Review Fix chats with “Walter Day’s Gaming Superstars Vol: One” co-author Todd Friedman, who discusses the creation process and his hopes for the series, which is now looking for funds on Kickstarter.
About Walter Day’s Gaming Superstars Vol: One:
A collaboration project with Hagen’s Alley Books, Walter Day’s Gaming Superstars Volume One is a 100+ page book that will cover the entire first year of trading cards released in the series. The cards will be accompanied by beautiful imagery and stories told by people within the gaming community who were featured on the cards, as well as stories from Walter Day himself.
For more info on the book, or to make a pledge, click here.
Review Fix: How did this project start for you?
Todd Friedman: Back in 2008, I watched the King of Kong on TV. I found the storyline interesting about Donkey Kong and the world record.I was introduced to Twin Galaxies and Walter Day and really was motivated to learn more about them and the history. In doing so, I saw that Walter Day was actually going to be in my home state of Illinois at a Video Game Convention.
I immediately went to the website of the conference and saw that indeed he was going to be there, along with other gamers from the movie and Twin Galaxies Scoreboard. I emailed the organizers of the event and asked if there was anything I could do to help and be a part of the show. Indeed I was asked to help and be a part of the Video Game Summit. This was a great opportunity to get an up close an personal with the gamers and Walter Day.
Little did I know that I would be co-promoting VGS for the next 11 years and counting. The next VGS is scheduled for July 13th in Villa Park, IL (www.thevideogamesummit.net). I had the privilege of chatting with Walter and learning about Twin Galaxies. He also told me about a project he is working on to create trading cards for the gamers. I immediately caught an interest in that idea. I told Walter if there was anything I could do to help, to let me know. In 2009 I attending a different convention and was able to see prototypes of Walters idea and some of the cards he was creating. To my shock, I saw that I was one of those trading cards. Earlier that year I submitted some scores to the Twin Galaxies scoreboard, So Walter made an early designed card and printed it out for me at the conference. I was honored. This would be the beginning of a long friendship with Walter.
In 2010 was a big event in Ottumwa, Iowa where major competitive gamers from the past and present attended the first International Video Game Hall of Fame. This would be where the first series in the official trading card set would be presented. These cards would be the beginning of what is now almost 1,800 cards printed. I always collected trading cards as a kid. Baseball, Basketball, Garbage Pail Kids, etc. To know that there were video game cards and I was part of the beginning, influenced me to collect as many as I could and to try to get all of them that were made. I also got a lot of them signed at the event in 2010. We year after year, Walter, all on his own time, created hundreds and hundreds of more cards and I was determined to get them for my collection. Fast forward to two years ago, I have always wanted to publish a book.
I have during my 10 year run of gaming, writing for different published magazines and internet sites. I had the bright idea to create a book about the trading cards so people could see them in one place and read about the history of them. During my time attending conferences, I met a young man who published his own gaming books and sold them at conventions. I asked him if he would like to help me with a project on a Trading Card Book. He loved the idea and since that time we have been working hard to create the first edition of the first 200 cards in the series.
Review Fix: How much work has done into this?
Friedman: This has been a project that has been ongoing for two years or so. I main intention was to make sure we had all the images and cards printed from the first series. This would be cards 1-200, but there were some cards that were misprinted and duplicated numerically. So technically if someone had every card in the first set, there would be 231 cards. I, in fact, do have all 231 including a rare Ralph Baer card that only 20 were printed. After we had all the images, we needed stories from the cardholders themselves. So my mission was to contact as many as I could to get some short stories that no one really knew about them and Walter and something that would be interesting to read next to their card in the book.
In 2016, With the help of others, The Walter day website was born. Thewalterdaycollection.com. In 2015 I decided to interview as many cardholders as I could to get a sneak peek of their gaming experience and history. I thought doing one a week would be cool. I have accomplished that to this day, except for some missing weeks here and there. Overall, I have 150 interviews with card holders on the site. So, I had many contacts of the card members in the book and they were happy to help out and give their stores. Jeffrey Wittenhagen who has his own publishing company started the design of the pages and worked with Dan Tearle to design the cover.
This book idea was actually going to happen. We knew we needed help with finding, so Kickstarter is really the most popular way to do this. I am new to the idea but thought if I were to start my first campaign, this would be the perfect one to do so. Jeffrey and I agreed that the proceeds of the first book would go directly to Walter as he has created this card collection mostly with his own money and all of his time. It is our way of saying thank you. If this book does well, which we have already exceeded our goal, we would make more book in the future with more trading cards in the sets. We added Volume 1 to the book to indicate more to come.
