Billy Mitchell on the negativity of some gamers.
In our interview with Billy Mitchell he discusses how he was made to be the villain and what people did not see in the, King of Kong.
Billy Mitchell tells us about all the hate he has received and the difference between the online hate, the phone calls and how the haters react in real life.
If you are a gamer then you most likely know a little about eSports. eSports is big right now and is only going to get bigger over time. What people may not know is where eSports began. We talk with not only pioneers of gaming, but the first eSports team.
Our guest list for this episode includes:
• Walter Day: Founder of Twin Galaxies
• Billy Mitchell: Gamer of the 20th Century
• Todd Rogers: World’s 1st Professional Gamer
• Ben Gold: 1st World Video Game Champion
• Steve Sanders: Top 16 Gamer of LIFE Magazine 1982
• TriForce Johnson: Founder of Empire Arcadia
We talk about the founding of Twin Galaxies and the effects it had on the gaming world as well as the Life Magazine photo shoot in 1982 and the World’s first television broadcasted video game world championship hosted by ABC’s That’s Incredible. We also discuss the US National Video Game team and 35 years of eSports.
We all know who Billy Mitchell is especially if you love classic games, but sometimes you can know somebody and get the reason you know them just a little bit wrong as Billy explains in this clip from our Q&A event at the Florida Film Festival for Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler.
The Obsolete Gamer Show returns with its 100th video interview and we welcome video game legend, Billy Mitchell to the show. Love him or hate him, Billy is a champion and world record holder known for his skills in Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong and more.
Billy Mitchell has been featured in films such as The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters as well as many other video game documentaries and was part of CNN’s the 80’s.
Being from Hollywood, Florida we got to interview him in person and asked him about his reputation in the gaming world and his thoughts of subjects from gamers hating on each other to what advice he would give a gamer about to hit the big time.
After attending the world premiere of Man vs. Snake: The Long and Twisted Tale of Nibbler at the Florida film festival in Orlando Florida, Walter Day and Billy Mitchell held a Q&A for those in attendance.
Goin’ Out West: Running the gauntlet at E3 2012
E3 2012 has come and gone, bringing forth tons of people, announcements, events and bleary-eyed game journalists who haven’t had a real meal in a week.
I was not among them. While I attended the full event this year I did not go to cover it. There are easily tens of thousands of others who went to do just that, so I chose not to. I went with my other professional priorities in mind instead, leaving the thousands of blogs about the new Call of Dutygame or Nintendo‘s press conference to others. I do not classify myself as a gaming journalist nor is reporting and writing all that I do in gaming.
That being said there seems to be expectations from followers of my columns here and social media. Several e-mails have been asking me where my coverage is, despite numerous public statements that I was not going to E3 to report on it. Only now am I writing this in an attempt to satiate those who seem to expect it while also showing what I was really out there to do.
Therefore this E3 column will be different as I provide short stories and thoughts on my adventures in Los Angeles this year.
Tuesday, June 5 –
I always skip the Monday press conferences, knowing whatever I missed can quickly be watched from a comfortable chair later and knowing whatever is shown is going to be seen when I walk the floor anyway. I rolled into the event on Tuesday morning instead.
Got to walk the floor very little on Tuesday as I caught up with business contacts and potential business contacts along with some friends. Notable moment came from the VIP area atop the Microsoft booth when I met Philadelphia Eagles wide reciever DeSean Jackson. He is as tiny in person as he is fast on the field, but quite friendly. No, I did not let him know I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan.
Wednesday, June 6 –
Hit E3 early this day to meet-up with veteran video game journalist Rusel DeMaria, a man who has been writing about video games longer than a lot of the gaming media in attendence have been playing. Also got to catch up with Spy Hunter world champion Paul Dean, who is always an interesting guy to talk to.
The most interesting portion of the day for me started late afternoon as the Los Angeles Kings fans began to arrive to the area. A lot of tension existed in the area that day, as if the Kings won the Stanley Cup that night there may have been quite a moment in an area surrounded by other video game events.
