Sunday, March 16, 2008

Game Boys

I admit, I've been addicted to Pacman for the longest time. It's simply the hardest video game ever created. If you're a first-timer, trust me, you won't last five seconds. Even the first stage is a harrowing play, and I've only ever reached close to 70,000 points, which to the average gamer, must be a really pathetic score. Even so, once I get into trying to better my own score, the addiction begins all over again.

So, it's easy to understand why the competitive gamers in The King Of Kong seem to take video games a little too seriously. And that's an understatement even. This fantastic documentary about the competitive gaming scene from the 80s till now, encompasses the myriad aspects of humanity - ego, struggle, self-esteem, epiphany, obsession, self-validation, and more. It's a surprising revelation that video games are more than just entertainment, that once a gamer officially enters the competitive scene, it's about honour, respect, friendship, brotherhood - in short, everything John Woo ever taught us.

I guess the appeal of The King Of Kong comes stronger for me at this moment, apart from my still-engulfing obsession with Pacman, because of a bunch of local documentaries, independent and otherwise, that I've seen lately. They're largely disappointments, lacking focus and depth, overlong, and often self-indulgent. Either things are expressly stated in narration, or the documentary is just simply pointless. Documentaries like The King Of Kong never has to explain itself, nor make explicit its inner workings. Instead there is no narration, and the story is pieced together expertly by allowing the people in the film to tell their story and reveal their world. It also takes a great a mount of understanding and research on the filmmakers' part.

And most of all, it looks at the world of gaming and geeks with an endearing, non-judgemental eye, resulting in us developing a strong connection with the various people involved. There are no villains nor heroes; there are just people informed by their biases, inner conflicts and sense of being.

While I thought Pacman was the hardest game ever created, now through the film, I know that Donkey Kong is the undisputed champion frustrator of many a-gamer. Myself, I never got past the second stage!

But my time spent playing Pacman made me realise that the game uses very much the same concept of "ghosts" as in Chinese superstition - that ghosts move in straight lines.

I bet you didn't think of that, did you?

COPYRIGHT POLICY: It's simple: Steal my stuff and I'll kick you in the nuts