If you hear the words “professional video game player”, you probably picture somebody who is, well, the exact opposite of awesome. As fair or unfair as that is (sorry professional video game players!), that’s what happens.
Unless you did the smart thing and pictured Mr. Awesome, the most awesome professional video game player the world has ever seen.
Mr. Awesome, aka Roy Shildt, may be familiar to some of you from his cameo in 2007 documentary King of Kong, in which he plays a minor, background role. Which was stupid. If you’re sitting down to make a video game documentary, and you’re making it about a Regular Joe and a villain whose most distinguishing feature is the fact he wears a tie, you’re making a terrible mistake.
We should instead have had a documentary called Shildt Happens. It would have been, well, awesome.
Why? Because Roy Shildt is crazy. In a mostly good way. In 1983 the body-builder and fitness guru recorded the planet’s highest recognised score on Missile Command. His new-found “fame”, on a game he called “macho” and which has “phallic associations“, sent him on a journey of proto-reality-TV madness that, viewed from the safety of 2012, seems almost prophetic.
Given the nickname “Mr. Awesome” following his feats, Shildt got it in his head that he could, and should, be a celebrity. To achieve his goal, he set out on a journey of ceaseless self-promotion, releasing books, doing interviews and trying to get his name in as many papers and his face on as many TV sets as was humanly possible.
Which in the beginning wasn’t hard, because Shildt had suddenly ceased to be Roy Shildt and had become Mr. Awesome. Designing a military-inspired uniform and driving around Los Angeles in a badass, customised Camaro (complete with MRAWESM plates), he preached to all who would listen an intoxicating mix of regurgitated film quotes, pleas for celebrity, and even some life coaching.
His escapades, which became increasingly irrelevant once the mid-80s slipped into the history books, would ultimately culminate in the release of a book almost nobody read and an appearance on Howard Stern that was, as you’d expect, slightly bizarre. Oh, and he’s been in Playgirl. Twice.
In 1988 he won a contest to appear in the magazine. Which he did, in a mildly NSFW image which you can see here.
A year later he was in the magazine again, not as a model, but because he took out a massive advertisement (in which he was shirtless and standing next to a…ladder), using his real phone number, saying he was available for “bachelorette parties, character roles in motion pictures, Swedish massage, tour guiding and personal fitness training”.
Perhaps the weirdest thing he did, at least that’s on record, is that he sent that issue of Playgirl, along with a letter, to Madonna. In Adam Parfrey’s book Apocalypse Culture II, Shildt reckons that after receiving it Madonna actually called him on the phone. He also speculated that the millionaire pop star had a “desperate need” for his sperm.
As you can see, the guy’s a little unhinged. Not enough to be dangerous, but enough to consistently run that fine line between making you laugh and making you feel a little uneasy.
While it would be easy to assume he then rapidly fades into insignificance, or perhaps even some kind of institution, Shildt’s Missile Command record stood for over 20 years, and was beaten only in 2006. He’s still one of the world’s top three players of the game, and still shooting his mouth off, like when he was kicked out of the gathering of the “International Video Game Hall of Fame” in 2010 for shouting crap at Billy Mitchell.
He is also, last I checked, still awesome.