Trading Card Spotlight "Rewind" - Tom Asaki
We are rewinding back to an interview I did with Tom Asaki back in September of 2016. Tom was kind enough to spend some time answering my questions and contributing to the Walter Day Trading Card Spotlight. I hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.
Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Tom Asaki who is displayed on card number 1046, from the Superstars of 2014 Collection. As one of the founding members of the U.S. National Video Game Team, Tom is one of the original players at the Twin Galaxies arcade in the early 1980’s. He was the first to attempt the billion score in Nibbler, with a final score of 838 million points. He can be seen in the documentary Man vs. Snake showcasing his Nibbler memories. Tom’s game of choice and the game that he held the first record on is Ms. Pac-Man with a total score of 681,130.
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I met Walter at Twin Galaxies Arcade in the summer of 1983. I had come to Ottumwa to demonstrate that my reported Ms. Pac-Man scores were real. I found a friend in Walter and spent some of the summer and autumn with Walter and Billy Mitchell.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
Arcades. Friends. Quarters. Meeting Challenges. Hitchhiking.
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
I first played video games in Wilsall Montana, a town of about 250 people. The locals had two options, both of which were bars with one or two games. It was in the Bank Bar that I first met Ms. Pac-Man. I never cared for the bar, but the video games provided an escape from the short and cold winter days.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a Video game Trading card?
Such an idea never crossed my mind. Ever. I never thought that playing video games would ever attain the title of “sport”.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the Trading Card? If so, where?
Nope. Walter Day did ask me to make an appearance a year or two back, but I was unable to attend.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older, classic games?
I am not very familiar with how video games have evolved over the last few decades. I do remember my own disappointment with two or three changes that happened in the 80s: the appearance of games that continued when more quarters were inserted; preponderance of violent games; and too many spin-off games. Ok, four … the emergence of home gaming systems was inevitable, but changed the social scene aspects forever.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
I have never owned such a thing and very rarely played on any!
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
The only games I play are classic arcade games when I happen to find them and happen to be in the mood.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
Ms. Pac-Man or Nibbler. The first to show to myself that I can compete with the best of the best. The second to see if I can actually finish my quest for the billion.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I prefer to play alone in the company of friends. Gaming has mostly been about me versus machine.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
I always found video games to be a proving ground for scientific and mathematical thought. I always wanted to understand the details of a game through experimentation. Video games fueled the logical scientist in me.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
For me, yes. I think it depends on one’s personality. For some, video games are stressful and encourage anger.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
I have not been involved in gaming since the Ironman Competition in Vancouver, BC in 1985.