Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Pete “NukeAloiD” Corpeny, who currently is displayed on card number 3489, from the Superstars of 2020 Collection. Pete is an exceptionally good arcade marathon player. In the 1980’s, Pete could be seen playing such games as Asteroids and BattelZone for almost 24 hours on one quarter. In 1983 Pete was invited to be on a team of gamers and compete in Boston. At that time, he established the world record on Q*Bert. Pete was one of the first gamers to be paid to travel and compete. You could say he paved the way for eSports gaming that occurs today.
What is your opinion on today’s marathon players, which also includes consoles?
Today’s marathon players are many times more hardcore than I ever was. Back in the day, 8 hours was considered a long time and 24 hours was considered a marathon. Now, it seems that 24 hours is when the marathon begins, and 48-72+ hours is when it ends. It’s crazy. Whether it was back in the 80’s or today, the challenge with a marathon session is keeping mentally alert. I’ve always felt the physical draw on the body can be dealt with, but the mental fatigue is ridiculous. Today’s marathoners are next level for sure.
What is a good story you can tell about the early arcade era in the 1980’s?
I don’t know of just one story that could represent that era except to say I wish everyone could experience the feeling of walking into a legit 80’s arcade and hear the mix of sounds coming from the different games blending with the music of the jukebox,and the smell of new carpet mixed with the ozone-like odor of the burn-in of the new machines. If the arcade offered food like cheeseburgers and fries it was a total attack on all five of your senses. It was awesome. I am blessed to be part of that generation.
Yes, today they have “barcades” and retro venues but very few of those come close to the real thing from back in the day.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
Today’s games are amazing but, to me, it’s all relative to the generation you grew up in. I have so many nostalgic feelings thinking back to the arcade and playing Battlezone, Asteroids, Q*Bert, etc., where you were playing against the program and AI.
I work with a younger generation who look back at playing Halo CE in their homes with four players crowded around a small CRT tv trying to outwit each other. Graphics aside, battling AI versus battling people are two completely different experiences.
I love games like Halo but nothing will replace the memories of meeting my friends at the arcade on a Friday night with the sole purpose of figure out another pattern or how to get to a higher level than we did last time.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
The thought of a trading card never crossed my mind but, honestly, I did used to dream about being in the Guinness Book of World Records…but never due to playing a video game. You must remember that, back then, books like the Guinness Book were basically our internet…where we could find out all the cool stuff around the world. So, to actually be in the book is realizing my boyhood dream. And, yes, I am old enough to state that books were our internet.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first met Walter in early Spring of 1983 in Ottumwa. Steve Sanders and I took a weekend road trip from Kansas City to Ottumwa so I could meet Walter and see the famous Twin Galaxies Arcade.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
“Inimitable”, which basically means one-of-a-kind. There’s only one Walter Day and he can never be replaced. His vision, perseverance, and dedication to the video game industry over the last 40 years will never be duplicated. He is a completely selfless person, and his work has been a true labor of love. The man is a gaming icon.
When did you first play Q*Bert and what do you remember about it?
I think Q*Bert was out around 1982 and I played it the day it was unboxed at the arcade. I instantly liked it because of the 45° directional controller and 3-D concept and, when you played it long enough it started playing tricks on your eyes as everything could appear inverted. I also remember there was a level…maybe 22 or 24…that was more difficult than the others but, once you completed that level, you could settle into marathon mode. I honestly think I haven’t played Q*Bert since the summer of ’83. Man, that was a long time ago.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
In my area, in the mid to late 70s, bowling alleys were the first “arcades”. The first game I remember playing is the original Pong arcade console (with the yellow face) at the bowling alley. I was around 8 or 9 years old and thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. Another early game was Gun Fight where you could move your cowboy vertically on the screen. Who knew animation could be so good? Saturday morning bowling followed by a couple games of Gun Fight and Eight Ball pinball with my dad brings back some awesome memories.
What is the longest you have played a game and why did you choose that game?
The longest I ever played a game was the PC game Might and Magic III, which I played for 36 hours straight. That was back around 1991. I had just built a new gaming computer (which would be laughed at now but back then it was cutting edge) and MM3 was the newest PC release. My new setup was the equivalent of going from a first-generation Nintendo to an Xbox 360. I started on a Friday night and played until Sunday morning as I could not get enough of the graphics, sound, and speed of the computer. Plus, I absolutely loved the Might and Magic franchise. As far as PC games go, the Might and Magic series will always be my favorite.
