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Video Game Hall Of Fame To Open In Iowa

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Video Game Hall Of Fame To Open In Iowa

Technology

Video Game Hall Of Fame To Open In Iowa

Video Game Hall Of Fame To Open In Iowa

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The International Video Game Hall of Fame gets its kickoff this week in the town of Ottumwa, Iowa. Melissa Block talks to Mayor Dale Uehling about his hopes that the hall will grow into a Cooperstown-scale tourist attraction. There's no building for the Hall of Fame yet, but there is a four-day festival called Big Bang 2010. Organizers are expecting as many as 5,000 people to attend.

MICHELE NORRIS, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

(Soundbite of video game, "Pac-Man")

BLOCK: Pac-Man, that voracious yellow video gobbler, is heading for high honors this week. He will be among those inducted into the International Video Game Hall of Fame. The ceremony will be held in Ottumwa, Iowa, which has claimed the title Video Game Capital of the World since 1982. Now, the city wants to take its fame to the next level and make some extra tourist cash.

Dale Uehling is Ottumwa's mayor. He joins us from city hall. Welcome to the program.

Mayor DALE UEHLING (Ottumwa, Iowa): Happy to be with you.

BLOCK: And Ottumwa, the Video Game Capital of the World, according to whom?

Mayor UEHLING: Well, according to what has happened back in the 1980s. We had a Twin Galaxies, which was an arcade, and Walter Day, who began to keep the high scores for the different games. And Twin Galaxies has continued to be kind of the official scorekeeper of the high games.

So the governor made a proclamation, and the mayor, that Ottumwa was the kind of the video capital of the world, or at least of the United States. And so we've been pursuing the concept of developing a museum and hall of fame to go along with the fact that we're claiming that Ottumwa is the Video Gaming Capital of the World.

BLOCK: And who would dispute you, I suppose?

Mayor UEHLING: Well, we haven't had anyone yet.

BLOCK: There's still time.

Mayor UEHLING: We're looking at this from the standpoint that Cooperstown, you know, has become a very prominent tourist attraction.

BLOCK: For the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mayor UEHLING: Right, and we're larger than Cooperstown. We're actually a town of 25,000 and have a pretty good highway system. We're on a four-lane highway. You know, we feel that we're in a good location. We're on Amtrak. And so we're just going to continue to work on this hall of fame. It's going to be several years before we get that constructed, but in the meantime, we're going to have different events.

BLOCK: So you'll be inducting the Video Game Hall of Fame, but there is no actual physical hall of fame at this point.

Mayor UEHLING: We do not have a hall of fame, but we have an event center, which will be kind of our headquarters, and we will have a whole host of things going on. There's going to be a place set up for bringing your own computers and having competition there, which will go on all night if they want to.

BLOCK: How many people are you expecting in Ottumwa for this event this week?

Mayor UEHLING: Well, we're hoping that there'll be somewhere in excess of 3,000, hopefully up towards 5,000. So, a lot of activities, and we'll be actually dedicating what we call Central Park as the Pac-Man Park. The founder and manufacturer of "Pac-Man" will be here on Friday.

BLOCK: Now, Pac-Man Park just for this week or forever?

Mayor UEHLING: Well, it's, at this point, temporary. We have a process that we have to go through if we're going to change the name of a park. And right now, it will be Central Park with a sign that also says Pac-Man Park.

BLOCK: Mayor Uehling, do you think you'll be tempted to sit down this week and play some "Pac-Man," play some "Donkey Kong"?

Mayor UEHLING: Well, I may try it. It'll depend on how things go and how much time I have. I really have never gotten into video games. I'm lucky to I guess be able to use my computer as much as I do and get my emails and that type of thing.

BLOCK: Yeah, well, good luck.

Mayor UEHLING: All right, thank you.

BLOCK: That's Mayor Dale Uehling of Ottumwa, Iowa, talking about Big Bang 2010. That's the city's video game festival. This year, they're honoring 28 gamers and game creators, along with the classic game "Pac-Man" being inducted into the new International Video Game Hall of Fame.

(Soundbite of video game, "Pac-Man")

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