The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 30, 2009

Could Ottumwa be home to video game hall of fame?

Plans gaining momentum to advance to next level

OTTUMWA — When the Courier interviewed Walter Day in January about the burst of video game-themed movies, he mentioned his hopes for a video game hall of fame in Ottumwa.

Plans were far from solid at the time. It was always something he wanted to see. But getting from dream to reality was a big step, and one Day wasn’t sure would happen anytime soon.

Things have changed.

Nearly three dozen people came to the Ottumwa Area Chamber of Commerce office Wednesday to start plans for a video gaming hall of fame. Ottumwa is the official video game capital of the world, a title it has held since the early 1980s and never formally relinquished, and top players say it’s time to give gaming a permanent home.

Billy Mitchell, crowned the video game player of the century and the first person ever to play a perfect game of Pac Man, came to Ottumwa from Florida. Steve Sanders, another top player, brought his camcorder to videotape the meeting.

And at the center of it all was Day, clad in his familiar zebra-striped referee’s shirt.

The plans are amorphous but have much more momentum than they did even three months ago. A Facebook page dedicated to bringing a hall of fame to Ottumwa has more than 500 supporters. It has begun to organize around key supporters who are genuinely committed to making it happen.

Day sees the old Godfather’s Pizza or the old movie theater, both located less than a block from the old Twin Galaxies arcade on East Main Street, as possible locations. He wants it to include displays honoring the top players of all time and the top games as well.

The heart and soul of Day’s vision are the games themselves. Games at the hall of fame will be where players must come to set new world records.

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