The longest for an arcade game, solo, was Asteroids for 12 hours…just to see if I could do it. I had played with friends, taking turns on different games for 24 hours but, 12 hours on Asteroids was officially my longest. Back in 1983, I was set for a 24-hour run on Q*Bert and the arcade that was hosting me lost power at the 13-hour mark (due to a thunderstorm). I just stared blankly in the dark room and when the realization finally set in, I just walked out and drove home. I never attempted another “marathon” after that.
If you could own one arcade game, what would it be and why?
It would be Q*Bert, hands down, because that’s where the memories are. I have looked for original or restored arcade consoles and they do exist, but they are few and far between. Someday, I shall own one.
Which arcade company made the best games in your opinion?
That is such a loaded question as there were so many good games by different manufacturers. If I must rank the top 3 in order, objectively…in my opinion…they would be Namco/Midway, Atari, Nintendo.
What does it take to be a world record holder on an arcade game?
In my case it was getting lucky and being in the right place at the right time. Yes, I had to have some skill but the series of events that led me to becoming friends with Steve Sanders, then meeting Walter Day, then having my father support my joining the Electronic Circus, then being present for the first Masters Tournament, etc., is what allowed me to have the first official world record on Q*Bert.
Nowadays, it appears the potential record holder must be totally committed and driven as there is a lot more competition throughout the world.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Personally, I feel there are some games that are too violent. However, I do not feel that they truly lead to violence in America.
Do I believe some games inspire the wrong actions in some people?
Yes, but the argument can probably made that anything taken out of context could lead to inappropriate behavior.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Absolutely. Being able to lose yourself in a game for an hour or two can be great therapy when you want to put things aside for a while. Unfortunately, certain games can also cause one to rage quit which simply amplifies the stress they were trying to leave behind. So, choose your game wisely.
What was the feeling to be part of the first paid Esports team back in the 1980’s?
My part-time job was bussing tables and to go from that to making more money playing games was a dream come true. I never thought gaming would be my career as I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I mean, Esports wasn’t even a thing back then. Even though the event ultimately tanked, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. We had a great time, and we can always say, to my knowledge, we were the first professional players, under contract, competing in a public venue. With all things, there’s always a first, and it does mean something to know that I was part of that first group of professional players.
What was your ultimate goal for doing marathon runs on an arcade game?
Honestly, it was to save money. I guess I was more frugal than competitive. If my dad gave me $5 for the arcade, I wanted to play all afternoon then have enough to buy a burger and fries when I was done. I liked seeing my initials as the high score but when funds were low it was all about making each quarter or token count.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
It’s Q*Bert. Not just because of the record but because he was such a unique character. I mean, what’s not to like about a bouncy orange-ball-of-a-creature that cusses when he’s pissed off? That dude was the entire package.
What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘Asteroids’?
Oh man, I immediately think about how Asteroids was the first “destination” game I would play. By that I mean I would travel to specific arcades or convenience stores to find an open Asteroids machine. If one machine was taken, I would drive to the next location. Asteroids started it all with respect to marathon games. I knew several people who could marathon Asteroids, but the true test of Asteroids was how good you were at “shoot’em up” …meaning you could only score by shooting asteroids and not farm spaceships. You could shoot a ship during normal gameplay, but you could not farm points by shooting multiple ships. Being good at “shoot’em up” was the badge of honor. Just thinking of Asteroids makes me smile. It was always a great feeling to get that perfect 999,990 score on the top of the leader board.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
For arcade games my favorite single player game is Q*Bert (shocker) and my favorite multiplayer game was Wizard of Wor.
For PC games my favorite single player game is Skyrim, and my favorite multiplayer game is Halo.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
Today I play various games on console and a few PC games. I like Halo, Sea of Thieves, and Skyrim but will try any game for a bit just to see if I like it. I’m more of an Xbox guy because I like playing Halo with my friends.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
How about a game where a man tirelessly travels across the globe, capturing multiple high scores from all known video games, and recording them on a giant illuminated scoreboard for all to gaze upon and bask in the marvel of its glory? The main character would, of course, be Walter Day.
Are you still involved with competitive gaming today, and what are your goals?
No, no more competitive gaming. I’m now 55 years old and my vision and reflexes just aren’t what they used to be. I like playing Halo online with my friends, but I am more of an assist machine than any real threat to our competition. My mantra is, “NukeAloiD, the ultimate meat shield. Too old to run and too fat to hide!”.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
I feel gaming will continue to follow the path of Virtual Reality. In 20 years, the concept of the Oasis in the movie Ready Player One will probably be realized.
This is one of an ongoing series of articles based on the Walter Day Collection of e-sports/video gaming trading cards – check out more information at thewalterdaycollection.com.