One of the original competitive gamers, Iowa’s Tim McVey made video gaming history in early 1984 by becoming the first person ever to officially score 1 billion points on a video game in a marathon session at the original Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa, IA. The game title was Rock Ola’s Nibbler, a machine he has challenged in recent years as well.
Still gaming today, still taking shots at improving his famed Nibbler score, and still taking part in Twin Galaxies contests by way of Modern Warfare 2 battles, Tim took a moment to sit down and chat about his gaming exploits both old and new.
Q – As one of the original gamers at the old Twin Galaxies arcade, how did you first come about gaming there?
A – I started gaming at Skateland skating rink as a small child. The OLD games, like driving games that had plastic film with “roads that moved” on them… That stuff, along with pool and pinball, and can’t forget foos ball! One night I was palying a game at Skateland and heard some kids talking about Twin Galaxies, so I had to go check it out.
Q – What is your most memorable moment there?
A – Breaking the billion point barrier on Nibbler was cool, but what followed was better! Walter Day arranged for a “Tim McVey Day” on January 28th 1984. How cool is it to be 16, and go down town and see a banner across main street proclaiming the day to be YOURS! Walter had the front windows COVERED with Tim McVey Day posters. That had to be the most memorable!
Q – What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in re-visiting the billion on Nibbler in the modern day VS when you first did it in 1984?
A – The biggest challenge today: no joysticks. When I was a kid, we rode BMX bikes nearly non-stop, so between that, and playing arcade video games which nearly all had joysticks, callouses were the norm… I’ve gotten soft with age. I don’t ride bikes too often anymore, I work in a quality lab for a local machine shop, so my hands don’t get too tore up there… and when I play games now at home, it’s thumb sticks on controllers, so no natural callous build up has been leading me to something I never dealt with as a kid, blisters. It SUCKS!
Q – What advice can you give to a gamer considering a run at a lofty video gaming record?
A – Never give up. And do it because YOU want to. Do it in your own time, in your own way. Do it because it’s fun. Do it on a game you really like. Playing something you really loath, just takes all the fun out of the experience, and makes it 10 times harder to accomplish. Plan your strategy, think about every little detail of prep that can help to push you over the edge. And most than all else, play and practice. Build yourself up to the record you are chasing. Records rarely happen “out of the box”.
Q – Did you think at the time that you would still be playing video games in 2010?
A – I for sure thought I’d still be playing video games. I never thought I’d still be playing Nibbler though! I swore I’d never try for the score again years ago… I literally almost hated the game once I got the record, I had played it SO MUCH. But 2+ decades later, I love it again. But I truly liked the game when I was a kid it was one of my favorites, much like Robotron, I loved the games with the most speed and action.
Q – You’ve come full circle and now take part in Twin Galaxies contests on Modern Warfare 2 on the XBox 360. Being a player that bridges gaming eras, how would you compare the social interaction of the arcade boom of the early 1980s to the online console boom of today?
A – In the arcade, if you said some of the stuff I hear online now, you likely would of got smacked upside the head. The arcade was a gathering spot, a hang out. Online is in a manner, but for the most part it’s less personal, and much more anonymous. Anonymity seems to bring out the very worst in what are otherwise some very good people. And the ones that aren’t all that good to begin with, well that’s where the internet kinda sucks.
Take MW2 for example. I rarely if ever play online when my “friends” aren’t on. It’s just not fun playing with randoms, many of whom are quite obnoxious. And by “friends” I mean mostly people I’ve never met in real life, but we met thru various video game related forums and web sites, as well as playing online. I know I’m NOT that good at FPS games in general, so I like playing with friends, and opposed to hearing some 12 year old telling me how I got pwned… It’s a GAME people, it’s meant to be FUN!
I think for the most part I prefer the arcades… But it IS nice on nights when you can’t sleep, you know the arcades would normally of been closed, you can jump online in your pajamas and see who is on and play some games… Plus playing in my living room, on a 65″ HDTV with 5.1 surround sound, on the comfort of my sofa or recliner… The arcades could never match that!
Q – Parting thoughts?
A – Use common sense. Be courteous online. Respect your fellow gamer, and understand they invested the same cash in the system and games that you did, and deserve to have fun playing them as much as you do, Treat people the way you want to be treated. But above all else, games were meant to be FUN. Don’t get so obsessed chasing trophies, or achievements, or get so consumed with leveling up, or prestiging… that you don’t stop and smell the roses. Slow down. You don’t get paid to be the FIRST to finish the game or max it out. Smell the roses, take some time with your friends to have FUN! Enjoy the ride!