Twin Galaxies International, the score-keeping organisation founded by Walter Day and used by Guinness World Records to validate video and arcade game high scores, has re-opened its doors under new management - and with a price attached.
Twin Galaxies was originally an arcade, founded in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1981 by gaming enthusiast Walter Day following months of visiting arcades throughout the US and recording the high scores displayed on machines. Using his high-score listings - published as the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard - Day was able to popularise his venue as the 'official' home of high-scores, and thus the only place to be if you wanted to break a record.
Day's big breakthrough came when Life Magazine chose Twin Galaxies, the growing popularity of which had given Iowa governor Terry Brandstad and Ottumwa mayor Jerry Parker cause to describe the previously sleepy town as 'Video Game Capital of the World
,' as the location for a photo-shoot starring some of the biggest names in the up-and-coming world of professional gaming - an event familiar to any who have seen the documentaries Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade or The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Soon, the score-keeping would take over from the running of an arcade. Walter Day, in his iconic striped referee's shirt, would position himself as the 'official' scorekeeper to the world - something the world was perfectly happy to accept: numerous magazines would use Twin Galaxies' data for their own high-score tables, while Day would act as assistant editor for the 1984 edition of Guinness World Records - a partnership that today sees the entire gaming section of Guinness' book use only data that has been validated by Twin Galaxies.
In recent years, however, Day distanced himself from Twin Galaxies, partly through a desire to pursue a career in music and partly as a result of controversies that brought into question the impartiality of the organisation, in particular with regard to its dealings with infamous gamer Billy Mitchell. The subject of the dramatised documentary King of Kong, Mitchell was painted by the film-makers as having undue influence over the scores recorded by Twin Galaxies - even to the point of having rival's scores invalidated due to surprise rules which did not apply to his own score submissions.
As a result, Day announced his retirement and sold the Twin Galaxies organisation in October last year - at which point the organisation stopped accepting score submissions. Now, its new owners have re-opened the doors for gamers to submit their high scores - but with significant changes to the way the site operates.
Previously, Twin Galaxies scores were either submitted via video tape - which would be watched in full by volunteers working for the organisation to verify the score - or at in-person events attended by Twin Galaxies personnel. Either way, the score-keeping was free of charge. Now, however, its new owners want to see some cash from the venture: submissions to the leaderboard will now cost up to $75 to be verified - significantly higher than the $15 fee proposed by the organisation's new management back in November last year.
The fees take the form of a tiered structure: a video submission which takes under two hours to watch in real-time will be validated for $25; a six-hour submission will cost $60; and a twelve-hour submission will cost $75. Those with more than one submission can combine them: while the $25 tier is only valid for a single score, videos submitted under the $60 tier can include up to three submissions, rising to five on the $75 tier.
Whether the pricing structure, which the organisation's new owners claim simplifies matters and '[ensures] prompt service and efficient handling of scores submitted for adjudication
,' will save an organisation once at the forefront of gaming and now seen as something of an outdated relic with a chequered past remains to be seen.
Details on Twin Galaxies' new structure are available on the official website