Since today is Grand Theft Auto IV release day, I felt it was a good time to mention one of the best documentaries about videogames that is likely to ever be made. I watched King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters last night, and it was absolutely fascinating, even moreso since I'm a videogame fan and about the same age as these fanatics.
Focusing on a self-taught Donkey Kong expert (the humble Steve Wiebe) aiming to challenge the current world record holder (the arrogant Billy Mitchell), this movie was both interesting and frightening at the same time. It shows a whole classic arcade videogame subculture that I knew existed, but I wasn't prepared for how obsessive and competitive they are.
Interesting note (to me anyway): I've actually been to that Funspot Arcade in Weirs Beach, NH as a kid, so I might have run into one of these weirdos before.
From the Twin Galaxies "referees" who oversee the validity of the scores to the banker who retired at age 30 and moved to New Hampshire to devote his life to playing video games, it was priceless stuff. Billy even had people sent to Steve's house to check the machine in his garage to see if the board was "fraudulent". I simply can't believe anyone would be that dickish about a Donkey Kong record.
"No matter what I say, it draws controversy. It's sort of like the abortion issue. If you're for it, you're a sonofagun; if you're against it, you're a sonofagun. I'm not God, I don't have all the answers, so I have to be careful how I share my opinions." - Billy MitchellWHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? IT'S A FREAKING VIDEO GAME! Seriously, I think this guy is totally insane.
Regardless, it was a very entertaining documentary, even for the non-videogame enthusiast. But for someone like me who has gone through rolls upon rolls of quarters playing these games in the 80s, it was completely mesmerizing.
(Oh, and after seeing a guy play Marble Madness with his foot, I'm never playing one of those trackball games again.)
Clips courtesy of Picturehouse Films.
Donkey Kong (Online Flash Version)
King Of Kong - Trailer