The Minions of King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters

The characters overall struck me as pathetic and childish. Specifically, the most pathetic characters were the supporting characters to Billy Mitchell specfically, Brian Kuh. I felt so bad for him that he was being used by Billy Mitchell as a go between to tell him Steve Wiebe’s scores. He seemed like a little minion and all he wanted was to get to the end screen and even in the end he did not get to the end screen by himself and the great Billy Mitchell was supposed to be teaching him.

I didn’t like that Billy Mitchell could see the videos of Steve Wiebe playings and getting to 1 million and he probably used that in order to “beat” Steve’s score. The relationship that Billy Mitchell had with Walter Day made them quickly accept his score and that whole experience was problematic with me. Also, the childishness of the Billy Mitchell calling his friend and not going to eat at a certain restaurant because Steve Wiebe showed up.

Overall, the World of Arcade gaming to me seemed childish with a bunch of grown men and women fighting and partnering up like small children on a play game. I am not sure if this is a accurate portrayal of the gaming arcade world or if it is just how the documentarians chose to show it. However, that is what I felt about the world of gaming after experiencing King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters.

 

-Amanda

King of Kong: The Game of Life

King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters took me by surprise in a lot of ways.  First off, I actually liked the film, which was something I never thought I would say.  Secondly, I was surprised by how invested I became in the characters’ lives and personalities.  I don’t think I have EVER hated a character like I hated Billy Mitchell.  He was rude, conceited, and a liar.  He was just the worst.  However, I came to love Steve Wiebe (probably as a result of my hatred of Billy because he hated Wiebe).  I was literally cheering for him out loud, which woke up my roommate… oops.  Anyways, I am pretty sure most everyone felt this way therefore I have said my peace and now I will move on to the true topic of this blog post: Steve’s family.

As much as I loved and rooted for Steve, I couldn’t help but sympathize with his wife and children.  He almost seemed to neglect them at times and laugh about it.  This can be noted in the video he sent Fun Spot where his son comes up screaming and crying “Stop playing Donkey Kong daddy!”  Now, I understand Steve’s frustration in that particular moment since he was actually about to break a world record and all. That is not exactly what bothers me.  What bothers me about this situation is that the way the little boy is crying makes me think this is more of a family issue than portrayed.  It makes me think that older family members (specially the mother) have asked Steve to stop playing or complained to other people about how upset it makes them (her) and the little boy has overheard it, repeating it now. Another example for why I feel this way comes when Steve is in the backseat with his daughter and she says something along the lines of “I hear people that play video games are ruining their lives..” This kind of comment seems like something an adult would say therefore reinforcing my theory that the kids are overhearing their mother complain  (that also may just be me reading into things too much… I tend to do that).

However, even if this is all true, that Steve is neglecting his family, I honestly don’t think he is meaning to.  His parents mention they have theories that Steve is autistic.  This may explain the lack of social skills and cues to be with his family more, playing the actual game of life instead of donkey kong.

Overall, the film was very entertaining! Thanks professor!

-Emily Blake

Are Emotions Ever Impartial?

I’m gonna start this off by saying that it’s fortunate that Billy Mitchell doesn’t live near my house. If he did, I would have a few choice words for him, none of which I can repeat here.

As a gamer and a human being, I was appalled at the treatment poor, sweet, sensitive Steve was given in the film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. How can you blame me? Any viewer with a soft spot for the underdog would feel the film pulling at her heartstrings as the cameraman zooms in on Wiebe’s frustrated tears of defeat, fresh after the personal insults he received at the hands of Mitchell. Despite Mitchell’s prowess at the Donkey Kong arcade game, after 80 minutes of tricks, insults, and unrestrained arrogance, I truly wanted to punch the smug gamer in his self-righteous face.

But I’m getting off track here.

