It’s not every day one of your friend’s friends makes the Guinness Book of World Records.
We first introduced you to Efren Ballestamon Jr. the day after he won the record for “Longest Gaming on a Tablet” at this year’s E3. I heard about him through my friend and office co-worker Karl, in whose wedding Ballestamon will serve as a groomsmen next month. Shortly before the 31 year-old began his battle for the grand prize in LA, Ballestamon was running on fumes in Vegas for a four-day bender celebrating our mutual buddy’s bachelor party. To catch up on the scoop about his victory, check out our initial announcement here.
After claiming his title and going back to San Diego, where he works as a clerk for Department 11 of the Superior Court, Ballestamon took some time away from processing police reports for minor juvenile offenses to talk to The Game Fanatics about the grueling stretch to success, his aspirations, current hobbies, and how he’s spending his time in the spotlight.
The Game Fanatics: This is your first day back from LA. Have you been contacted by anyone else from the press?
Efren Bellestamon: Qualcomm called me yesterday asking to meet up with me, talking about media coverage and all that. I believe it was Qualcomm or Snapdragon. They actually woke me up and I was kind of groggy… they haven’t contacted me since. I had a couple interviews with Machinima and IMGMR at the location.
TGF: Are you at least caught up on sleep?
EB: I’m gonna say no. I still feel tired and my eyes hurt a little bit. I’ve been trying to find more articles about the event too. There are quite a few, with a lot of wrong info.
TGF: We’ll set the record straight. So are you feeling famous?
EB: Kinda sorta, but I’ll probably be the guy who everyone forgets next week.
TGF: Let’s start off with what games you’re playing, or like to play.
EB: I’m a console gamer, not PC. I have an Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii. Mainly first person shooters. I haven’t been playing any lately, pretty much waiting till Halo 4 comes out. I did play all the Naruto games that came out, not sure if you know anything about anime.
TGF: So what are your favorite games of all time?
EB: All the Zelda games, Halos, Call of Duty and Gears of War games. Rainbow Six 1 and 2. All the Mario games, Marvel vs. Capcom 1 and 2, Battlefield. Um, theres more… too many to name, but you get it. I like that you’re a gamer. Not very many females in the gaming world.
TGF: There are, actually. I think society’s just getting used to the concept now with so many of us “emerging” via social networks and such. I’ve been playing since I was 7.
EB: I tried getting my girlfriend to play. She got bored in like five minutes.
TGF: It might have just been the game. Speaking of which, what’s the game you chose to play for the marathon?
EB: We actually didn’t get to choose. I see articles that say us gamers chose one of five games, but that’s wrong. It was randomly picked. We had to pick a number out of a box. The number you picked determined the game you had to play for 26 hours. I got Blood and Glory, which is a fighting game, kind of like Gladiator. It was pretty fun, for the first hour or two… then next 24 hours were brutal. The cool thing was trying to level up your character by purchasing armor, weapons and all that. But it got hella repetitive.
TGF: You’re not from northern California are you?
EB: I’m not. I just say “hella” a lot
TGF: Me too, that’s why I asked. Anyway, would you rather have been assigned Fruit Ninja?
EB: Hell no, I didnt want Fruit Ninja. [laughs] EVERYONE didn’t want that game.
TGF: So you’re a console gamer, but you used a Samsung Tab to win the competition. Do you own a tablet, or have you ever gamed on one before?
EB: I have the Asus Transformer, but didn’t really game that much on it. My current phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note. I’ve been an Android fanboy for a while. It started with the Samsung Galaxy Captivate, then I got the Dell Streak, then the Samsung Galaxy s2, and now the Note. Before Android, I was a Nokia fanboy. I do game quite a bit on my phones.
TGF: I wonder if we could coin “fanbroid” as the term for an Android fanboy.
EB: Hey, that’s a good one! I’ll make sure that you’re credited with that term, if it’s not one yet.
TGF: Alright. Get to work on that for me, will ya? Mr. Hollywood over there.
EB: Shit, I wish. [pauses] Well no, I take that back. I don’t want be a Hollywood celebrity or anything. I just want to make bank.
TGF: So I take it you have no Macs at home.
EB: Yes. I am anti-Apple.
TGF: This interview is over.
EB: [laughs] I knew it! I was gonna say, don’t hate me if you’re an Apple fan.
TGF: I have a Droid X2, calm down. So tell us what games you play on your phone.
EB: Well for one, I played Homerun Battle 3D a grip when it first came out. That’s why I was guaranteeing the win that Wednesday. I was the only one to score in the 30s. The next highest score was 29… Sorry, I’m going off track. The games I play on my phone are Scramble, Words with Friends, Fruit Ninja, and Find the Difference. The Family Guy game.
TGF: Any Draw Something?
EB: I did play Draw Something, but I suck at drawing. So I had [artist friend] Karl play a couple games for me to make it look like I was badass. Especially when I got the Note, since it has the stylus. Other games are GT Racing, Lair Defense, all the popular Nintendo games. Temple Run.
TGF: Was the NES your first console?
EB: Yup, my aunt gave it to me for a going away present back in 1986 or 85. My dad was stationed in Guam for three years, so she bought me the NES. I played the Atari at my cousin’s in the Philippines.
TGF: Do you consider yourself, or do other people call you, a “gamer”?
