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Marathon Video Gaming - Asteroids For 27 Hours

by Rainier on March 28, 2004 @ 1:06 p.m. PST

It’s been nearly 20 years since a video gamer has played an arcade game for more than a day on a single quarter. In fact, not since Twin Galaxies conducted the 1st Annual Iron Man Contest for the Guinness Book back in July,1985, has a video gamer stepped to the plate intent on breaking a long-standing video game marathon world record.

But, with the Asteroids world record in his sights, Bill Carlton, of Portland, Oregon, lasted 27 hours before his trusty Asteroids machine malfunctioned, ending his run for glory at the Ground Kontrol Arcade ­ a Portland video game center specializing in classic arcade games from the early 80s.

With 60 classic games to choose from at Ground Kontrol Arcade, Carlton chose Asteroids for his ordeal, with other gamers also signing up for future marathons on other game titles -- a sign that players are ready once again to tackle big ticket records; ones that take days of playing to eclipse, demanding tremendous stamina as much as playing skill.

“Carlton’s 12.7 million points put him in 5th place in the all-time Asteroids rankings,” explains Walter Day, editor of Twin Galaxies’ Official Video Game & Pinball Book of World Records, the industry’s record book. “Still, he would have had to play for more than 2 more days to match the 41 million-point record established by Scott Safran back in November, 1982.”

A comprehensive report on the significance of Carlton’s feat has been prepared by Robert Mruczek, Twin Galaxies’ Chief referee and can be found at

“Long-range, high scoring marathons like Carlton’s were the meat and potatoes of the video gaming world back in the early 80s,” says Day, who personally organized many such marathons for Twin Galaxies back in the classic age of gaming. “You were deemed a star if you could take a game for days on a single quarter. It brought tremendous prestige and everybody tried to master their favorite game and marathon it.”

During the heyday of the marathon age, Twin Galaxies found itself monitoring as many as a dozen marathons every weekend ­ with the biggest crop being held the weekend of April 2-4, 1982, when Twin Galaxies organized the 1982 Defender National Championship, which saw Defender marathons going on simultaneously in 23 different cities around North America. “It was a weekend affair,” remembers Day. “The kids took off Friday from school and started in the morning, playing straight through until Monday.”

Though Rick Smith of Mission Viejo, California won the National Championship that weekend with 33,013,200 million points, he held the title for barely 1 month before Marvin Norton of Thatcher, AZ snatched Smith’s crown away with a 49 million-point marathon.

The most unique marathon conducted during the golden age of gaming, was the 1st Annual Twin Galaxies Iron Man Contest, which offered eight competitors a
chance at winning $10,000 in cash if they could keep their game going on one quarter for 100 hours. James Vollandt of California, playing on Joust, lasted the longest with 67-1/2 hours.

To read more about Bill Carlton’s Asteroids marathon, go to

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