Some 27 years after facing the challenge of becoming the first-ever gamer to score 1 billion points on a video game, Iowa’s Tim McVey is once again facing adversity in his attempts to regain his title.
Earlier this year, McVey’s longtime billion-point mark on Rock-Ola’s Nibbler arcade game was broken by Maryland’s Rick Carter. McVey aimed to reclaim the Nibbler record over the Labor Day weekend, but while on his best scoring pace ever he triggered a glitch by gaining too many extra lives, ending his game after more than a day of play on one credit.
Earlier this month, McVey aimed to regain the record within the “Iron-Man Competition” at the Twin Galaxies Video Game Festival. Nibbler was McVey’s game of choice in this contest, where the winner was the player who survived the longest on their chosen classic arcade title. This time, after 31 hours of play and a record scoring pace, a glitch stopped him short as the game graphics shifted, making the game near impossible to play. (Rick Carter went on to win the Iron-Man contest on Q*bert with almost 59 hours of play).
“It’s motivating me further,” McVey said of his glitched-out record attempts. “I’ve improved my game play further, my scoring rate is higher than it’s ever been. I feel both of my last two games would of easily been new World Records, and substantially pushed the score up. It’s only a matter of time now.”
In addition to working against a lofty record and game malfunctions, there are other factors that make the Nibbler record a challenge in the modern day, according to McVey.
“In the eighties I was a kid,” McVey said. “I had minimal responsibility. I was reasonably free to chase the score whenever. Today it’s not so easy. It takes longer to recover between games. I have a wife and pets that I feel bad for, I feel like I am neglecting them to play a video game. I have a job. It’s a salary position. I’m counted on to be there daily as a member of management.”
McVey’s original Nibbler record saw the city of Ottumwa, IA name a civic day in his honor as the first-ever video gamer to score 1 billion points on a video game. However, this is far from his only video gaming achievement or goal, according to McVey.
“I think the consensus is that I did the billion and dropped off the face of the earth,” he said. “I’ve always been known for the billion, and nothing else really. That’s frustrating. I never stopped gaming. I did a LOT of things in the eighties and nineties that would still be standing records today, had Twin Galaxies been around at the time and I had submitted them. I’m looking for some significant milestones to round out my gaming resume so to speak.”
Among McVey’s additional goals are kill screen scores on Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, 1 million points on Dig Dug and a score of over 100 million on Robotron: 2084. Keeping at it when facing the challenges surrounding such goals is the key to winning, McVey said.
“For anybody chasing a goal that comes up short time and time again, all I can say is don’t quit,” he said. “It will happen when it happens. It’s frustrating as hell in the moment, but if you stop and quit trying you’ll regret it. You’ll always have that ‘what if’ in the back of your mind. As frustrating as the defeats can be, they make the success oh that much sweeter.”
McVey also says he is grateful for his supporters, including the folks at DeKalb, IL’s Star World Arcade, Mark Hoff and his wife Tina. McVey is presently undecided when to make another attempt as of press time.
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