Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Isaiah TriForce Johnson, displayed on card number 46 , from the Superstars of 2011 Collection.  TriForce is also displayed on cards 265, 1528, 2251, 2257, 2425 and 2442 not to mention the unofficial paper circus trading card in 2009.   TriForce is the founder of the development organization and eSports team “Empire Arcadia”. His eSports brand has recorded more documented tournament victories than any other team in the history of competitive gaming. He is a retired professional gamer and played games such as vs. Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Black Tiger and more. TriForce is famous for being the first person purchase a new Nintendo system such as the Nintendo DS, Wii, 3DS, WiiU and other games associated with it at the Nintendo Headquarters in New York. He has waited up to as much as 30 days outdoors to be the first one to receive a Nintendo product. I introduce to you one of Nintendo’s legendary gamers, TriForce “GameMaster”

Do you think video game trading cards has a place in competitive gaming?

Like its cousin industry “sports”, eSports trading cards are very viable. Eventfully everything will go virtual or digital but if you look at sports now, they still make trading cards of your favorite sports athlete and Walter Day makes trading cards for some eSports players as well. These trading cards are more of collectibles with historical information more than anything else. The point is to trade and or collect them all like any other trading cards. There is a large historic value in them and serve better to pass down to future generations like the pastime baseball cards.  The fact that these trading cards are even created by a senior who’s involved and experienced in the whole competitive gaming scene as Walter, adds a level of value I believe no other trading card series in any other sporting industry in the world can match in prestige.

I honestly think the format and medium of the cards will change over time but I think trading cards will somehow remain in a physical format, even if they become digital. Have you seen the paper screens that you can watch videos on? Imagine in the future where trading cards are on digital paper with digital encrypted images and information? That would be cool and very fitting of an eSports trading card.

Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why?  Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story, Art style

Gameplay; without question. Without the gameplay there is no game. It is the very soul and core engine to the game itself. This applies for board games, card games… any game for that matter. The same stands true for video games. You can still have a good game with “GREAT” gameplay… despite the other elements such as atmosphere, music, story, art and style being average or subpar. Evidence to this is one of the greatest games in history, Tetris!

Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game? 

That all depends as each game varies. For some games, the entire experience of the game is the best part of it, whereas the final boss is just the end. Other times the final boss makes up a great part of the games over all experience. Then you have times when the final boss is a godsend because you just want to finish the game.

What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer gamer?

For the single player game it’s a tie between Super Mario Bros. and the Legend of Zelda as a series. I can’t choose between which game is the best so I just chalk it up as a series; it all depends on what mood I’m in for and which game of its series. As for what multiplayer game, that would have to be Tetris. The gameplay and challenge is just infinite, whether you’re playing casual or competitive, I’m still playing this game since I first played it on the Nintendo Entertainment System. This game to me is the greatest multiplayer game of all time.

If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?

Honestly… I have no interest in game design. When I was a kid, yeah but at some point I just lost that passion. I rather play them than make them.

Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?

The very first game I can remember ever playing was table-top Pacman. I was about 4 at the time. It was my older brother’s video game system. We didn’t yet have a video game console in the house. My brother somehow brought home a lot of them to play. He had Popeye, Donkey Kong and Galaxian. I would play my brothers games when he wasn’t around and try to max out the scores. I actually think I still have his Donkey Kong table top game in my storage. I took it from him because I couldn’t trust that he would be able to keep it throughout his lifetime but I knew I could.

The very first arcade game I ever played was Star Wars and I had to stand on a crate to play the game. It was the first time someone complimented me about how good I was at a game. That one compliment pushed me to want to be the best at any video games I came across. Talk about ego. It was around early 1984 my father told me about the world’s best arcade gamers and they all go to Iowa’s arcade. He has a collection of LIFE Magazine books and he showed me the whole LIFE magazine spread and that is how I first found out about Twin Galaxies, Walter Day and company. I actually still have my Father’s LIFE magazine collection in storage as well.

Life 3

What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games?  How do you compare them to older, classic games?

I have a neutral opinion about video games in today’s generation and that is because I understood them, then and now. Back then in the classic age, there were a lot of games that were horrible and very few that were good. Nothing has changed; it’s still that way now. I don’t compare graphics because graphics are all based on the technology during it’s time. It’s like looking at a basketball game in HD today but comparing it to black and white of the 50’s. It’s not a fair comparison, the technology didn’t allow for them to show things in its true splendor. I play both the old and new video games and based on my experience, I just don’t see a difference between the ages. There are great games today that have great gameplay, are very challenging and have all the great elements that make a great video game. Those same elements existed back in the classic age of gaming.

Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video game Trading card? 

Yes I did. When I saw the LIFE Magazine spread with all the players at the bottom of the page standing in front of their respective games with the stats and all, I always thought that one day gamers would get their own trading cards like real sports athletes. It was at that same time I felt gaming was officially at the sports level. I was like, “look it’s in the magazines!” It was only a matter of time before the world would have to accept that competitive video games are a real thing. It took a while; 30 something years to be exact, but it’s happening now.

Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card?  If so, where?

Well the only media coverage a person would get for having a trading card is media from the trading card industry I suppose. If we’re going off that then the answer is yes. Trading cards are considered, dynamic collectibles and it was none other than Beckett that did an article on the trading card set back in 2012. They took some quotes from myself and Walter and even had some pictures in the Article.  Each year the interest in it becomes more and more serious. Last year I was at a trading card show in Allentown, Pennsylvania with Walter Day, Richie Knuckles, Joel West and others. Beckett was there for the first time to grade and certify the first 500 video game trading cards; well to my knowledge anyway. I got three of my cards in that 500 card set to be certified and graded. I’m proud to be a part of that history. As competitive gaming aka eSports continues its juggernaut momentum around the world as an emerging industry after 35 years… the value of these first 500 trading cards will be astronomical, not just financial worth but in historic equitable value as well.

Triforce 2009 first print circus card       TriForce2442     TriForce315

When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?

I first met Walter Day in 2008 and the location was at Fun Spot. This was my first year attending their annual Twin Galaxies Classic Gaming Tournament. I went to this event to specifically meet Walter Day for the first time after hearing about him all my life growing up in gaming.

If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?

Father; I mean this specifically for gamers in the competitive gaming scene, Walter is our Father. If you look at his history and what he did with Twin Galaxies and how he set up everything, mentored some of the world’s first champions then you’d agree without question that the word “Father” is the word that best describes him.  Walter’s vision gave us direction in competitive gaming over the years. We grew up and for some of us followed through with that direction. Look at Billy Mitchell; he’s a prime example of that. When I look at Walter and Billy, I think Father and Son. Sounds corny; but look at them; interact with them and you’ll come to that same conclusion. For me he’s my Grandfather. He even has me as his Grandson on Facebook. Yeah I know, that too is kind of corny but I really appreciate the sentiment. Let me give you an example of the father experience I remember with Walter. There was a time we went on a trip to Chicago to go on NBC, it was myself, Walter, Ben Gold, Todd Rogers, Steve Sanders and Billy and the feeling I got from them during this trip was like, these are all Walter’s sons grown up. No disrespect to their actual biological fathers but I’m speaking directly about their relationship with Walter in gaming. They make jokes about one another, talk about old times and even have heated debates but one thing is for sure, they all love him and protect him like sons. As his grandson, I completely relate to that and that is why I use the word Father. Well that and he is the father of competitive gaming, now known as eSports. So you have that as well to reinforce my point.

Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?

I am still involved with gaming today. More so now than ever to be honest. I’m the CEO and Founder of one of the oldest gaming teams in history. My team is called Empire Arcadia. If you’re talking about oldest active? Then I would say we’re in the top 5 oldest eSports team today. As an organization we develop various elements and markets in gaming through competitive gaming. Whether that may be Fashion, Art, Music, Media, Technology, Competition, Education etc. in gaming we use our involvement in the gaming community and culture to promote, market and even advertise aspects of gaming around the world. We’ve been around for a very long time. So long that we’re certified by Guinness World Record as the Most Documented Tournament Winning Video Game Team in the world.

Empire Arcadia Team Card

What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?

The Nintendo 3DS is by far my favorite portable gaming system. I’ve enjoyed the games I played on it more than any other portable gaming system. Keep in mind I stood in a line for days outside of Best Buy waiting for the launch of the system. The fact that with the virtual console I’m able to play some of my favorite games in the past and the system gives me new games of the present you just can’t beat that.


Do you prefer PC or Console gaming and why?

I must have this boring and neutral personality when it comes to stuff like this but honestly… it doesn’t matter to me. As long as the game is good, then I’ll play it, no matter what platform the game is on. Now don’t get me wrong, I do have a preference, (which is what you asked) and I preferably like console but only because I was raised on playing video games primarily on a home console system. Although, I have played video games on every single platform known to date; console, PC, tablet, mobile smart phones, handheld and arcade. VR is next.

