25 August 2009


After having heard about it 'round the internets, I downloaded The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. C. and I watched it and were kind of blown away that competitively playing classic arcade video games can be people's whole lives. I guess I wasn't COMPLETELY surprised... but it watching a grown man videorecord himself playing a game as his child wails "Daddyyyyyy, stop playing Donkey Kong!" in the background was unexpectedly sobering.

I learned a lot from this documentary. I learned that classic video gaming is very high stakes, that there are heroes and villains among the well-known players... and that there are well-known players, period. These well-known players convene and compete in locations such as The American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot, in magical Laconia, NH. Right after watching the documentary, we turned to the internet for more information about this Funspot, and discovered that the 11th annual International Classic Videogame Tournament was coming right up. These days we need only the slightest nudge to get us moving on a roadtrip, but this information practically shoved us off a cliff.

We gently landed in New Hampshire, the first day of the tournament... and were changed forever. Our first glance around the parking lot at Funspot revealed vanity license plates which read "MAPPY," "DKONG," and "CNTIPD."

This vehicle had much Mountain Dew and generic cheese puffs in the back seat, I am not even kidding.

The arcade was not as busy as I'd expected, but still lively with challengers and onlookers. There were a lot of games, and a lot of people's hands all over the games... I yearned for Purell.

This fellow is filming himself playing Ms. Pac-Man, while wearing a special Pac-Man garment.

A game I don't know, being played by a guy wearing a "Power Glove" which is also something that exists I guess. That's me, bemused, in the background.

But enough about these random gamers - we met CELEBRITIES! We got our picture taken with Walter Day, the video game referee who is in charge of Twin Galaxies. We got our picture taken with some other unknown guy who wasn't in The King of Kong but kind of forced us to get our picture taken with him. We got our picture taken with BRIAN KUH, a man who quit his real job to move to New Hampshire to play games at Funspot ALL THE TIME!

One time he broke 16 world records in one day. That's a lot! One of them was Paperboy, which I tried to play, and it's pretty challenging.

Brian Kuh was actually kind of a toadie villain in The King of Kong. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll just say he basically committed a crime in order to make life harder for another gamer. I thought poorly of him for that, and had entertained fantasies of calling him out on poor sportsmanship if I were to meet him in real life. Then I did meet him, and he was so meek and modestly grateful that we had enjoyed the documentary... and for a moment I thought deeply on the fact that he quit his job and moved to New Hampshire to pursue gaming... and I decided it wasn't for me to judge.

We spent the rest of our time at Funspot collecting tickets on the kiddie games, like Skee-Ball and Wack-a-Mole. We were so rich with tickets by the end - our rewards were a Cookie Monster plushie, a little figurine of a dog taking a bath in a bucket, and a red Chinese finger trap. Funspot, I hope to be seeing you again soon.

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