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King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters - Key Ideas Expressed

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King of Kong – A fist full of quaters

When you want your name written into history, you have to pay the price’. The King of Kong – a Fistful of Quarters (2007) is a documentary, directed by Seth Gordon about the culture of competitive classic video games. The story follows the intense rivalry between Steve Weibe and Billy Mitchell and their struggle to be world record holder of the highest score on the 1980s classic arcade video game ‘Donkey Kong’. The King of Kong is an award winning documentary that showcases the key ideas of competition, persistance and family. The director conveys these ideas through the use of documentary techniques, including archival footage, music, interviews and actuality. The visual codes of characterisation, camera angle and setting further convey these key ideas. This essay explores the struggles associated with competitive gaming and the quest to be the best in the world.

The idea of family is presented in the documentary through the director’s effective use of documentary techniques and visual codes, including: archival footage, camera angle, characterisation and interviews. Throughout the documentary, the members of the Weibe family are characterised to be loving and very supportive of each other and of Steve’s journey to become the best Donkey Kong player. There are many scenes in the documentary which show the Weibe family together. They are often captured with an eye level camera angle, happy and in close proximity of one another which showcases the family’s unconditional love and support for each other. The key idea of family in the Weibe family is further conveyed during an interview scene with the wife, which features Steve’s wife ???DIANNE???? very upset for Steve after failing his World Record attempt. The theme of family is also illustrated with the family like relationship that Billy Mitchell has with the staff/players of FunSpot and Twin Galaxies. Archival footage of Billy Mitchell, Steven Sanders and Walter Day shows that they have known each other since the 1980s and are very close. We often see these characters hanging out together, supporting each other, talking on the phone. The relationship these characters share further contributes to the key idea of family in the documentary.

Competition and rivalry are rife in the world of competitive gaming today and this theme is presented throughout the King of Kong documentary. The key ideas of competition and rivalry are presented in the documentary through the effective use of characterisation, setting, music and camera angle. The characters of Steve Weibe and Billy Mitchell go head to head to be the greatest Donkey Kong player in the world. Despite there being almost no scenes where the two characters are together, the conflict developed is still very real and contentious. From the very beginning of the film, Billy is constructed to be the champion with an unbeatable Donkey Kong record and portrayed to be the overall villain of the documentary. The scene where Billy is interviewed in his kitchen restaurant shows Billy dressed formally dressed formally with a tie and a shirt, next to one of his hard working employees. The camera angle is close up and shot slightly below level to make the viewer ‘look up’ to him. This represents Billy as the champion and the superior character. Gordan’s use of music further supports Billy as the champion and ultimately, the villain by the end of the film. The scene where he is



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