How a straight shooting Steve Wiebe expected to overcome the slick organization of Billy Mitchell to grab a validated world record at the game of Donkey Kong is the subject of King Of Kong: A Fist Full Of Quarters. This documentary is fascinating regardless of whether or not you have ever even played a video game because it is about excellence, achievement and drive as much as it is about personalities, people and politics. The game of Donkey Kong becomes a metaphor for Steve Wiebe who is chasing after a record against overwhelming odds and a well established champ.
This documentary could have been cut with a little more generosity to the reigning champ Billy Mitchell who comes off as slick, conniving, under handed, resentful and unwilling to give anyone credit for doing anything. He is his own worst enemy though as he refuses to play in head to head competition with Steve Wiebe on three occasions in a row to an extent at which finally gamers are wondering aloud why the many who says that you have to do it live isn’t walking the walk. Fun Spot is considered to be the place to prove your grit so when Wiebe shows up at the Fun Spot tournament and sets a new world record Mitchell has already stolen his thunder not by showing up to play but by sending a tape with curious skips in scoring as proof that he set a new world record.
There is no question that the film makers put some effort into building the tension between the two gamers but Wiebe really does come across as completely naïve. Wiebe is not made for the world in which everything he does is questioned and everything his opponent does, no matter how dubious, is accepted at face value. Mitchell for his own part is a business man who has experienced some success, he has friends, his family loves him and he is a world class gamer. No one with all of those qualities can be as much of an asshole as he comes across as in the movie but there seems to be little doubt that he is probably not the person he thinks he is either.
King Of Kong is well worth viewing.