Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade

USA | 2007 | 90 min

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In the eighties, video games were synonymous with arcades, and games were bringing in enough quarters to fill the Rose Bowl. This endless possibility led Iowa entrepreneur Walter Day to declare himself the sole authority on high scores. In 1982, Walter launched his Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard and the rest, as they say, is history. Teenage superstars came from all over North America to join Walter in a LIFE Magazine feature spread, which recognized them as video game world champions. This led to nationally televised competitions, a touring National Video Game Team, and the promise of fame, fortune... and groupies. The participants came from throughout the continent with one common goal - to be the ultimate player. Feather-coiffed Bill Mitchell could plunk one quarter into a Pac-Man cabinet, conduct a veritable clinic on hand-eye coordination and hours of perfect play later (every dot, energizer, and ghost) work his magic until the machine—out of memory—gave up. Todd Rogers—"marathoning" genius—once played a sleep-defying, record-breaking 82 hours straight. Ron Bailey and Joel West, best friends in 1983, stopped talking to each other after Ron beat Joel's Berzerk world record. They presently live 30 miles apart and haven't spoken in 22 years. This type of ego-fueled feuding was not uncommon among the players of that era.

  • DIR Lincoln Ruchti
    CAST Ron Bailey, Sam Blackburn, Leo Daniels, Walter Day, Kent Farries, Ben Gold

    Official site
  • Nominated, 2007 Sundance Film Festival – Grand Jury Prize Documentary