Last week a brand new gaming record was set, with Youtube user Blubbler racing through the entirety of Super Mario Bros. in just 4 minutes and 57 seconds. Their feat in speedrunning has impressed gamers all over the world, but they certainly aren’t the first person to attempt to break world records in gaming.
The first person known to take an interest in records was Walter Day, who, in 1981, spent four months visiting video game arcades and gathering information about top scores for popular gaming cabinets. After doing so, he opened his own arcade named Twin Galaxies, and kept updated records on top scores on the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard. The records were so popular that they began to be recorded in gaming publications such as Video Games and Joystik. Twin Galaxies also began a longtime partnership with the Guinness Book of World Records. Competitions were regularly held in the early 80’s in order to fight for a chance of becoming a real life record holder, in cities all over the US.
In a pre internet era, making the National Scoreboard became a highly sought after honour. Even in recent times, competing is almost a full time job. Documentaries have been made about people on the quest for top scores, such as Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade, and The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.
Competitions also gave rise to the US National Video Game Team in 1983, who toured the US competing in the 1983 Video Game Masters Tournament, the results of which were published in the Guinness Book of World Records. The group were arguably one of the first teams of professional video game athletes to ever compete.
E sports have helped create a whole new genre of world records in gaming. Korean player Jaedong holds the records for highest earnings when he won $522,961.72 competing in Starcraft: Brood War. The finals for the League of Legends Season 3 World Championships were watched by 32 million people, the largest ever audience for an e sporting event. As e sports look to rival traditional sports, they will most certainly break even more records in the near future.
Now, with the internet making reaching out to other gamers worldwide so easy, record attempts are being made every day. Websites such as Record Setter attempt to collate the attempts and records broken all over the world. Slightly bizarre records have also been set, such as the world’s largest video game controller, youngest pro gamer, and largest collection of Super Marios.
The joy of attempting to break gaming records lies in the opportunity to show off your gaming skills to a large audience, and online the audience is larger than you can ever imagine. This holds true even back in the early 80’s, when winning meant having your name on the Twin Galaxies National Scoreboard. After all, everyone likes the feeling of being the best at something.