Met up with Twin Galaxies founder Walter Day at the Nokiato help him out with some stuff he needed to do for the Video Games Live event taking place there that night. This became a point for multi-tasking, as the VIP party for VGL was going on at the same time as the red carpet premiere of the film noobz at the theatre down the street. After becoming one of the few people on earth to see exactly how Billy Mitchell primps his hair a group of us walked from the Nokia and past a sea of hockey fans and alert LAPD to the red carpet premiere.
It was a while before our turn to walk to red carpet, where actor/producer Blake Freeman was presented with a historic award and trading card for the film. I have to look for footage of a media interview with actor Ron Livingston to see if my accidental blurting out of “Holy ****, the guy from Office Space!” can be heard. Exactly 45 minutes late for the Video Games Live party we had to skip the screening of the film and head for the door.
As soon as he hit the front door of the theatre, Walter Daysuddenly ran off at a full sprint. I turned around to see the rest of our group had not yet caught up with us, then back to see Walter still running at a surprisingly high speed. Not knowing what else to do I took off after him, as a 63-year-old man in a referee uniform shouldn’t run through a pack of hockey fans alone.
We plowed through the barricades in front of the Nokia as I tried to keep up with Walter. He ran right into the main theatre with me after him as people we starting to take their seats. I truly hope someone out there got cellphone video of me and Walter Day’s run through the streets of Downtown Los Angeles. If you do, please post it or send it to me. It has to be quite a sight.
Plopping down in the Video Games Live VIP party I noticed two things. I was sweating half to death and the godfather of video games himself, Nolan Bushnell, was sitting 5 feet from me. Was an honor to finally meet him, even if I was short of breath at the time.
Also glad that the LA Kings lost that night. Not only was I not prepared to spend the night in a riot scene but a popular story subject in this space, Rachel Lara, might have been a red skidmark on the pavement outside if they had. Luckily she arrived through the exiting hockey fans in tact that night.
Thursday, June 8 –
This day marked the first day of the event that I actually got to play anything. To sum that up, those who complain that football games are the same thing every year will find the new physics in Madden NFL 13 really do change the feel of the game in a big way and that I think Nintendo’s Wii U will catch on well with those that made the original Wii a big success.
A great surprise came to me this morning as me and Walter Day met up at the Nintendo booth along with Guinness World Records’ Gaz Deaves to present Isaiah Triforce Johnson with awards for his successful attempts at being the first-in-line to purchase numerous Nintendo consoles at launch. The surprise came in the form of Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime along with a photo op alongside him. Quite a hard fellow to get to, it was a fun thing to happen to me, even if the photos I saw later claimed I was Gaz Deaves. I can’t quite imagine him with my haircut.
Later hit the G4tv set for Walter to present Nikole Zivalichwith an award as well only to have the fun surprise of getting one myself while there.
For the rest of the event I got to walk the floor with Walter Day, meet up with some more folks and end up in more cellphone photos than I can count. Ironically, despite not going to E3 to report on it I ended up meeting more people and becoming more exhausted than I have at any previous E3 event. I am also still catching up on the trailers I actually failed to find the time to see while out there.
Quite a fun time overall, and the slideshow to the left will show some of these very adventures. If anyone reading this also has photos or videos of the happenings mentioned here please Tweet them to me @OriginalPSP or send them to my website at PatrickScottPatterson.com.
In the meantime I rest in this window between E3 and ComicCon as I hope and pray for no more downtown street runs.
Video Game Trading Cards
Twin Galaxies International announces that it will be an exhibitor at the 56th Philly Non-Sports Card Show to introduce the video game trading cards to the industry and media, conduct celebrity card signings and present awards.
Twin Galaxies will display more than 200 published trading cards – including the completed “Superstars of 2011” set. Samples of cards from the forthcoming “Superstars of 2012” set will be on hand as well. In addition to honoring video game champions who hold world records, these sets will commemorate the history of the worldwide video game industry by honoring iconic industry pioneers, historic events, landmark milestones and noted video game personalities.
A number of gaming celebrities on the cards are planning to attend the event to sign their cards for the public. Celebrities already confirmed to attend include Billy Mitchell and Walter Day as well as CEO of Twin Galaxies International Pete Bouvier. More appearances will be announced upon confirmation.
