Arcade gamer looking to set Nibbler record in Logan Square

  • Photo courtesy of Logan hardware.
Photo courtesy of Logan hardware.
November 12, 2012|By Mick Swasko, @mickswasko

There are plenty of gamers bragging about 12-hour Halo 4 benders this week. But in a dimly lit arcade in Logan Square, Rick Carter is putting those marathon gaming sessions to shame.

Carter, who hails from the Baltimore area, has left his seat in Logan Hardware’s arcade for no more than 10 minutes at a time in the last 24 hours, as he chases the “Nibbler” arcade world record. His goal: Score more than 1.04 billion points, which will likely take more than 50 hours.

“It’s a real mental game he’s playing right now,” said Jim Zespy, owner of Logan Hardware, a record shop and vintage arcade. 

Carter’s efforts are being closely monitored by Mark Alpiger, the de facto authority on certifying world records set on classic arcade machines. He runs classicarcadegaming.com, and was featured in the 2007 documentary “King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters,” which chronicled gamers as the battled for the all-time high score in Donkey Kong.

The entire effort is being recorded and live streamed online, (use the password "nibble" to view) and Zespy said gamers from as far as Michigan and Wisconsin have driven in since he began Sunday to watch Carter chase the record. Zespy said Carter has been watching a laptop next to the cabinet while he plays, and has been interacting with viewers in the live-streams chat room as he pursues the record.

“We take it really seriously, so everyone knows this is a bona fide world record,” Zespy said. What does that mean? For one, Carter can only take breaks ten minutes at a time. Even that’s a challenge. He must save up enough extra lives in the game to be able to step away, as leaving the machine means losing a life at the rate of four per minute. Currently, the world record stands at about 1,042,000,000 points. As of about 3 p.m. Monday, Carter had racked up more than 600,000,000.

What exactly is Nibbler? Zespy explains it’s just like Snake (common on most anyone’s first cell phone) mixed with Pacman. A snake is maneuvered around a maze and eats “croutons,” making it grow longer in the process. From there, it’s an endless set of screens and mazes which Carter has all but memorized the patterns for. Zespy said his chances of success really depends on how long he can stay focused.

“It depends on how long his eyes hold out as well as his mind,” he said.

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