to think that
Walter is probably, what,
in his 30s at that point?
So today I'm as old as he was
in that point.
Can you bring the wires
so that that thing...
Yeah, he's looking pretty good.
Oh, man.
Cover your mouth
when you yawn, you dork.
I hope... there's Kent!
Holy smokes.
Two or three of us
went to Ottumwa, Iowa,
to be with Walter.
And I remember waking up
one morning
and having an event
that still to this day
I consider to be sort of maybe...
If not the pivotal moment,
maybe a...
Definitely a pivotal moment
in my spiritual life.
I woke up about 6:00
in the morning
in this filthy attic
of Walter Day's
above the arcade,
and I can't really
put it into words very well.
But it was like I felt
the presence of God
in that room.
And the message that I got
from the Lord was,
"you're wasting your life.
"You are headed nowhere.
"You need to go home
and settle down
"and go back to school
and go to a Christian school
and do something
with your life."
And that's what I did.
The video game player
became someone
who needed to find a paycheck.
I stopped playing, I would say,
about 1983.
I moved to Reno.
Todd perhaps, you know,
earlier than anybody else
in our group
decided to pursue real life.
He had a real job.
He was a plumber.
So I don't know if you remember
the game Bubbles.
So we all picked on him,
saying, you know,
he's playing Bubbles
for a living.
I began really
a massive withdrawal,
and in '85 I was out.
They took the bull by the horns
and actually
accomplished something.
Most of them
seem to have nice jobs
and nice lives and nice homes.
I went into the military,
had a whole new set of problems
to play with there.
I got a job traveling.
I've been in organized baseball
now 54 years.
I buy computers.
I'm a senior
technical specialist.
I've been a partier off and on
through different stages
of my life.
I can't really devote too much
time to doing an everyday job,
because I take care
of my parents.
A sales rep
for a payroll company.
Quality assurance manager
for a company
that manufactures satellite
communication equipment.
We were the first ones in our
area to serve chicken wings.
So that's what I am;
I'm a trial lawyer.
I'm not like a pimp or anything,
but, I mean, I just...
I have a lot of friends,
and they happen to be
And that journey ended
when I found out
I was going to be a father.
And that was the end
of almost completely
of playing video games.
I went to Romania, met my wife,
and came back with two kids.
All right, let's pray.
Heavenly father, we thank you
for this day,
and we thank you for our family,
for the many blessings
that you have given us.
Our youngest baby, Elijah,
who just turned a year old
and is very fussy.
This is our oldest boy, Isaiah,
and Zachariah.
Isaiah is 12.
Zachariah is ten.
And I'm five.
And Josiah is five.
Are you helping daddy?
We've been talking about trying
for a girl.
We've talked about adopting.
You think that's funny?
Trying to figure out
why your child is screaming
is pretty good
problem solving exercise.
Melt down, melt down.
I really didn't slow down
extracurricular activities
a lot until my kids came.
And then my whole life kind of
revolves around what my kids do.
I do have a son.
It was out of
the only one-night stand
I've ever had in my life.
It's a story I really don't want
to go into, but...
I always wanted to do something
absolutely unequivocal.
But tremendous responsibilities
keep pulling at me.
He's the Pac-man champion.
And he's beaten the whole level
a couple of times,
or maybe more than
a couple of times.
Maybe a thousand or maybe 2,000.
Maybe google.
That's the highest.
Billy, numbers never stop.
Do they?
To kiss.
To go down.
Oh, that's my girlfriend
right there.
She lives in Mexico City.
She hasn't been as quick
learning English,
so I'm trying to learn Spanish.
So we have to learn
to communicate.
To undress.
I live at home with my parents.
Other than my cat, it's just us.
I've got two cats currently.
Their names are Impy and Sparks.
I've always preferred the sound
of a purr
to the sound of a bark.
And I have a fiancee now.
So on a personal level,
my goal is to actually spend
the rest of my life
with someone I love.
It turns out she's not
a game player,
which is kind of interesting.
I never thought I would,
you know, meet and fall in love
with someone who did not play
or enjoy video games.
That's the lady frog.
500 bonus points
if you bring her home.
There are a handful of video
game players
that have made more money
and achieved more success
and more notoriety
than Walter ever has.
I see that really as sort of
a cruel irony.
Sometimes I guess
that happens to people
that they get
their father-like energies
directed in a different kind of
way than normally,
having their children.
I've been very aware of the fact
that I've been babysitting
other people's kids for years
and that a lot of them
might have even been my children
in a sense, you know, because of
that same kind of relationship
where I've had a...
I've just had people
under my wing.
They probably did impact
each others' lives,
because it was all
a common thing they all had.
They only had video games
in common.
By finding that one thread
they had in common,
to see where that commonality
could take them
down such different avenues,
everybody was launched
on a voyage by Twin Galaxies.
Who would have guessed
at the beginning
where that voyage
was gonna lead them?
Everything that we do
is an experience,
because that was truly
the golden age of video games,
and we were pioneers.
I wouldn't trade that
for anything.
If getting old has to be
being serious, being a grump,
I don't want to become
that more serious grumpy person.
I want to be myself.
And if myself is unwinding
and playing video games,
then that's me, you know.
I enjoy that.
Like, if I really look back,
I think video games
really helped me.
I know how to win,
and I want to win.
You know, I wanted to succeed
in life.
I'm gonna keep playing
and playing
until I have at least
ten or more world records.
Joel, you have changed.
I have changed.
I went into the witness
protection program.
You know, each experience,
each day in a person's life
is something they'll never
relive again.
It's like the pages
of a fine book.
If you remember it,
even though it's, you know,
much later in time,
it is important to you,
the memory part.
As I look back on it,
it was a lot of fun
to have all the fame
and notoriety and so on.
But the only thing that has
really stayed with me
for 23 years is the friendship
that I've got
with Bill Mitchell.
And I treasure that.
Holy hair, Batman.
Is that little Benny?
Hey, just because I'm follicly
challenged does not mean...
The game of Berzerk
is like life.
You get too confident,
you're gonna get wiped out.
And in point of fact,
you die at the end.
And that's the great finality
of it.
After your five lives are over,
game over.
Game over.
Well, I talked to a few people
about the name of the movie,
Chasing Ghosts,
and I talked to my wife
and a few other folks,
and they said,
"sounds like a horror movie."
If I had a vote or an opinion
to put in,
I would just say that,
search for something else.
I began racking my brain as to
what would be a good suggestion.
So I envisioned an arcade
and a kid walking by a machine,
and it scanned him,
and then it said,
"coin detected in pocket,"
and he walked over
and played it.
That's essentially
how I got started with Berzerk.
So I suggested the name
"Coins Detected in Pocket."
Everyone that I've talked to,
they really think that it's
a more fitting name
for the project.
Coins Detected in Pocket.