The Philly Non-Sports Card Show is the premier event for non-sport and entertainment card collectors. The “Philly Show” is one of the countries only exclusively non-sport only trading card shows and is the largest of its kind.
Collectors will find a diverse array of trading cards depicting The Walking Dead to Wacky Packages and Star Wars to Marvel Comics. The show boasts card dealers, artists, publishers, manufacturers, free exclusive promotional card give-aways , and more. Exhibiting manufacturers include Breygent Marketing, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Famous Fabrics, Non-Sport Update, Rittenhouse Archives, SideKick, and shopTopps.com.
The artist line-up for the 56th Philly Non-Sports Show is outstanding and features the top sketch card artists in the field of trading cards. Those artists include: Axebone, David Gross, Rhiannon Owens, Sean Pence, Elaine Perna, and Tony Perna. Top artists from Ireland Trev Murphy and Veronica O’Connell will be exhibiting at their first-ever U.S. card show. Together, these artists
have worked on Marvel, Star Wars, Dexter, Vampirella, Bettie Page, DC Comics, and many, many other trading card titles.
Admission to the Philly Non-Sports Card Show is just $8 daily. A two-day pass may be purchased for $12. Show hours are Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM and Sunday, 10 AM to 3 PM.
The 56th Philly Non-Sports Card Show will take place at the Merchants Square Mall, 1901 S 12th Street, Allentown, PA, 18103.
Complete show details can be found on Non-Sport Update’s website at: http://nonsportupdate.com/philly.
Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Cards
About a week ago, we announced Twin Galaxies video game trading cards being featured in the non-sport update price guide. Obsolete Gamer was able to speak with Walter Day and Grace Snoke of Twin Galaxies International about their trading card rollout.
How did the idea come about to create video game trading cards?
Walter: The Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Card Set was originally created to celebrate Twin Galaxies’ 30th Anniversary. But the vision for the card set soon expanded to encompass the history of the worldwide video game industry, with cards created to honor the iconic industry pioneers, the world champions, the video game personalities, landmark milestones and events and significant people who, through their creative contributions, have enriched the global video game community. The card set already honors people including Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell in addition to the most recent world record holders on the hottest new games on the Nintendo Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.
What were the requirements in selecting who would be on a card?
Walter: The basic requirement to be on a card is to contribute something of importance to the global video game culture, either as a business person, a creative professional or a superstar gamer.
What has the reaction been by fans and those featured on cards?
Grace: Many of the individuals featured on cards feel honored to be on the cards. Tommy Tallarico, for example, was excited and recommended other individuals, like Nolan Bushnell, and others to appear on cards and asked us to contact them. The response of the fans has been curiosity and excited. They’re interested in seeing where this goes and how it will expand.
Walter: There has been a lot of support in the initial card sets, which resulted in us going beyond the initial 100 cards that were planned. Already, TGI has held numerous autograph sessions that featured celebrities pictured on the cards appearing at events to sign their cards. Public support for these autograph sessions has been very strong and exciting. On March 16, 2012, at the Smithsonian Institute, Walter Day presented to Nolan Bushnell (Founder of Atari) an enlarged version of his new Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Card (#165) in front of a crowded auditorium. Both Nolan Bushnell and the audience were very appreciative of the cultural importance of the video game trading cards.
Can you tell us a little more about the upcoming magazine issue featuring the cards?
Grace: Sure can. The Non-Sport Update is a bi-monthly publication which contains two parts, the magazine itself with articles and features on non-sport trading cards – like the new Big Bang Theory Cards and other cards distributed by Cryptozoic Entertainment. This upcoming edition contains information on the 56th Annual Philly Non-Sports Card Show in Allenstown, Penn., where we will be featured and premiering our card to the non-sport trading card industry. Inside the main magazine is a flyer that talks about the Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Cards and information on the cards. There’s another full page toward the back of the book, titled “Trains, Planes and Video Games” which talks about the history of video games and the fact that Twin Galaxies International and Non-Sports Update will have a feature displayed at the Smithsonian launch event “The Art of Video Games,” March 16-18.
