The rule, established by every piece of popular culture ever created, is that avid video-gamers must be depicted as hopeless loners devoid of social skills or any other redeeming qualities. What makes Seth Gordon’s documentary The King of Kong so fascinating is that it might be the first movie to show gamers as they see themselves: as people with flaws, but also with an intense passion to be very good at something.
The story begins when Steve Wiebe, a schoolteacher from Washington State, decides that he wants to set the world-record high score at Donkey Kong, the 1980s arcade game. It’s a plan that brings him into conflict with the current record holder, a Florida restaurateur named Billy Mitchell, as well as a whole culture of devoted, grown-up gamers determined to see Mitchell’s record stand. As Wiebe practices for the big showdown, not only will you learn what a “kill stage” is and why scoring 1 million points at Donkey Kong is a Herculean feat, but you may gain a whole new respect for — or at least understanding of — a certain manic species of all-American supergeek.
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