The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters

Synopsis: In the early 1980s, legendary Billy Mitchell set a Donkey Kong record that stood for almost 25 years. This documentary follows the assault on the record by Steve Wiebe, an earnest teacher from Washington who took up the game while unemployed. The top scores are monitored by a cadre of players and fans associated with Walter Day, an Iowan who runs Funspot, an annual tournament. Wiebe breaks Mitchell's record in public at Funspot, and Mitchell promptly mails a controversial video tape of himself setting a new record. So Wiebe travels to Florida hoping Mitchell will face him for the 2007 Guinness World Records. Will the mind-game-playing Mitchell engage; who will end up holding the record?
Director(s): Seth Gordon
Production: New Line Cinema
  9 wins & 10 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
79 min

There will always be the argument

That video games are meant

to be played for fun.

Believe me some of them are a lot of fun.

Videogames are meant to be played at home.

Relaxing on a couch, amongst friends.

and they are, and that's fun.

But competitive gaming,

When you want to attach your name

to a world record

When you want your name

written into history...

You have to pay the price.

With this it's like me and the machine

Doesn't matter

If you let me down...

Or if someone else doesn't come through.

I can always go out there, I'm in control.

I am glad to touch on this.

This is important.

Everybody, even grandmas,

Games, meaning checkers, cards,

If not now, in the past.

Show me even a freakin' nun or a hermit

Who hasn't played cards or checkers.

I do not drink. I don't smoke.

I don't do drugs.

I play video games

Which I think is

a far superior addiction

Than any of those other ones.

I wanted to be a hero.

I wanted to be the center of attention.

I wanted the glory. I wanted the fame.

I wanted the pretty girls

to come at me and say...

"Hello. I see that you are good

at Centipede. "

I had somebody draw a analogy for me once

that I always remember.

The top French pilot in

World War One shot down 24 enemy planes.

The top American pilot,

you don't know his name do you?

Nobody does,

But it is Eddie Rickenbacker.

Shot down 26 enemy planes.

The German ace, the Red Baron.

Everyone knows who the Red Baron is.

That's cause he shot down 87 enemy planes.

I mean he was the best.

There is a level of difference

between people...

And it translates into some games.

Donkey Kong, Pac-Man,

Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Defender...

These are the games

that caught the public eye.

These are the games

people cared about.

So, if you want to be known

as being world class.

You gotta master one of those games.

I like the simplicity of it.

And that's what you will probably hear

from a lot of people that like retro games

That it's the simplicity.

Those games challenged

eye-hand coordination...

Mind, body coordination

Fast reaction time

and comprehensive thinking

On a level that modern games don't..

Memorization and pattern recognition is key.

For you to get a single point further

in an old game from the early eighties

Meant a tremendous increase of skill.

If you do not know

the next pattern coming up...

in a tron lifecycle event

you will lose your life.

Only the die herds,

who for some reason...

really loved those games,

continued to stick with them.

What we've done is

that had mayor tie up the entire street...

so the Life magazine

could come to town...

and photograph the world's

greatest video game players...

Who have been flown in

specially for this Life photographic session.

All these great superstars are coming

from North Carolina,

California, Canada

And many other places...

To be photographed

as the official world champions...

On many different games.

That was the first time

Two world-class players

Went head-to-head for a competition.

Was in Life magazine.

Without a doubt I met players

that were among the best in the world.

And maybe even with say or do

whatever they could

To make people believe

They were the best in the world.

Well, at that time...

He was the world record holder on Centipede.

But also at that time...

He was the world record holder on

Donkey Kong.

But we didn't know that,

because someone else...

was invited there

from Kansas City...

Who, because of a claim they had made

It was presumed that they were the

Donkey Kong Champion.

Donkey Kong was the one

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Seth Gordon

Seth Gordon (born July 15, 1976) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and film editor. He has produced and directed for film and television, including for PBS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United Nations Staff 1% for Development Fund. His films have screened at the Sundance Film Festival and Slamdance Film Festival. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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