28 January, 2012

The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (Documentary)

It might seem that King of Kong is a documentary about gaming, and it is, but it is more so a documentary about human nature, especially its competitive side.

With the popularization of the modern day gaming consoles the classic Arcade games seem like a thing of the past. There are however people who remain true to the original form of gaming and King of Kong is about them.

Billy Mitchell had been the longest standing champion when it came to a number of Arcade games. Over the years his records were broken until he was left with only one title, that in Donkey Kong. Because of his popularity and records, he almost had/has a God like persona in the gaming community. The Documentary is a great look into the life of Billy and at times how he comes across as almost manipulative when his records are about to be broken, but in reality it is all, to me, simply human nature.  

King of Kong also follows newcomer Steve Wiebe who having broken the record of Donkey Kong has to prove his scores (A VHS copy of his record breaking score not being accepted) whereas Billy on the other hand simply sends in VHS tapes in place of actually facing Steve in competitions.

Although the documentary follows the competitive nature of Arcade gaming, it eventually focuses on the rising clash between Steve and Billy. On the one side Steve is an out of work teacher who takes on gaming to pass time and on the other is Billy who has built his empire (which includes selling a special Hot Sauce) on his success over the years.

King of Kong proved to be an exceptionally wonderful watch because although I am not a die-hard gamer, it still took me into a world of competitive gaming that I knew little about. Furthermore, personally, being a psychology major, the documentary provides an opportunity to witness human nature in its rawest form.

A must watch documentary even if you do not like video-games.

Rating - 5/5


  1. NIce to see you enjoyed it, it was a great documentary which is very enjoyable. Billy Mitchell is really painted as the bad guy here and seems to love that role.

    1. Yeah it really was fun. I think someone told me on twitter (you?) that the producers specially came out after the release of the film to clarify that Billy is not as manupilative as he comes across in the documentary. Cheers!

  2. I really enjoyed this movie. As someone who was there when the game was introduced it definitely took me back. I absolutely loved the use of the original Karate Kid song The Best Around when they were showing a montage of gamers.

    1. Agree with you Chip. They used music quite well too using retro classic songs and even sound effects from the games. Thanks