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Iowa History Daily: November 30 - Ottumwa's Video Game Claim to Fame

Iowa History Daily: On November 30, 1982, Ottumwa officially claimed the title as “Video Game Capital of the World.” Building off the momentum created by Walter Day’s “Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard,” a gubernatorial proclamation and official sanction from video game manufacturers helped to back up Ottumwa’s claim to gamer glory.

During the previous year, Walter Day and Jon Bloch opened the Twin Galaxies arcade in downtown Ottumwa between Weaver’s Clothing and a doctor’s office. The small arcade quickly grew to fame as Day unveiled the “Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard” after visiting more than 100 arcades to start compiling high scores for various arcade games.

As articles in Rolling Stone and Playboy magazines paired with features on shows including Good Morning America, the phone started to ring off the hook at Twin Galaxies with hopeful callers from coast-to-coast hoping to gain distinction for their video game prowess. The official supplier of video game records to Guinness World Records, the arcade also started hosting world championships for video games during 1983.

After Ottumwa Mayor Jerry Parker claimed Ottumwa’s spot as ‘Video Game Capital of the World,’ endorsements from Governor Terry Branstad, the Amusement Game Manufacturers Association, and Atari followed. During the 1990s, the “Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Record Book” debuted, and the brand continued to evolve over time as ownership changed. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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