EB: Yeah, I consider myself a casual gamer. I’m usually hardcore when new games that I’m really interested in come out. But once the game gets boring, I’m back in casual mode.
TGF: So let’s talk about the contest. How did you hear about it, and what was the qualification process like?
EB: My friend actually sent me the link on Facebook where you sign up, and I did. We had to go to a qualifier in LA a month back. The contestants played GT Racing. I believe there should have been 100 contestants, but a little over 50 showed up. We all played that racing game and the top 50 times moved onto the 26-hour challenge. I made 10th place in the qualifier.
TGF: Nice! And you had already been playing that game, right?
EB: I played it a few times before the qualifier. Practiced a grip at the actual qualifier before it was my turn. I got first place in my group though. Again, 10th overall.
TGF: Did you know anyone in your qualifying group or the final 50?
EB: Just my buddy who sent me the link. He was with me at the 26-hour challenge.
TGF: And how much exactly does your friend want to punch you in the face for winning?
EB: [laughs] I’m actually breaking him down a little piece, so he’s happy. His name is also in the Guinness Book of World Records, but he only hit like, 12 homeruns in the final round. I got 33.
TGF: Wait, homeruns?
EB: Yeah, let me explain something, because a lot of people think I was the only one that got into the Guinness Book of World Records. There were about 30 plus contestants going for the 26-hour challenge. About 26 of us made it to the end. All of our names will be in the Guinness Book of World Records. All the ones who made it to the end of the 26 hours played a game called Homerun Battle 2. Whoever had the most homeruns won.
TGF: But you just played Blood and Glory for the 26 hours.
EB: I played Blood and Glory the WHOLE TIME. Hate that game now [laughs]. Then at the end was Homerun Battle 2.
TGF: They had to give you some kind of breaks throughout the contest. Where you in some kind of trailer or something where could you walk around?
EB: Every hour, we had ten-minute breaks. If we weren’t back in our chairs gaming after the ten-minute break, we’d get disqualified. There were a couple sessions where we gamed for two hours straight, so that we would have a 20-minute break. They served hot food during those. The event took place in a tent in front of the Convention Center. It was pumped with air conditioning—which felt good during the day—but once it hit night, it got hella cold. They provided us with Snapdragon snuggies. I didn’t use the snuggy. The cold made me stay up.
TGF: Is the Samsung Tab that you won the one that you played on?
EB: Nope. They gave me a brand new one, along with a pretty expensive baseball bat. It’s a Demarini. The head guy from com2us told me that it was a special bat. I couldn’t really hear him though, because of all the people screaming.
TGF: How excited were you, as a fanbroid, that it was that kind of tablet?
EB: I was super excited. You used “fanbroid.” But yeah, I actually wanted the Galaxy Tab, and now I have one!
TGF: That’s a nice bat. You better use it on a very worthy zombie.
EB: Right? Speaking of zombies, I am a zombie fanatic. Love all zombie movies.
TGF: Zombies are like the Furby of the new millennium.
EB: Yeah, I’ve always been a zombie fan though. It just so happens that everyone is one now. The 1990 Night of the Living Dead started it for me. The one with Candyman in it.
TGF: [laughs] Man. What are your other hobbies besides movies and zombies?
EB: I play billiards. I’m in the American Poolplayers Association; I play in leagues. I’m also into cars, typical asian stuff. My pride and joy is my Infiniti G37.
TGF: You mentioned anime earlier.
EB: Yeah, I got into anime really late, like the end of senior year. I started watching ALL of the Dragon Ball Z episodes. Now I religiously watch Naruto Shippuden and Bleach. Big time nerd alert, huh.
TGF: That’s who our audience is. Comics, games, tech, movies, pop culture.
EB: True. Very true.
TGF: Are you surprised that I’m just now asking you what you’re going to do with the money?
EB: [laughs] Actually, I’m not. I’m not really thinking about it until I get it. When I was interviewed after the gaming, I told everyone that I was going to pay bills and pay off my car… but now I’m actually thinking about setting up a business. I want to be CEO of my own corporation with several businesses under it one day.
TGF: Any idea what kind of business?
EB: I have several ideas actually, I was thinking of getting my family involved too. One of my sisters wanted to start up a stationary store, I was thinking of helping her out with that. My other sister who went to Hawaii love this Matsumotos shaved ice truck and wanted to open something similar to that, as well. So I’m thinking of maybe helping them both out with that.
TGF: Family is obviously very important to you.
EB: For me, I wanted to start a shirt business. I also wanted to sell auto parts online, and maybe billiard products. Sky’s the limit i guess… Well, the $20K is the limit for now [laughs].
TGF: Is there any advice you could offer our readers who’d be willing to take on a gaming marathon?
EB: All I can say is, just keep gaming and practice the game you will be playing in the final round once they are announced.
TGF: Wait, what? That’s lame.
EB: I know [laughs]. I can also contest that practicing staying up for more than 24 hours prior to the marathon helps. I was kind of forced to, since I was in Vegas for the bachelor party. I was the damage-control-dude, so I was up for like 40 something hours at one point…
TGF: So your advice is: “Go to a bachelor party”
EB: There we go.
TGF: I’ll just say you fell asleep.
EB: Do whatever you need to do to make this look cool.
TGF: Dude, I try to make myself cool like every minute of the day.
EB: We both have that in common then.
TGF: High five! Thanks again for talking with us, Efren.
EB: You’re very welcome! Thanks for having me.