After attempting to sort out the heap of negative emotions I felt towards Billy during the film, a thought suddenly came into my mind. I didn’t particularly like it, for it encouraged me to be a reasonable, level-headed adult as opposed to a furious, bull-headed teenager. The thought was this: Did I really hate Billy Mitchell, the human being, or did I just hate the film’s 80-minute caricature of him? Sure, I couldn’t stand the smug smiles he flashed toward the camera or the infuriating way he refused to meet Steve in an honest, live competition, but was that really who Billy Mitchell was? A heartless snob who delighted in embarrassing his competition and flaunting his wife around the arcades? I wasn’t sure.

And honestly, I’m still not. Now that the passions ignited by the film have died down, I’ve had time to think, and it still bothers me that I’ll never know the truth about Billy Mitchell. I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, so I don’t want to say I hate him. Heck, I don’t even know the guy. The movie wanted me to hate Billy, and so I did. But was this my own true emotion, or one simply given to me by a manipulative director? Does it even matter?

I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t such a thing as an unbiased emotion. After all, aren’t all of our emotions simply products of our own personal experiences, and filled with our own unique prejudices? Perhaps Billy Mitchell isn’t the heartless, gamer-devouring demon that the film depicted him to be, but that knowledge doesn’t make me inclined to dislike him any less. Regardless of my biases, my eyes saw a shy, kind man being mocked by an arrogant bully, and my emotions reacted accordingly, just as they would if I had watched the scene play out in front of me. While there might be more to Billy than 80 minutes of rude harassment, I doubt anything I saw or heard would make his actions in the film excusable.

So, Billy, while I won’t say I hate you, you probably shouldn’t show up near my doorstep. Ever. My mind might say “Hey, give the guy a chance,” but my heart will probably say “Kick him.”

And people do often tell me I should follow my heart.

 

–The Humblebug

Late than never?

Completely slipped my mind, but here it is.

Excluding only Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced such a visceral reaction to a movie.  My heart sunk when Steve’s score was rejected, my skin crawled when Billy sent in his doctored tapes, and I cheered when Wiebe finally took the record.  All this from a documentary about Donkey Kong.  Who knew…

The movie ultimately has an interesting message.  Nothing corny like “cheaters never prosper,” don’t worry.  It serves as an example for how important gaming is.  It can be a haven during dark times, as it was for Steve Wiebe.  It can be our entire sense of being, as it was for Billy Mitchell.  Essentially, gaming can be whatever you need it to be.  A shape shifting, never stationary entity that can serve as either a sword or a pillow.  And that’s why I love gaming.

Until next time.

-Deathly Hallowed

Steve Wiebe for President

So yeah, I’m just going to throw it out there. I forgot about this. But here we go anyway:
All of the slime of the Earth somehow found its way to one central location and produced the vile being that is Billy Mitchell. By sheer luck, this creature was given the ability to play video games very well, particularly Donkey Kong, but it is far more inclined to be manipulative and arrogant. This long established evil in the video game world appeared to have firm control over his dark empire, until that hope-inspiring day that the world learned about its next Luke Skywalker: Steve Wiebe.
Practicing for long hours in his garage, Steve Wiebe awaited the day that he would make video game history, which, I want to point out, HE DID. He beat Billy Mitchell’s score, which was legitimate to everyone except Billy Mitchell. However, his dark arms had already reached out into the minds of others on the world record scene, and the score was annulled. But you can cut Luke’s hand off, and he’ll get a new one. Steve Wiebe went back to practice, and on display at Fun Spot he beat Billy Mitchell’s record once again. Billy pulls a fast one however and sends in a video of a score that beat Steve’s new score, now going against everything he had always upheld in the way of “setting records in public.” But once again, evil would not prevail for long. Steve went pack to practicing and eventually beat Billy’s record once and for all. And from that day Billy Mitchell has been little more than a great head of hair on the video game world horizon.

blankster

P.S. Billy, I wouldn’t even use your hot sauce to pour in your eyes.

Billy Mitchell and Dolores Umbridge.

