Portrait of a 1982 Robotron Marathon

The following story is adapted from interview of Eric Ginner by Mark Alpiger in April 2013.

per Mark A.- Well, I’ve gotten thru to the man himself – Eric Ginner ! BTW, I consider him the most well-known player in the early.  Eric not only was known in arcade circles, and was heavily in evidence on the scoreboards published in the gaming magazines, he was known by many from advertisements he did for Atari (including for the arcade title Arabian). He was good at numerous different games, and shortly after they came out.

Anyway, EDG… Eric’s initials, as seen in the game Crystal Castles.  Eric played his 112,000,600 game at Phil’s Family Fun Center in Lakewood California on 08-30-1982 during the ‘Twin Galaxies All-Star Playoff’ event, by the ‘Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard’.  Note that other sources show the name of the venue to be ‘Phil’s Family Amusement Center’, and the name of the event as either ‘NC vs CA State Teams Playoff’  or ‘California Challenges North Carolina All-Star Playoff’.

The event was held August 27 – 30, which was an unusual Friday thru Monday ‘long weekend’. The poster provided by Waltr Day (shown above) indicated that it was California who challenged North Carolina. The Team Captains were Phil Iati for CA and LeoDaniels for NC. The latter location had an arcade venue of Light Years Amusement Center, which was in Wrightsville, NC.

Eric’s friend Franz Lanzinger (developer for Crystal Castles, initials FXL) , competed on Centipede (he believes he played for 6 to 8 hours, and as I recall, he used the ‘blob’ method of play, vs. playing a straight shoot-em-up way). Of course, there were, no doubt, many top-tier players on both teams.

There were 17 games in the event, and California won by a score of 10 to 7.

Back to the specifics from Eric and Franz – Franz can independently confirm part of Eric’s game, as he saw the ending of it, but since he was playing Centipede for many hours (apparently at the same time), he missed large chunks of it. He also says he slept thru part of the game (which one would imagine, since it was 30 hours in length, and FXL naturally retired for a typical night’s sleep at some point).

Now, here’s the interesting part – Eric confirms that this was a ‘stitched’ (as I call it) or ‘added together’ score. He remembers at least 3 times that he got the reset bug in the game, and had to restart. I didn’t ask him the time between restarts, but assume it was brief (say, less than 5 or 10 minutes). His longest run was 50 to 60 million on one play, and it happened at the final part of the game (in other words, he was on this run when he quit, and all the scores added to 112M).

Eric said he avoided the reset issue as best he could, but naturally, it will get you.

Some final notes; Eric assumed that the settings were ‘right’ (and I can’t imagine anything other than factory would have been implemented). He mentioned that Walter was not at this location, and I get the impression that he wasn’t in NC either. I imagine it was run by phone from the Twin Galaxies arcade location in Ottumwa, IA.

The full 1982-1983 Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard- Official Video Game Playing Rules are found at http://www.videoparadise-sanjose.com/tg-rules.htm

Just the section pertaining to cumulative scoring is listed below:


4.1 The real test of a marathon is endurance over time. Therefore, the main point is how long the player can last before succumbing to fatigue or losing their last Man. So, even though a machine might turn off and wipe out a score, the player is allowed to start again immediately. Machines do not have the en- (sentence ends abruptly…)

4.2    The previous score reached before the malfunction is added onto the new score registering on the machine. To insure that the old score was recorded accurately, the witnesses are required to watch the game closely and log the score regularly. For example, if a marathon machine blanked out five times during the performance, the final score would be attained by adding the five recorded scores together. All players will agree that accuracy is of the utmost importance.

4.3    If a marathon machine goes out of order for more than forty-five minutes and no replacement machine is available, the marathon is over due to technical default. The reason for this is that the player is receiving a bonus rest period that rival marathoners never enjoyed.

4.4    If there are unusual circumstances, however, call the International Scoreboard immediately for advice. Meanwhile, keep playing, if possible, until a decision is made.

4.5 A player may restart immediately if the machine blanks out for any technical reason or accident. The game room management should take precautionary measures to insure that there is no interference from friends, foes, or spectators.

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