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Coin-Operated AmericansRebooting Boyhood at the Video Game Arcade$
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Carly A. Kocurek

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780816691821

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816691821.001.0001

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Gaming’s Gold Medalists

Gaming’s Gold Medalists

Twin Galaxies and the Rush to Competitive Gaming

Chapter:
(p.37) 2 Gaming’s Gold Medalists
Source:
Coin-Operated Americans
Author(s):

Carly A. Kocurek

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816691821.003.0002

In chapter 2, Kocurek deconstructs the significance of the “world record culture” that permeated much media coverage of video gaming and shaped gaming practices. This chapter traces the history of the Twin Galaxies Arcade in Ottumwa, Iowa, which became the best-known keeper of gaming records. Its owner, Walter Day, attracted attention from Life magazine, which featured a photograph of some of the top scorers—all teen boys and young men—assembled on Main Street in Ottumwa in the 1982 “Year in Pictures” issue. As a result not only of Day’s efforts but of a broader effort among coin-op industry professionals to demonstrate the respectability and value of gaming, competition became key to the dominant popular narrative of video gaming. Such images of gamers drew on both a long tradition celebrating the technological achievements of boys, dating at least to the early amateur radio culture of the Victorian era, and a national interest in the intellectual and physical fitness of America’s youths. Supported by industry and the popular press, the celebration, and even fetishization, of young male gamers helped establish an easily recognizable technomasculine archetype: young, male, technologically savvy, bright, and mischievous.

Keywords:   Video games, Twin Galaxies, Walter Day, Life magazine, Gaming history, Ottumwa, Arcade culture, Technomasculine, Gaming records

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