Review Fix: What makes Walter so special?
Friedman: Well besides the fact that he has devoted his career in the gaming industry, solely on giving the gamers the limelight and fame. He never asked for any publicity or gratitude in return. He did everything he has done form the goodness of his heart and his love of the industry. I believe Water has mentioned he would retire from gaming and focus on music at least 5 or 6 times. He just could not walk away and help future gamers be recognized and featured in gaming events and tournaments. So the card creating kept on going and still does today. He even has branched out of the gaming cards and made historical cards and Fairfield cards as well as Science Fiction cards. Walter started the Twin Galaxies scoreboard back in 1981-1982 and to this day his name is linked with Twin Galaxies, even though he had sold the business and is not part of it at this time. In my opinion, it has never been the same without him or his passion. Walter is the kindest individual you will meet and his happiest time is when he is presenting a gamer or designer with a trading card award.
Recently he had his 70th birthday party with many of his friends, fellow gamers from the ’80s, 90’s and today, and even gamers from other countries attend. I would say 3/4 of the party, Walter was presenting cards and letting others talk about themselves and the industry. The one day in the past 12 years I have known him, it would be about Walter, but he would not even care, his mission was to make others happy and special. That is a true sign of his generosity. This is why Walter deserves this book and the proceeds that come with it.
Review Fix: What have you learned throughout this project?
Friedman: I have learned a lot about the gamers behind the cards, the history of how the industry has grown and become as big as it is now, but most of all on this project I have learned how much Walter is loved and how his kindness has rubbed off on so many of his peers. Being my first Kickstarter and book, I have learned how much is involved and how exciting the experience can be. It is everything I thought it would be and more. This project gives me passion and motivation to keep being involved in the gaming industry any way I can. Whether it’s writing, collecting, running conferences or just being a guest or customer at an event. I want to be as big a part of it as I can. Since 2008, I have met so many innovators and creators of video games, from Atari to Xbox, from the designers of Q-Bert, Defender and Rampage to the music of Tommy Tallarico and I Fight Dragons. It has truly been an honor to be a small part of this huge industry. I also have become friends with gamers from other countries,m such and TriForce Johnson in Jamaica and Phil Day in Australia. Hanging out with so many arcade owners as well as video game stores around the country. Just amazing that I am even known to these people. This project was a perfect way to get everyone involved together in one place and I plan on continuing it in the years to come.
Review Fix: Why must someone who loves video games support this project?
Friedman: This is a very unique book, there are hundreds of gaming books that have a theme of the systems or the games. There are not many that focus on the gamers themselves and the history of the people behind the games. There are books who talk briefly about the individuals, but there is not a Video Game trading card book on the market today. You would probably tell yourself because no one makes trading cards for video gamers besides Water, but in fact, just recently there were trading cards made by a separate company for OverWatch League members. Yes, ESports now have trading cards as well, but it was Walter who started this and is taking it to the next level. this book is the history of the first 200 cards, a must have for any gamer, young and old.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Friedman: Well, in terms of the book, The Kickstarter ends on June 12th, so I will meet with Jeffrey to decide what the next step will be. Now that we know how the Kickstarter did, we can add more pages to the book and more stories from the gamers. Once the book is finalized, we can create a shipment date to the backers and then open it up to the public. That will be a great day when we see the book sold on other outlets. In terms of me, I have my Video Game Summit on July 13th, 2019.
I am on the Nomination Committee for the International Video Game Hall of Fame which we are in the middle of the process of sending out the final nominees to the public to vote. The ceremony will be held in Fairfield, Iowa on October 5th, 2019. I have been a part of this award ceremony since the first one in 2010. I also write for Old School Gamer Magazine, Retro Gaming Times and the Walter Day Website. So I am continually busy with sharing stores and interviews with the public. I would love to do this full time but as it is now, I also have a full-time job in I.T. which keeps me just as busy.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Friedman: I just wanted to thank you for this opportunity to promote the book and hope that whoever is reading this will pledge and get your own copy. This truly will be the start of more to come in the book series. If you are a person who goes to conventions and gaming events, I am sure one the attendees will be in the book and you can have them sign their page with their card on it. It will be a cool keepsake for years and years.