Saturday, 28 May 2011

Sticks of Joy!

A few years ago there was a triumvirate of documentaries relating to arcade games, a look back at the people who grew up during the eighties and how they are still living those times.

High Score (2006): Bill Carlton played Missile Command. A lot. A lot a lot. However, he only had the 10th highest score. This documentary is about his attempt to gain the highest score by playing the game for hours... estimating needing over two solid days of playing to get there! Now, there's dedication, but that is incredible determination! The machine has a few problems with remaining stable, however, Bill is not going to quit... Quite an interesting documentary, and Bill is very personable!

The King of Kong (2007): Along a similar theme, this one is about Steve Wiebe trying to gain the high score on Donkey Kong, contested by Billy Mitchell. When reading the details on IMBD, this movie is partially real, and partially crafted. For example, their relationship is not as antagonistic as portrayed, and it's not that they were the only people involved. Again interesting as it shows that old challenges (arcade game scores) are still taken very seriously.

Chasing Ghosts: Beyond the Arcade (2007): Featuring some of the same people as above, back in 1982 Life magazine did an article on the top arcade players of the age. This documentary sees how they have fared over time. Some well, some... consider they are doing well. Most have moved on from the arcade game business, and some are still making their living doing it. (Walter Day was a manager of an arcade game parlour back then, Twin Galaxies, and became the person responsible for tracking high scores. During the movie, he was writing a book on the history of the topic, which seemed to have inspired the documentary, and then planned to move on.) Worth a look, an offers a more comprehensive view than the above movies.


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