Thursday, November 13, 2008

13 November 1983 - Asteroids

asteroids game
This story takes me back Eskimos, put put and Daily Thompsons Decathlon:

Way back in 1983 a Fifteen-year-old named Scott Safran from New Jersey in the US, sets the world record score in Asteroids which is still the longest lasting video game high score in history.

Scott, who had been practising non-stop at the game for the previous two years and agreed to play a marathon session of Atari's popular outer-space shooting game as part of a charity event in Pennsylvania. His mother drove him to the event and lent him a quarter, which he dropped into the machine Nov. 13.

Some three days later, having taken only brief bathroom and food breaks, Safran finished his game with 41,336,440 points, nudging out the previous world record held by famous old-school gamer and actor Leo Daniels.

What makes Safran's score amazing is that it has gone 25 years without being broken, giving it the longevity record for a video game high score, according to the authoritative game-record keepers at Twin Galaxies.

Asteroids is a very difficult game. Players have to contend not only with the eponymous giant rocks that veer at their spaceships and with enemy laser fire, but also with the touchy control scheme. You have to rotate your ship and fire a single thruster to move anywhere, and momentum can carry you right into disaster if you don't have nimble fingers.

Setting a high score on any video game requires exceptional skill, as illustrated in the recent documentary The King of Kong. But setting an Asteroids record also requires superhuman endurance, because it literally takes days to do.

Unlike Donkey Kong, which has seen serious challengers step up one after another, only one person has made a serious attempt at the Asteroids record in recent years. An Oregon man named Bill Carlton settled in for a marathon session in 2004, which ended in failure when his machine broke down after 27 hours of play. He had scored more than 15 million points, placing him 15th in the record books.

In 1998, as Atari was planning to release a new edition of Asteroids, Twin Galaxies' head referee Walter Day attempted to locate Scott Safran, with whom he had fallen out of touch. It took Day four years to discover that Safran had died in 1989, at the age of 21, due to injuries sustained when he fell from the roof of his Los Angeles apartment.

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