Like many people, you have no doubt laid in bed, wide awake wondering: “When was the very first video game tournament?” And then, you ponder: “Who won?”
Good news, the folks at Twin Galaxies have an answer: October 19, 1972. Played at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab. The game? None other than “Spacewar.” The winners: Bruce Baumgart won the “free-for-all” tournament; Slim Tovar was singles champion.
If you haven’t heard of Twin Galaxies (I hadn’t), here’s the description from its website:
“Twin Galaxies is the officially recognized worldwide authority on all video game scores and world records. The organization tracks player rankings, gaming statistics, and regulates gaming contests and championship tournaments, with information dating from the 1930s and video game statistics from the early 1970s. As the electronic gaming industry’s premier statistician, Twin Galaxies preserves the history of gaming in their database, which documents the historical milestones of the electronic gaming hobby as it evolves into a professional sport.”
We got word of this discovery in an email from Walter Day, founder of Twin Galaxies. To commemorate the event, the organization released a trading card:
According to a description on the back of the card, Spacewar was created in 1962 and widely distributed among computer lab. In 1972, Rolling Stone magazine decided to sponsor, “The First Intergalactic Spacewar Olympics.” The San Francisco-based mag supplied “beer and prizes” for the more than 20 contestants.
How badly did Day want to verify this event? According to the card, he spent seven days in the Library of Congress in 2005 looking through tens of thousands of pages of old magazines. That is dedication to a cause.
Were you there? Did you ever play Spacewar? If so, post your story below. Would love to hear ‘em. Better yet, if you still have a copy of the game, invite us over to play!