Giving America a Bad Name

Wow.  That was all I could say after just riding one of the most intense emotional rollercoasters that I have ever been on.  The emotions evoked by King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters were both unexpected and captivating, as I was on the edge of my seat the entire movie, whenever I wasn’t falling out of it from laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the people in the documentary.

Aside from all of the absurd people and events that took place in the documentary, there is actually much that can be learned from Steve Wiebe’s journey to the top.  Video games provided him with an outlet for his frustration that really allowed him to leave all his personal struggles at the door when he entered the arcade, or in his case, his garage.  After losing his job Wiebe dedicated himself to becoming the best of the best, deciding to stop nowhere short of first place.  Had Wiebe not had this safe haven from his personal life then there is no telling where he would be now.  The game gave him something to work towards that could make him believe in himself again, and he was able to dedicate himself to a new job and become a science teacher beloved by all his students.

While video games brought out perseverance and hard work in Steve they actually brought out many negative characteristics in Billy Mitchell and his groupies.  The competitive nature of professional gaming led Billy to become an egotistical monster, who was one of the most frustrating people that I have ever encountered.  I have rarely someone to lose so badly before, and I found myself passionately rooting against him the entire movie.  His only redeeming quality was his love for America, coupled with his great collection of patriotic neckties.  However, in the end I came to the conclusion that Billy actually gave the USA a bad name, as his cowardice and arrogance are not values that should be admired in a true American.  His reluctance to compete against Steve in a live competition should have instantly decreased his credibly among the entire gaming community, however the corrupt nature of Twin Galaxies and his followers let Billy’s fear of losing slip by without criticism.

Video games helped Steve Wiebe finally succeed and come out on top in something, which he had never been able to do before.  They also helped him get his life back on track and made him a few new friends along the way.  They also brought out the worst in Billy, as his huge ego eventually overtook him and caused him to run from challenges and possibly even cheat.  I am still unconvinced of the credibility of Billy’s high-score tape that skipped from score to score and had a fuzzy line on the left-side of the screen quite frequently.  It was also an outrage that his taped score was counted and Steve’s was not, and they never even went to check to see if Billy’s machine was tampered with or not.  All in all this documentary was truly enthralling, and I was thrilled to see the underdog come out on top.

-George de Roziere

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