The front cover of the Non-Sport Update Price Guide features a number of cards available in our card set and promotes the fact we will be featured at their upcoming card show. The Price Guide contains pricing and information on a large number of card series both past and present.
Can you tell us about some of the rare and error cards one can get?
Walter: Rare cards are produced as limited editions that are individually numbered on the back, with each card having its own registration number. The rare cards are randomly distributed among the plexiglass collector’s cases, with the promise of at least 2-3 rare cards in each case. So far, there have been about ten cards produced with only 100 copies printed and individually numbered and five others printed with 500 copies individually numbered. In the cards planned for Series C (coming out in April at the Philly Card Show) and beyond, there are plans to produce numerous cards in limited runs of 50 cards only — and a few as low as 10-25 copies total. These cards will be distributed randomly in many of the forthcoming sets. There have been numerous cards that were printed, released in very small quantities and then with re-called due to typos that were later discovered. Already, there is competition among collectors to get these error cards, too. There have been three error cards so far and two other cards that were re-released due to data changes on the backside text.
Do you think these cards could become valuable the way baseball cards are?
Walter: Yes, the Twin Galaxies Video Game Trading Card Set is the gaming industry’s first set of trading cards and we hope to position it to be on a par with TOPPS baseball cards and become the definitive card set that commemorates gaming accomplishments in all genre of gaming.
What about those who want to have their card signed, any advice?
Grace: Definitely. Throughout the year we will be doing various card signings at multiple locations. For example, Midwest Gaming Classic, which takes place March 24-25, will be doing a card signing ceremony. People will be able to get some cards signed at the Philly Non-Sports Card Show in April. Information about upcoming shows, once they are solidified, will be posted on the Video Game Trading Cards website.
Some of the individuals who appear on cards will sign cards and send them back if you include a self-addressed stamped envelope. With their permission, we may post their contact information on the website. Understandably, some individuals may not wish to have their personal information made public.
What would you say is the most valued card out right now?
Grace: I honestly couldn’t say. I’m interested to see what the appraisers say in a few months. I’d suspect that some of the cards that are rarer will be more valued, especially those that are signed by the relevant person.
Walter: We have already been in discussions with PSA – a firm that specializes in grading and authenticating trading cards – to establish the Video Game Trading Cards as certified collectibles that are preserved and graded in the same way that TOPPS and other more establish baseball cards are.
Do you have a favorite card?
Grace: My favorite card has to be the Video Games Live Card where I was introduced to Tommy Tallarico and his team after we presented them with their card at a Video Games Live Concert in Sioux City Iowa. I have always loved video game music and the fact they’re being recognized for the art of music in video games with this card is awesome.
How can we keep up on changes and new releases?
Grace: We recently launched a website dedicated to the trading cards at http://www.videogametradingcards.com. This site will contain links to press releases, press coverage, event pictures, information on upcoming events where cards can be purchased, checklists for cards in various lists, updates on individuals who have agreed to be on cards, how to order cards and more. The site is constantly being updated with both current and past events.
King of Kong Movie Review by Honorabili
“A modern day video game version of the story David and Goliath.”
This movie is about people who strive to be the world champions at the games they love the most. In this case we are talking about classic arcade games such as Donkey Kong, Pacman, Ms. Pacman, Galaga, and Defender.
Throughout most of the movie, we see this build up of rivalry between Steve Wiebe, the underdog, and Billy Mitchell, the top champion for many arcade games. Billy Mitchell comes off as an arrogant person but after having seen this movie many times I do see the point behind some of his speeches. For example, he says that you will know in World War I aviation who the Red Baron is because he was the top ace fighter pilot but you probably won’t know the name of the other aviators because they weren’t number one.
The movie has many famous arcade top players and influential people such as:
Steve Sanders, Billy’s friend and the author of Master’s Guide to Donkey Kong
Walter Day, top referee for video game world records and founder of Twin Galaxies
Brian Kuh, a Donkey Kong expert, was the number 2 DK player for years
Robert Mruczek, head referee at Twin Galaxies
Greg Bond, the MAPPY world champion
Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt, the Missile Command champion and a controversial player
Mark Alpiger, Crystal Castles (foot category) champion
The movie touches on what it takes to be a champion. Not only that but it explains that these old arcade games require a level of dedication and reaction that is no longer found typically in modern video games. Getting higher and higher scores in these classics is a real achievement that requires true skill building and mastery.
