More than 3,500 people, including U.S. Rep David Loebsack and Iowa Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, attended a kickoff event today for the International Video Games Hall of Fame, which Ottumwa, Iowa leaders plan to build in their community.
Chris Hoeksema, a member of the Hall's exploratory committee, said the 3,500 figure represented those who donated cash to the cause, or video games and consoles that were set up in the Bridge View Center, Ottumwa's 95,000 square-foot events hall, to be played during the daylong celebration of gaming and Ottumwa's ties to it. The actual attendance figure is likely much larger, Hoeksema said.
"It's really been amazing," Hoeksema said. "We were not expecting this much outpouring of support from the community and the state. And the entire world, really. We've had donations from overseas and some people flew in from the United Kingdom to attend. It's been an amazing amount of support."
Ottumwa's claim as video gaming's ancestral home is rooted in the arcade days of the early 1980s. Kotaku profiled it extensively in April. The International Video Game Hall of Fame is modeling itself loosely on Cooperstown, N.Y. as a small-town representative of a much larger phenomenon. The Video Game Hall's steering committee now has more than 35 members and five subcommittees, with the full support of Ottumwa's city council and chamber of commerce. The committee envisions a Hall of Fame eventually costing between $30 million and $50 million.