Nintendo may be in a battle for supremacy in the gaming industry at the moment, but there was a time when, in North America at least, the company was truly on top. With NES and Game Boy flying off the shelves in 1990, this period of pop-culture dominance was perhaps best represented by the Nintendo World Championships 1990. This was an event that attracted plenty of attention, with the finalists receiving a limited edition game cart that has since become one of the most expensive items of gaming memorabilia available today.
Video game historian Patrick Scott Patterson recently caught up with the only female finalist, Heather Martin. Now Heather Ireland and mother of two in Texas, she looked back on the experience and explained how it almost never happened, and the low-profile aftermath.
It was one of my cousins that lived in Gainesville, TX that actually learned about the Nintendo World Championships. Our parents took us both to the competition in Dallas and neither one made it through. Our parents decided to take us to the Oklahoma City competition for one last chance.
I went to school afterwards and chose not to tell anyone at the time. Weeks went by until one of the boys at school brought the Nintendo Power magazine that it was in to school and asked me about it and showed everyone. They all asked why I had not said anything about it. Honestly I don't know why.
The famous gray NES cart was part of the prize, though Ireland was surprised by the reaction when it became available for sale years later.
I don't recall playing it once I returned home. My parents put it up because they recalled someone saying these carts would be a collector's item someday. The response I received from people interested in buying it was somewhat overwhelming.
Although the game cart has been sold, Ireland has kept her trophy and name-plate from the event, though thankfully she took the chance to pose with the game before it departed for an undoubtedly keen collector. The only female finalist in a gaming competition in 1990, an accolade to enjoy.