King of Kong shows world class competitive gaming since its roots in the 80s. It shows that people lie about their achievements and that when that lie won’t protect you when it’s time to compete against a real champion that does get a real high score at an official competition. In this case I’m referring to the competition between Billy Mitchell and Steve Sanders, where Billy Mitchell humbled Steve.
The competition shown reminds me a lot of the kind of drama and competition behind world class chess games. Bobby Fischer and some others always come to mind.
We see Billy Mitchell succeed in his gaming, personal, and business life. He owns a chain of restaurants and sells Rickey’s, a very successful hot sauce as well. In 1999, he played a perfect game of Pacman reaching the kill screen, the point where the game crashes because it runs out of memory. He even says that he feels as though all this good fortune happens to him there’s probably some poor bastard out there with the reverse fortune.
The movie presents us with Steve Wiebe who at the time got inspired to go for the Donkey Kong world record, was unemployed, and looking for something to do with his life. His family and friends talk about him saying that he was never the best at anything but he always tried and failed. He played sports and music and drew but they say he never did anything successful with those talents. Steve Wiebe is a good guy that’s a teacher and a family man. He’s the average Joe.
The experts talk about Donkey Kong and picture it as pretty much the most brutal arcade game ever. Billy Mitchell himself says that the typical Donkey Kong game lasts less than a minute.
We are presented with Twin Galaxies, the international score keeper organization for video games for the world. They were created by Walter Day and started out as him going around to different video arcades and eventually opening up his own arcade. Twin Galaxies has grown into the official record keeper for video games according to the Guiness World Book of Records. In the movie, we see the meticulous review process that these gaming world record referees go through. They must analyze every second of every footage submitted either through VHS or DVD usually, unless it’s a record that is taking place live at a tournament.
The conflict in the movie starts when Steve Wiebe beats Billy’s high score for Donkey Kong and the Twin Galaxy people discredit the achievement by going to Steve’s house when he wasn’t there and inspecting the insides of Steve’s DK arcade console. Since Roy “Mr. Awesome” Shildt had sent Steve the motherboard for his DK machine, they said it was not authentic and disqualified the high scores. There’s bad blood between Mr. Awesome and Twin Galaxies with Mr. Awesome saying that they approved a bunch of scores which weren’t valid and TG saying that Mr. Awesome is a liar.
Since Steve’s high score was discredited, he decided to travel to Funspot, one of the top classic arcade tournament locations in the world, where Twin Galaxies would see him perform live. Steve calls Billy to challenge him to go to Funspot to compete live against him.
Now although the movie paints Billy to be an arrogant villain, I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. Sure, he might be arrogant but that doesn’t mean he’s evil. We see him donate a Q*bert machine to Doris Self, an old lady that wants to enter the tournament. I don’t agree with all of Billy’s actions through the film but if you follow up on what happened with Steve and Billy after the film, the story gets much more interesting.
When Steve goes to compete and Funspot, he’s met with people that treat him well like Walter Day but also he’s met with people that are spies and asskissers to Billy like Brian Kuh, the former 2nd place record holder for Donkey Kong. Kuh even hangs out behind Steve, watching him play, which adds stress to Steve as he tries to attempt a live world record on the machine. Billy doesn’t go to the tournament but he has Doris Self deliver a video tape with a new high score that Billy shot for “fun” to further try to discredit Steve’s attempt. Doris even says that Billy is a pretty devious person as towards his strategies of attacking his competitors. Steve actually beats Billy’s score live at the event and even triggers the kill screen for the game, which crashes the game. It was the first time ever that the kill screen was triggered at Funspot. As the machine was going to reach the kill screen everybody at Funspot was standing in awe around Steve Wiebe as he earned the high score and the achievement. However, Billy submitted a video taped game with a higher score, around a million points, undermining Steve’s attempt. “Not even Helen of Troy had that much attention,” Billy says regarding people watching the video of his achievement. I thought it was an underhanded thing for him to do, sending in a video rather than show up in person to compete against Steve like a real warrior. When Steve wants to see the tape, they refused to show it to him which was a dickish move from Brian Kuh.