What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?

Today I play whatever I come across and or have the time for. I’m all over the place of recent and as a result of my duty to Empire Arcadia I unfortunately don’t really have the time to pick and choose what games I like and or want to play. I usually get tips from my friends on what game is good and that I should try out. Then from there I just keep those games in mind and try them out when I come across them or even have the time to play.

TriForce2251     TriForce2257

If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why? 

Ugh… that is so hard. There are so many great classic arcade games that I would love to own. Honestly I can’t answer that. I can give you a list of arcade games that I love to play. Strider, Bad Dudes, Black Tiger, Vs. Super Mario Bros. Contra, Super Contra, MERCS, Mortal Kombat 1&2, Golden Axe, Bubble Bobble, Mario Bros, Tetris oh man… this list could go on and on. Honestly if I could, I would just own an arcade period.

Growing up were you team Sega or Nintendo and why?

My legal name is TriForce. I’ll leave it at that.

What does it take to be a Video Game Journalist?

Ha! In today’s age of media, I simply go with the popular opinion, which clearly isn’t journalism in any way shape or form. If you look at the meaning of journalism you’ll find it means “the collection and editing of news for presentation through media.” Notice it says nothing about sensationalism or popular opinion. Unfortunately that is what gets clicks and readers so what can be done about that today? If that is what the readers want then that is what it is.

Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?

Video games have always aimed at every single demographic in the world regardless of race, creed, age or any of that. Video games are too powerful to be focused to any one group of anyone or thing.

Do you believe some Video Games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?

I believe that video games can be very violent, like many books, movies, music etc. However it has nothing to do with the violence in America today. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Video game provide an outlet from the violence that America faces today.

Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?

I love social gaming. I rather play video games with a friend or in a social environment. I guess it’s the “arcade” spirit in me. I’ve always loved the social gathering of people because of games. I like playing games with other people providing it’s casual of course to just have a good time and have fun. That is one of the great things about video games that a lot of people miss out on. It’s also one of the big issues with the gaming industry that only Nintendo seems to understand and get right.


Which company makes the best games and why?

Nintendo, hands down. They know how to make games in almost any dimension as they service the entire “family”. From child to adult, Nintendo makes fun and entertaining games for everyone of all ages to enjoy. This is not to say that other companies can’t or don’t make fun and entertaining games, but it is to say that they don’t do well at it for diverse demographic. They usually do it for one age group or demographic of gamers and that’s really it.

Do you learn anything from playing video games?

All the time. A lot of life lessons are emulated in gaming based through fictional stories and if delve deep enough into them then you’ll come away with a life lesson. Ogre Battle 64, WinBack, Metal Gear Solid series or Final Fantasy Tactic; have you ever played those games before? When you get to the end of those games you’ll learn lessons relevant to life “TODAY”! Sadly, I sometimes learn more about life from a video game than I do from mainstream news; Terrible.

Are video games good for relieving stress?

Yes, as I mentioned earlier, video games are a big outlet to relive oneself from a lot of stress. Whether you want to be aggressive and destroy something or just plain have fun to change your mood, video games is the outlet. For me, Tetris is that outlet; it’s probably the main reason why I can endure the issues in society today.

Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?

No. Video games are its own platform to tell its story. If we want to see it in movie format, then I suggest the video game industry start incorporating film media “IN” their games. No need to give it to Hollywood. Let me ask you and the readers of this interview a question. Would you trust Hollywood with telling the story to your favorite video game series, or would you rather play it out in the game with “Hollywood” standard movie visuals? I think the answer is obvious here, just in case you didn’t get my answer the first time, No!

What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’? The Digital Realm.

Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?

Tied… it’s between Link and Mario. What makes them special to me is that I can relate to their never ending adventures. I’m a romantic. I love the whole rescuing the princess theme.

Where do you see Video gaming in the next 20 years?

I see video games as the most powerful entertainment platform in the world; having extensive influence in media, sports and music. I thought this back in the 1990’s and still do think this today. By the looks of it, I’ll be right and we won’t have to wait 20 years. Four more years may be enough to make my opinion, Fact.

Todd Friedman Todd Friedman (402 Posts)

Todd Friedman is heavily involved in the retro gaming community and has co-promoted the Video Game Summit in Chicago, IL for the past 16 years. He also has published 2 books and written for various different gaming magazines including Old School Gamer.