King of Kong


This documentary reminded me why people are the worst. We first meet Billy Mitchell who set the world record for Donkey Kong in 1982. He is originally portrayed as a man who dragged himself through the mud and made something of himself. He started his own restaurant. His parents say that he is a “winner.” However, I personally think that he is a sneaky, hypocritical, little man. Steve Wiebe is introduced as a challenger to this record. I do not know if this documentary was filmed objectively, but he becomes the sympathetic figure or even heroine in the film.

Steve Wiebe tries to pierce the bubble that Billy Mitchell has created with Twin Galaxies, the company that verifies world records for arcade games. The entire movie seemed to be a conspiracy to keep Steve Wiebe from being recognized for having broken one million points on Donkey Kong and beating Billy Mitchell’s record. Billy Mitchell is part of the committee that confirms that scores were achieved without cheating. That seems to be a conflict of interest to me. Billy Mitchell and his posse seemed to build obstacles to stop Steve at every turn. Brian Kuh might be the most despicable of the group. He is always lingering around Steve trying to get in his head. At one point Brian went into Steve’s house and took apart his Donkey Kong arcade game without Steve’s permission. Eventually Steve’s accomplishments were recognized but this was not for a long time after this feud started. Steve Wiebe entered tournaments and set records in the public’s eye, as Billy Mitchell said it should be done. However, where was Billy Mitchell? Not once did he enter a tournament and play in front of the public. All of his records were recorded on film, which looked to be faked. This movie successfully destroyed my faith in humanity. I no longer want to live on this planet.


King of Kong: But Why?

After watching King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, it appears to me that the culture of arcade gaming provides people with an opportunity to attain a sense of achievement, or self-worth. The primary example of this in the film is Steve Wiebe. Throughout his life, Wiebe always came close to reaching his goals, but would then fall just short. He had talent in many of things he did, but he continuously struggled to reach his pinnacle. Most notably, the film discussed his baseball career in high school. He was a skillful pitcher, and his team had reached the state finals. The ball was in his hands for the game, yet he failed to bring his team to victory, bringing him great sadness. Much of his life seemed to repeat this script, so when he realized he may be able to beat Billy Mitchell’s Donkey Kong score, he saw a chance to be the top dog for once. He worked at it, and eventually did what he sought out to do, defeating Billy’s score to be the game’s record high-scorer. That sense of achievement had finally been acquired.

The other character I feel uses the world of arcade gaming to his personal benefit is Walter Day. Walter Day founded Twin Galaxies and became the chief scorekeeper for the video gaming world. By doing so, Walter had found something that made him feel valuable. Thousands and thousands of gamers trusted him to ensure that there was an ordered and reliable system that kept track of the top gamers around the world. Thus, Walter was able to realize his self-worth and be of use to people all over.

Of course, the gaming world seemed to be able to help many of the others as well. Billy Mitchell and Roy Shildt gained (or at least tried to gain) fame and popularity through arcade gaming, and Brian Kuh wished to do the same. Generally, the world of arcade gaming appears to be yet another way people can realize their talents and gain a sense of pride.


Matt R