What’s kind of fucked up for me, according to what the movie shows, is that although they discredited Steve’s original video tape after they spent much time dissecting it, they pretty much immediately accept Billy’s tape as a legitimate submissions although he sent in a copy of a tape and it wasn’t really a good copy. The copy had VHS lines and the tape skips during some moments, something that according to what Robert Mruczek says earlier, is not allowed for a video submission. You see Steve’s face full of pride for getting the high score and the next day his face is filled with disappointment as Billy even from Florida steals his moment remotely from the comfort of his home. This part of the movie ends with a heartbroken Steve Wieve crying as his attempt and achievement is undermined yet again.
The movie shows Walter Day playing his guitar and that was kind of neat to see him at his home doing an everyday normal thing. He’s been running Twin Galaxies for a long time and although he should be retired from it he continues to do it for the benefit of his friends and colleagues.
9 months later, Steve starts to train to compete live again because Twin Galaxies let him know that the Guiness Book of World Records will hold a new tournament. It’s funny to hear one of Steve’s kids quote Billy Mitchell, “Work is for people who can’t play video games.” The way the movie is made obviously favors Steve and it’s kind of one sided in that way, with Steve calling and leaving Billy messages (since Billy doesn’t pick up from what the movie showed) but I thought Billy could have done a better job trying to defend his honor. I felt like Steve had everybody against him, even his family from the things they said to him like his girl saying that some people ruin their lives to break records.
So Steve Wiebe goes down to Hollywood, FL for the tournament, which is Billy’s hometown and expects to compete against him but Billy never does. Steve Sanders, which is one of Billy’s close friends even goes to the competition and he’s enough of a good sport and decent that he introduces himself to Steve Wiebe and his family. I thought that was a noble thing for him to do. He was even talking to him and praising him and his efforts and this is a guy that wrote a world famous strategy guide on the game. What’s kind of disappointing is that Steve Wiebe isn’t as well off as Billy yet Billy won’t compete against him even in his hometown. That seemed like a really cowardly thing for him to do. Wiebe even goes to Billy’s restaurant but Billy refused to talk or see him.
Billy does eventually show up to the tournament but he walks in and ignores Wiebe. Steve Wiebe says hello to him and Billy passes by and says “There’s certain people I don’t want to spend too much time with” which is kind of like a slap to the face. I wished he would have been a better sport and although yeah you can say the movie favors Wiebe’s view, even this should have been obvious to Billy that he was making a mistake reacting like that, especially when he knew he was being filmed. Billy says that if you don’t compete when the pressure is on that you’re not good enough but he refused to do that during this movie. He painted himself as a hypocrite by saying that and then not following his own words.
I was particularly proud of Walter Day and Steve Sanders for the way they treated Steve Wiebe and recognized his struggle and true merit. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when Sanders is sitting next to Billy and Sanders says he believes Wiebe is trying to do the right thing and then Billy says that he’s not familiar enough with the situation and they’re just sitting there with Sanders looking like “are you seriously going to be like that?” Walter Day apologized to Steve Wiebe for the way that Twin Galaxies had treated him and they made peace finally.
Although the film is now outdated because the rivalry continued, you can always check up on the Steve Wiebe vs Billy Mitchell rivalry at Twin Galaxies.
To view the latest scoreboard for Donkey Kong, click here. When I wrote this article Steve Wiebe was the current world record holder for Donkey Kong. You can view the high scores for Donkey Kong Jr. here.
Overall, the movie I thought was shot with good taste and it was put together in an exciting way that keeps you glued to the screen. Even people I know that don’t care too much for video games thought it was an amazing movie and were glad to have seen it.
I recommend anyone who has an interest in video games to watch the movie.
You can visit Steve Wiebe’s website here.
You can read up more on Billy Mitchell at his wikipedia page here.
In conclusion, Steve Wiebe’s struggle is an inspirational story to all of us.