The King of Kong: Addiction or conviction?

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The King of Kong is an interesting but poignant documentary about two rivals who compete in the timeless video game of Donkey Kong. I have to admit before watching the documentary, I had my own preconceived notions about the documentary upon reading the synopsis online. The story show how there are a select group of die hard classic video gamers who devote a better part of their lives to get that perfect high score in classic well known video games. The tale shows how Billy Mitchell achieves the highest score for the game Donkey Kong and a bunch of other classic games and holds the record for many years to come. Then comes the story of Steve Wiebe, who has been laid off from his job as an engineer and wanted to find something interesting to do during his unemployment. Steve Wiebe was a sort of a sad story because he always came up short on success in whatever it is he did be it baseball, music or art. I think this is where he found a new realm of possibilities in video games when he decided to go on a conquest to beat Billy Mitchell's high score in Donkey Kong. Then comes the montage of how Steve spends countless and maybe hundreds of hours devoted to playing Donkey Kong to the point of almost neglecting his duty as a father in his household of four. There is a sense of dualism in this endeavor as Steve could be perceived as having an unhealthy addiction or he could just be seen as having a strong conviction to validate his efforts. During the last two weeks of this course, we have talked a lot about video games and the effects of virtual reality and gaming. I remember watching Jane McGonigal's "Gaming can make a better world" lecture on YouTube and thought about how that could be related to this movie. You could maybe see how Billy Mitchell's desire to be the best has permeated other areas of his life like his job for example but you can also see how gaming has really taken a toll on both Billy and Steve as they endlessly chase each other to get this elusive highest score. Did the Donkey Kong really unlock the real life potential in both these players or did it just made them slaves to this game? I can almost certainly relate to this conquest as I used to be an obsessed video game player during my high school years when I was one of the best players in Street Fighter 2 growing up in my hometown. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours at the arcade devoted to this game and beating everyone I thought was worthy of my challenge. At the end of high school I've decided to completely abandon video games altogether after realizing how much time I've sunken into this game and having nothing to show for it in real life. I am somewhat skeptical about the view that video games can really unlock our inner potential in solving real life problems. I believe an epic win in a video game still cannot amount to an epic win in real life like running your first marathon or graduating from college.



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This page contains a single entry by user07gwss published on December 15, 2010 12:27 AM.

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