Chasing Ghosts

Director: Lincoln Ruchti

Institute History

Description

The last place you'd expect to find the video-game capital of the world is Ottumwa, Iowa—but in 1982, this tiny town's Twin Galaxies arcade served as the shining beacon of pixilated pop culture, attracting the best of the best in the highly competitive world of arcade video gaming.

It was no fluke that eccentric arcade owner Walter Day became the official scorekeeper for the video-gaming industry, a mammoth task that he and head referee Robert Mruczek still oversee today via the Twin Galaxies international scoreboard. The arcade itself closed its doors in 1984, but not before Day gave some of the very best players to ever wield a joystick their 15 minutes of fame. Officially recognized as the "video game player of the century" is Billy Mitchell, who in 1999 became the first and only person to achieve a perfect score in the game of Pac-Man (3,333,360, in case you are wondering). He and other gaming superstars are an arcade owner's worst nightmare, able to play for hours, sometimes even days, on a single quarter.

Culminating with the nationally televised 1982 Video Game World Championships, director Lincoln Ruchti takes us on a wild ride through the lives of the first arcade celebrities, resulting in an eye-popping collage of retrogaming goodness. While the perspective on video gaming that Ruchti gives us is insightful, the colorful characters that he unearths along the way are this film's true treasure.

— Adam Montgomery

Screening Details

Credits

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