Donkey Kong Kings

There is a whole culture behind video games that I was completely unaware of – a culture of competition and pride. The film King of Kong: A Fist Full of Quarters seriously caught me off guard with the intensity and seriousness surrounding arcade games, specifically Donkey Kong. While it is nice to be the best in the world at something (not that I personally would know) it seems like grown men were putting their whole lives on hold to achieve the goal of being the best.

Throughout the movie I felt overwhelmingly sad for the family of Steve Wiebe. His wife was left alone to raise their children while he was cooped up in the garage playing Donkey Kong or travelling to prove his merits as a gamer. It seemed as if his family came second to Donkey Kong, which made me even more impressed that throughout his video game career his wife had unwaivering support for him. However, even though the Wiebe’s opened up their lives to the cameras, it would be interesting to see if behind the scenes there was tension in the marriage or the family stemming from his obsession with Donkey Kong.

 What surprised me even more was being exposed to the worldwide phenomenon of record holding in arcade games. I had no idea that gamers across the world were in competition with one another, let alone that there were world records for such a thing. Twin Galaxies operates out of someone’s apartment where he watches tapes and decides which are valid. It’s crazy that people all over the world film their games and send them in just to be recognized and have a feeling of validation from one organization. The referees and the organization hardly seem fair. The main referee was a good friend of Billy Mitchell’s and favored his top score even though it was in the form of a video, something that was not allowed for Steve.

 Overall, the movie was a classic story of the triumph of good over evil. Billy Mitchell was portrayed as being an arcade bully while Steve Wiebe was struggling to gain notoriety in the gaming world. Each time Steve broke a record Billy hit him right back with a video of a higher score (which may or may not have been edited). It was great in the end when they highlighted that by 2007 Steve had beaten Billy and was the world champion. 

 

Molly Steckler

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