Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Ellis Rowland, who is displayed on card number 42, from the Superstars of 2011 Collection. Ellis is proud of his world record at the arcade game Eagle. His score of 274,970 was posted on the leaderboard on July 16, 2011 and no one has beat it since. Growing up in the arcade boom of the 80’s, Ellis played a lot of Asteroids. He has posted some others score on arcade games such as Bump N’ Jump and Defender. He also added a high score on Mario Kart for the Nintendo Wii. Living in New Jersey, Ellis remains involved in the gaming scene through his son, who he takes to gaming tournaments and roots him on.
Do you believe some video games are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Introducing people to bad ideas is not something we seem to avoid. The media takes a local tragedy and sends it out for 300 million people to see and while most of us are appalled, one out of every 5-10 million people see the news and get inspired to do the same. The law of large numbers in society I suppose. Video game violence is usually like cartoon violence. We know it is fake even if the graphics are great. Still one out of every million or so people is dumb enough to try something they saw in a cartoon so who knows.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of video games? How do you compare them to older classic games?
The challenges to "beat" a game were far less time consuming. I don’t know. So many games today are never ending "get to the next level--get the next item." There was something far more satisfying with the old games, because if you got good enough you could take everything that game had for only a quarter. Many of today’s games are never ending. You can never truly "win".
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a video game trading card?
I never thought I'd be on a video game card. My dreams were baseball, or a rock star, or astronaut. Or take the Asteroids record. This is something I dreamed about in 1980-1981, but never dreamed of the card.
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading card? If so, where?
I received no media coverage for the card except for what was in Ottumwa at Walter's trading card event (2010), or also at a trading card show in Allentown. Walter, Billy Mitchell and a few dozen of us were there.
When did you first meet Walter day and where was it at?
I first met Walter Day in 2008 at Funspot's annual tournament. I had just seen King of Kong and dusted off my old Eagle machine (I officially broke the record that year--yea me.) Right away he was very friendly and welcoming. Walter is a great guy.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
One word to describe Walter is "Driven". He is a visionary, but not just a dreamer. He dreams the dream, but he also motivates and makes things happen (we could also use words like "great", but we don't want him to get a big head.)
Do you remember your first video game / arcade you played and what do you remember about it?
The first video game I remember playing was the home version of Pong in the 1970's (before Atari 2600.) The first video game arcade that I remember seeing was a head to head football game, but breakout was the first that I put a quarter into.
What is your favorite portable gaming device and why?
My favorite portable is the Switch. Modern gaming plus older games for download, plus being able to go big screen is hands down, the Switch.
Do you prefer PC or console gaming and why?
I go for console gaming and usually avoid PC, I collect games and systems, aside from the Xbox One I have just about everything console based. Got to draw the line somewhere and I somehow wound up on the console side of things.
What games today do you play and what are your favorite genres of games?
I've been playing a ton of Fortnite on PS4 lately, just a month or two ago my oldest son and I were playing Mario Kart Double Dash. Both kids are playing the new smash game right now. My favorite genre is action adventure. You've got to love the Zelda games and Zombie games.
If you could own one arcade game or pinball game, what would it be and why?
If I could have just one arcade it would be I, Robot. I always felt that game had a lot more for me to discover, but I never had enough opportunities to play it.
Which console company is your favorite and why? Nintendo, Sony, Sega, or Microsoft?
My favorite console company is Nintendo. A very family-oriented line up so it was something I could share with my kids.
What is your favorite single player game and favorite multiplayer game?
Right now, my favorite single player game is probably ZombieU (I know, a lot of people think that game is horrible, but I really enjoy it.) Multi player right now is Fortnite but playing just about any Mario game with family/friends will likely go back to the number one spot for me after (if) the Fortnite hype ends.
How does video game music influence games past and present?
Game music in the past was much simpler and easier to identify, I think. One thing is for sure, there were times that I have been stuck on a level and had to hear the same music over and over. I now get a bad response to that sound (think ice world in Mario 3)
Are video games aimed mainly at children, adolescents or adults?
Video games are aimed mostly at the kids still even though adult gamers likely outnumber gamers under 18. Enough adult gamers are still kids at heart, so it all works out.
Do you prefer playing video games alone, against friends or online against the world and why?
I like playing with people to make things social. Adding the rest of the world for online gaming is cool, but not quite the same. That being said I also like playing ZombieU with nobody else around. It scares the hell out of me!
Which company makes the best games and why?
Capcom is great, but I really can't single out just one company.
Do you learn anything from playing video games?
What I've learned from playing video games is that time really flies when I'm playing. Not so much else in most cases.
Are video games good for relieving stress?
Relieving stress? A fun game like Mario Kart maybe, but most games are challenging which I think can add to stress if you are already stressed.
Do you like it when Hollywood makes a movie from the video game?
Most video game inspired movies stink. I watch them anyway.
Who is your favorite video game character and what makes that character special?
Q*bert. If you have to ask what makes him special, then you should probably look at him again.
What springs to mind when you hear the term ‘video games’?
When I think "video games" I think old school cartridges--Atari, Sega Genesis, NES, etc.
Of these five elements video games, which is the most important to you and why? Gameplay, Atmosphere, Music, Story or art style
All of those elements come into play. Gameplay is number one, I guess.
Do you find boss battles to be the best part of a video game?
Getting to the Bosses is as rewarding as beating the bosses. Sometimes the bosses are just a hassle to me, and I want to get back to the regular gameplay.
If you can design your own game, what would it be about and who would be the main character?
I'd design a challenging adventure game, futuristic space or zombies maybe. The main character would be somewhat generic, that way the player can sink into the role as himself/herself.
Are you still involved with gaming today, and what role do you play?
My youngest son, Quinn that some of you may remember from Funspot, the Big Bang in IA plays competitive Smash Bros. The part that I play in gaming today is that I get to drive him to tournaments. He has a decent rank in the region and he and his partner are unstoppable in doubles. Aside from that I collect, buy and sell games. I have a decent retro collection and I help other collectors by selling the doubles I find.
Where do you see video gaming in the next 20 years?
We are already at a point where social media has met video gaming. Hopefully it will advance and consolidate around a few platforms, but who knows.