Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
OTTUMWA — Wednesday will mark the 40th anniversary of Fairfield resident Walter Day founding Twin Galaxies arcade in Ottumwa.
In the ensuing years, the arcade took on a legendary status for maintaining a worldwide database of high scores for a number of video games. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the arcade, Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio has proclaimed Nov. 10 as “Esports History Day.”
During a ceremony planned for 2 p.m. Wednesday on Ottumwa’s East Main Street, Lazio also will unveil a 230-pound bronze plaque to commemorate the famous photograph of video game champions that appeared in LIFE Magazine in 1982. Day said the publication of that photograph played an important part in launching the “esports age.” Cake will be served at the ceremony, and local esports teams, such as the Fairfield High School team, have been invited to attend.
John Grunwald, director of the FHS esports club, stated earlier this month that “the history of esports begins right here at this spot in Ottumwa” and that the members of the team were deeply honored to receive an invitation to participate in the ceremony. He said the club members are ready to take on the responsibility of carrying organized esports into the next generation.
The bronze plaque includes the famous photograph taken by noted LIFE photographer Enrico Ferorelli. The text on the plaque tells the story of the photograph and lists the 16 video game superstars who were invited for the photo session that was conducted on the morning of Sunday, Nov. 7, 1982. The photograph would eventually go on to appear in the 1982-Year-in-Review edition of LIFE (published as the January 1983 edition).
The bronze plaque was commissioned and sponsored by David Reichelt, of Simi Valley, California, a game designer who enjoys eminent status in the industry for his bestselling mobile game Color Switch. Reichelt's game Color Switch holds a place in history as it was the fastest game to 50 million downloads and was No. 1 app of any kind on Apple for 28 consecutive days. To this day it has 260 million downloads.
"I respect the legacy of Ottumwa as the birthplace of esports history," explained Reichelt, "and feel honored to play a small part to make sure that future generations understand how important the LIFE magazine photo is to the narrative of esports history."
Wednesday’s event will be emceed by famous video gamer Billy Mitchell, Reichelt and Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio. The public is invited to attend.