Twenty-five years ago today, I entered the Nintendo World Championships. A lanky, bespectacled 10-year-old, I sought affirmation that these video games I'd already dedicated my short life to would not make me a social pariah — that my skill and dedication to this new digital pastime could earn me some measure of respect.
I may not have walked out of that arena a winner, but it was the first time I had ever been surrounded by so many people who shared my passion for games. I realized I was not alone, that it could be awesome to be a geek. When I walked out of that arena, I left the competition behind: games were no longer about being better, but about being together. Despite what some may think, the health of the art form is encouraged with each new gamer we bring into the fold. Games are for everyone — and when everyone realizes that, we've won.
I've already lengthily shared my memories of that April day in 1990, and I have little more insight to offer today. Instead, I'd like to share some of the physical artifacts of that moment when we were all striving to be The Wizard. For the first time, here are high-resolution scans of what I went home with that weekend — click any thumbnail to get the PDF.
This "Insider's Guide to the NWC" program was distributed to attendees of the Nintendo World Championships in the spring of 1990. It featured previews of upcoming games and tips for titles such as Castlevania III, Lolo 2, Wrath of the Black Manta, Bases Loaded II, Xexyz, and more.
An admission ticket to the first round
A letter of acceptance to the semi-finals
A VIP badge to enter the semi-finals
A certificate signed by Howard Phillips and Mario
A gift certificate — part of my prize package (or a photocopy)
I also found some wearable mementos while digging through my parents' basement:
Gaming competitions, having evolved into e-sports, have come a long way — whereas the gaming community still has a ways to go. Let's try to remember those days when we all knew how to get along.