They gathered in the Minneapolis offices of Game Informer Magazine, swore a solemn oath to the Guinness World Record gods and pressed 'start.' By the end of their quest they would be forever changed.
"I don't want to ever play another moment of Super Smash Bros.," says Jeff Cork.[jump]
The original idea was from associate editor Dan Ryckert. While thumbing through the latest edition of Guinness World Records 2011 Gamer's Edition, he decided the staff at GI ought to take a crack at a record of their own.
"In addition to coming up with dumb ideas, he's kind of lazy," says Cork. "He came up with the one that's easiest to beat."That is, the record for "Longest Fighting Game Marathon," which was set almost exactly a year ago by a group of Penn State students. They played Super Smash Bros. on a Nintendo 64 for 26 hours and 27 minutes straight. Ryckert figured that was small potatoes.
He recruited three other editors -- Cork, and associate editors Tim Turi and Ben Reeves -- and they decided to give it a shot. They stuck with Super Smash Bros. (Brawl for Wii) because four players can fight at once and the gameboards offered plenty of variety. They stocked their office with plenty of pizza, soda and donuts, and worked out a schedule of witnesses -- two at all times -- to watch them through the night.
An official adjudicator from Guinness's U.S. headquarters in New York City flew out to make sure that everything was in order and spell out the official rules. They had to actually be playing the game at all times, not just glazing over with the game on. For every hour played, each player accrued ten minutes of break time to be used as he saw fit. No option screen could be dallied on for longer than 20 seconds.
At 9:10am on Saturday, the four editors fired up the Wii and were off.
Cork managed to play the longest without a break, logging 18 straight hours without getting up off the couch.
"I have a pretty big bladder which is awesome. I'm always talking about it," says Cork.
Then things got hairy. At hour 20, Turi couldn't stop laughing. Reeves slipped into a kind of stream of consciousness blather. And as the clock ticked down on the Penn State students' record, a cranky debate broke out about when to stop -- right after the record was broken or long enough that no one would even attempt to best them?
"Just tell me when to quit, Dan, and I'll put the controller down," Cork snapped.The fellowship was breaking. So they settled on a nice round number. Wilcox returned to observe the finale.
"You'd think they'd start slacking off but they were still trying to beat each other," she says. "Eyes were a little red, but they weren't even slouching that much."
At 3:10 p.m. on Sunday, they crossed the finish line -- 30 hours of continuous play or 474 total matches. Wilcox presented them with a certificate commemorating their historic achievement, and the four heroes went home to get some sleep. If no one beats their time by October of this year, the four will have their names in the Guinness World Records 2012 Gamer's Edition.
Just another day in the life of a videogame magazine editor.
"This job is kind of like a Make-a-Wish foundation for Dan," says Cork. "His life is ridiculous."