Just when you thought the gaming world got over the heated rivalry between Steve Wiebe and Billy Mitchell, thanks to the critically acclaimed documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, another rivalry has emerged in the quest for the best Donkey Kong player. Vice Magazine’s Motherboard chronicled the latest showdown for the world’s highest Donkey Kong score between two heated rivals, Hank Chen and Vincent Lemay.
Chen, a 39-year-old plastic surgeon, holds the current high score record at 1,138,600 points but Lemay–a self-described bodybuilding “meathead”– has always been just a few steps behind him. It’s gotten so heated that a new rivalry has emerged between the two complete with trash talking and endless practice sessions of the video game that the world clearly is not done trying to dominate. Chen said he has thought about relinquishing the title if someone else surpassed it, unless that someone is Lemay.
What is it about this game that turns ordinary gamers, normally a docile group of friendly competitors who are just looking for a good time, into drooling, seething gladiators who crave blood in the form of a nostalgic video game? Anyone who has played it knows that it’s very challenging and requires a great deal of study, skill and memorization to master–but you never hear about heated rivalries to become the world’s greatest Missile Command or Words with Friends player. You would think that gamers everywhere would have learned the lessons of sportsmanship and petty competitiveness from The King of Kong. Apparently, though, the drive to become the world’s greatest Donkey Kong player is just as prestigious and cutthroat as winning the office of President of the United States or big dog of the prison cell block.