Galaxies of Gaming

Isaiah “Triforce” Johnson presents a speech at the IVGHF.

OTTUMWA — If you were at the Quincy Mall on Saturday, chances are you caught a glimpse of the International Video Game Hall of Fame (IVGHF) this weekend.

Lonnie McDonald, the award presenter and a 2016 IVGHF inductee, started the ceremony by discussing the history of gaming and how the award ceremony began.

“Someone said, ‘let’s talk about the old arcade days,’” McDonald said. “Then it turned into someone saying, ‘I’ll bring a video game.’ Then somebody said, ‘Maybe we can get a party together;’ fast-forward here we are, two years, three years later.”

This is how the ceremony started, something McDonald said could not have been done without the support of the city. He spoke to Mayor Tom Lazio and talked about “how video games would help Ottumwa.” Lazio approved of the idea and worked with McDonald and other IVGHF board of directors to make the induction happen.

“I’m so impressed with people who come from all over the country,” Lazio said, “and the fact that we have a video game hall of fame and all the work they’re doing to make this an outstanding place. It’s going to get bigger and better all the time.”

McDonald was honored to present the 21 inductees and the history behind the games. He first started with the Golden Age Game inductees, which was defined as games from the 1980s and earlier. Galaga, a fixed shooter arcade game, was the first to be presented. It was developed and published by Namco and released by Midway Games.

Tetris was another Golden Age Game inductee, where Chris Tang, a Tetris inductee, said it was one of the best-selling and universally welcomed video games of all time, which marked its impact on competitive gaming in the 1990 Nintendo World Championships.

“It has pushed us forward to the e-sports era of today with new generations and players,” Tang said. “As Tetris celebrates its 35th birthday this year, new and innovative versions of the game have been created. Tetris has had a tremendous positive influence on my life as a player, competitor and professional as it as for so many others. I’m thrilled to be inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame this year.”

David Palmer was inducted as a Golden Age Gamer and described his gaming strategy as different.

“The huge science enthusiasts used the scientific methods to crack the games back down,” Palmer said. “Although I haven’t learned a new game in a while, the scientific method is a timeless principle that will apply to all such challenges. I heavily used scientifc methods of tackling that game [Battlezone], which was a game like chess in rapid motion, figuring out how to position myself in the field.”

Jeff Peters, another Golden Age Gamer, believed video games have the power to make a difference in one’s career and personal life as he lives it out in his own life. “Playing video games is a competitive sport,” Peters said. “I believe in preservation after all this time and restoring history and recognizing where, ‘Hey it’s a true art form.’”

For McDonald, speaking at the IVGHF not only was an honor, but he believed it was a way of making connections, seeing video games as a positive concept and making a difference.

“We were striving to get better and bigger, more inclusive,” McDonald said. “We had Halo and Assassin’s Creed and games that are still being played, on all sorts of mediums; it’s definitely growing, and what Ottumwa was trying to do is capitalize what’s going on to link the past and the future — and try to make it meet here where it belongs.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at cromero@ottumwacourier.com.

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