Once every so often a person or literary person will come along that absolutely gets under your skin. They have the ability to make the reader/watcher absurdly angry, without meeting the observer, or possibly being real! I believe these previous statements apply to both Billy Mitchell and Dolores Umbridge in my experience. While watching King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, there where probably ten to fifteen times when I just wanted to punch Billy Mitchell. Understand I’m not an angry person normally, but the amount of pure disrespect and pride that was radiating from Billy’s attitude made me want to rage. I don’t believe I’ve ever met or observed a more arrogant person. However,I’m not sure what provoked me more, Billy’s complete lack of humility, or when most everyone in the movie tries extremely hard just to suck up to him. Fortunately, Billy’s personality was somewhat equaled out by Steve Wiebe.

Speaking of Steve Wiebe, my feelings toward him changed throughout the movie. I believe it went something like this (bear with me):

“Oh cool, a guy who is looking for a hobby since in he got laid off.”

“There’s no way he’s taking it this seriously.”

“WHAT? THEY DIDN’T TAKE HIS SCORE?”

“Ok, he’s ruining his family.”

“I hate Billy Mitchel so much I’m going to root for Steve Wiebe, if only to see Billy get taken down.”

I believe my like of Steve is proportionately inverse to my amicability towards Billy. However, after finishing the movie and letting my emotions settle down, I feel almost depressed for Steve Wiebe. I really think he could have been happier if he would have just let go of the Donkey Kong ambition and spent more time with his kids. Steve illustrates perfectly that success requires sacrifice. In this case he lost time with his children and wife. Hopefully after getting the high score he settled down and reordered his priorities.

I suppose one of the main things I’ve learned from this movie is never let gaming  grow to be so important that I disregard my family and friends. Billy Mitchell and Steve Wiebe really did give us a perfect difference between gaming and playing video games.

An Ugly Competition

Usually in documentaries, you don’t see a true definitive “good” or “bad” guy; however, in The King of Kong: A Fistfull of Quarters, the two main subjects are clearly defined, clashing in a battle of good and evil. The good is embodied by Steve Wiebe, the perpetually down-on-his-luck family man who just needs the world record score on Donkey Kong. The evil is none other than Billy Mitchell, a self-promoting, narcissistic, apparent hypocrite who has held the record for 20+ years. Rather than an epic war between these two rivals, or even a battle, we are presented with Steve Wiebe playing Donkey Kong, while Billy Mitchell stands back and talk to his minions, who are interspersed in the main game score company? Honestly I wouldn’t even know what to call Twin Galaxies, the self-proclaimed “main scoreboard” for all of video games; the supposed pure intentioned organization that basically ruins the movie by exposing the cultish bureaucracy behind “official” video game scores. Instead of what would seem to be the easy task of putting two men in front of an arcade machine and saying “play”, the entirety of this 90 minute movie is a struggle to get the two men to play each other.

Unfortunately for our hero Steve Wiebe, his nemesis Billy “Helen of Troy” Mitchell dodges every attempt at an actual competition, and in this, really exposes how weird and exclusive hardcore gamers can and will be. Even after supposedly winning the heart and respect of the rather creepy “Master Referee” Walter Day, Wiebe can’t catch a break on anything when it comes to competitive gaming (just like the rest of his life, apparently. We are treated to a rather large slew of Steve Wiebe’s life problems throughout this film, making it almost impossible not to root for him). The cryptic, cult-like behavior of the rest of the 30something professional gamers stops Wiebe at every turn, whether it be breaking into his garage to take apart his arcade machine or disqualifying his video taped world record Donkey Kong run.

Evenetually the movie does end unceremoniously with Steve Wiebe “officially” breaking Mitchell’s record, but it almost seems an afterthought, considering after this entire movie, I really just didn’t care that much anymore. After witnessing odd and weird injustices to poor Wiebe occur throughout the entire movie, including the intentional mispronouncing of his name by the old and creepily immature super nerds that run the classic gaming community, I just wanted out of this particular subculture. It’s not something for normal people, and personally it makes me glad to stick to my Xbox and not feel like wandering into the realm of classic arcade games.

-Spencer Smith