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But today it has new owners. Six months ago, Knucklez, Jamshid and Adler combined resources to purchase the company, shutting down the service while they relocated the company to Denver and prepared to reboot it. Adler's failed attempts to reach Twin Galaxies when he wanted to become involved in competitive gaming are still a sore spot with him, and he hopes that the new owners can make the company both more reliable and more respectable. Getting Jamshid and Knucklez to bring their considerable reputations to the effort was a major step.
"I want Denver to become this hub of the gaming world, more so even than the 1UP, the 2UP and the Kong Off," Adler says. "It's impossible to ignore how much vitality is returning to the arcade gaming world, and I want Denver to be a huge part of it. So I decided to get my hands in at the ground level."
1925 Blake St.
Denver, CO 80202
Region: Downtown Denver
When it is officially re-established, Twin Galaxies will be housed in the upstairs annex of the 1UP, immediately between Adler's office and the space where Jamshid is preparing sixteen Donkey Kong consoles for competitive play this week. (Their search for Donkey Kong consoles has been so intense that it effectively raised the price of Donkey Kong boards: Those that previously could be found online for $150 are costing Adler at least $270 each.)
With new management in place, the Twin Galaxies procedure will change drastically. The online database will be revitalized, and instead of relying on a rotating cast of volunteers positioned across the country, the company will employ a much smaller staff to handle videos quickly and efficiently. But the true test will come from the gaming community itself: Only scores with the potential to break a world record will be accepted, and each video will be posted on the Twin Galaxies website for public view. "There's that community aspect again," Adler says. "You can never underestimate a gamer and how much he cares about the games."
If a player attempts to cheat the system or submit a faulty video, he or she will inevitably be caught by viewers and banned from all future submissions. Cheaters will also find all of their previous records erased, wiping them clean of any Twin Galaxies titles. This honor system is just the start of the changes. In the months ahead, Knucklez, Adler and Jamshid also hope to establish Twin Galaxies masters tournaments, bringing public attention to the stereotypically lonely world of gaming. The events will try to replicate the popularity of the Kong Off with varying games, with one hosted every two months or so at different arcades across the country.
"The King of Kong really set off the Donkey Kong side of things, but there's more room out there for revitalization," Wiebe says. "I thought maybe it would only last a few years, but it looks like there's no end in sight."
Growing up in Lake Tahoe in the early '80s, Jamshid hung out in an arcade every day. But he says nothing has affected the industry more than The King of Kong. "There's a huge difference between playing a game at your home and playing one at an arcade," Jamshid notes. "This hobby has become pretty massive, and Denver is now considered a big city for the hobby. I hope this eventually becomes a Comic Con sort of thing."
Most important, however, the new owners of Twin Galaxies hope to move the process of setting a record into live game play. Instead of requiring gamers to verify, on video, that the settings of their systems adhere to the Twin Galaxies standards, they'll be able to simply use a machine that has already been verified by Twin Galaxies. The first city to make this an option? Denver. Knucklez, Adler and Jamshid have already re-calibrated every machine at the 1UP, and they will soon do the same at the 2UP, so that any one of its machines will be capable of documenting a new world record. "The next Steve Wiebe or Billy Mitchell will be able to hang out at our bar in Denver and set the world record," Adler says. "That's a very cool thing."
But he doesn't plan to limit it to Denver. Within the next few years, Adler wants to extend that option to at least one arcade in every state. The next verified sites for Twin Galaxies will be all three Barcade locations, as well as the Insert Coins spots in Las Vegas and Minneapolis. And more are opening all the time, including Supernova in Colorado Springs and Press Play in Boulder. Knucklez, Jamshid and Wiebe all admit that they've considered opening their own bar-arcade concepts, and though none of them have put those plans into practice, plenty of other ventures are in the works.
And this week's Kong Off II could propel the industry here to record heights. The next live champion of Donkey Kong, with a list of hopefuls including both Mitchell and Wiebe, will be crowned on Colorado soil, and the people who'll be on hand to watch are a perfect group to impress with the possibilities of video-gaming in general and Twin Galaxies in particular. This is one game the 1UP plans to win.
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This is the story I wanted to read. Great questions asked and answered. If anybody wants to delve deeper, I'm covering the Kong Off 2 here: http://donkeykongblog.blogspot.com
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